How to Take a Professional Headshot

Whether it is for a social media profile or your portfolio, a good headshot is an easy way to make you seem more professional! The question is, how do you take a professional headshot? What do I need and what are the steps? Well, look no further! We will go over what makes a headshot professional and the steps to do so!

Before we get started, here is a cheat sheet and a quick list of the dimensions of profile pictures of a few platforms where headshots are often used:

  • LinkedIn: 400 px wide by 400 px tall
  • Twitter: 400 px wide by 400 px tall
  • Facebook: 180 px wide by 180 px tall
  • Instagram: 110 px wide by 110 px tall
  • Pinterest: 165 px wide by 165 px tall
  • Google+: 250 px wide by 250 px tall


The first step is to create a good composition. In the case of a headshot, the composition will consist of a plain background and a shot of you from the chest up, but you can also use the ‘rule of thirds’ to make your headshot a little more interesting.  And just because a background is plain, doesn’t mean it can’t be colorful! A headshot that embodies your personality will stand out and be more memorable, so if you think a bright orange background is you, then go for it!


The next step is to create good lighting, especially if you are indoors. Two lights are usually optimal for any headshot to avoid odd shadows that can distract the viewer. However, you also want to avoid too harsh of light. Direct sunlight and too bright of lights can bring out imperfections that can be unsightly. It is all about finding a balance. There are many ways to set up a headshot with two lights and it just comes down to preference and resources.

Camera Setup

The camera setup for a headshot is simple and straight forward. You want the camera to be at the chest to head level and you want to make sure that the subject is looking at the camera when the picture is taken. This can help to make a photo seem more personable to the viewer. Like they are connecting to the person. You don’t want the camera too high or low because the human face can often appear odd or unsightly from these angles, no matter how good looking the subject is!

Capture Personality

Headshots that show personality often stand out from those that don’t! Whether it’s through the outfit, smile, or colorful background, make sure that the subject’s personality is being captured. Often it can take a few shots before the subject warms up to being photographed. Compliments to boost the confidence and some upbeat music can loosen up the subject and get them to become comfortable in front of the camera. Once they are comfortable, their personality will shine and you will be able to capture it!

Post Photo Shoot

Once you finish the photoshoot, you should sit down with the subject and pick out the best photos. Depending on how many photos you took, this could take a while. We think it is important to sit down with the subject and pick out the photos because it is, after all, their headshot. You want them to like the headshot before you go through all the editing! Once they pick out the headshots they like and you think are good, it is time to perfect the exposure, lighting, contrast, etc. Adobe Lightroom is the best for editing photos and fixing any imperfections in these areas. If any unsightly imperfections can be edited out, then Adobe Photoshop is the best software to use. However, it is important not to go overboard. An over-edited headshot can appear fake and not represent the subject well, which defeats the purpose of a headshot!

Hopefully, these steps/tips help you out when taking a professional headshot! Remember that these are just recommendations and that everyone’s resources and circumstances are different. The best thing about photography is the process of capturing the photo. With the right ingenuity, a good photo can be taken with any kind of camera! 

Hopefully, this blog post helped you learned how to more professional headshots with a camera! Here at Camera Drop, we specialize in camera gear that helps you to take the perfect photo/video! Visit our store to see what we have to offer!