3 Tips for a Great Business Headshot


Think about everywhere you use a headshot - LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, on your website and your business cards.

Your headshot is your introduction in the digital world.

I’ve had strangers start in-person conversations with: “you’re Nick right?”

They’ve seen my face on social media. Anyone that follows what I do knows what I look like. There’s a strong connection between me and my work.

I talked about why a first impression is so important in a previous post.

Think of your headshot as your first impression. It’s often the first look that people get of you online.

Use these 3 tips to ensure your headshot makes a powerful first impression.

Tip 1 - It’s all about “the look”

What do you want your headshot to say about you? 

Humans are experts at picking up on non verbal cues. Within seconds of seeing a face, we form judgements on integrity, likability, and competence.

Your headshot needs to look confident, trustworthy, and approachable. Good posture and a warm smile go a long way towards building trust. 

3 Tips for a Great Business Headshot. Nick Roush Photography. Salt Lake City Commercial photographer.

Not sure where to start? 

Try practicing in front of a mirror in the days leading up to your shoot.

Stand at a slight angle, with one shoulder slightly closer to the camera and turn your head so you’re looking right at the lens.

Push your forehead and chin forward a little, this feels a little weird, but it looks good. It helps accentuate your jawline.

Add a small squint in your eyes, just enough to avoid the deer in the headlights look.

Finally, a small smile adds some friendliness. 

Once you have these basics, think about your industry. Does your headshot need to be serious and formal, or can it be a little more relaxed and fun? You can tweak your expression to match.

What to wear?

Simplicity is key. 

Dress as if you’re meeting a new client for the first time. 

Wear well fitting clothes, a few small binder clips along the back of your jacket or shirt can help pull in extra fabric. 

Avoid busy patterns. Solid colors work best. Bring some variation, even if you only need one photo. Your photographer can help you pick the best clothing options based on style and color. 

For men, a couple different shirts and ties, along with a jacket give you plenty of combinations to work with.

For ladies, consider a few different shirts and a sweater or cardigan to add variety. Don’t overdo makeup, similar to clothing, imagine you’re meeting a client for the first time. 

Tips for a great business headshot. Nick Roush Photography. Salt Lake City Commercial photographer.

Tip 2 - Relax

But what about my flaws? 

You see yourself every day. Inevitably, you notice things that nobody else notices.

It’s important that you don’t focus on your perceived flaws during your shoot.

Remember, confidence is key, don’t waste time focusing on the things that kill your confidence.

It’s a good idea to discuss some of these flaws with your photographer before your shoot. A professional will have tricks that help minimize them, but don’t make them your priority.

Stressed about finding the right emotions?

Don’t just fake the emotions you’re trying to show in your headshot, it never looks authentic. You have to feel them during the shoot.

A smile isn’t just a movement of your mouth, you can see a real smile in your eyes.

Confidence makes you look taller, your chin is up and your shoulders are back, ready to take on the world.

Its important that these emotions are real. People can spot a fake.

In the days leading up to and during your photoshoot think back on things that made you laugh, times you felt proud of an accomplishment, real experiences that triggered the emotions you’re trying to show.

I’d even recommend writing a few of them down the night before, in detail, and bring those notes to your shoot. You can read them when it’s time to turn on those emotions. 

Getting a great business headshot. Nick Roush Photography. Salt Lake City Commercial photographer.

Tip 3 - Hire a professional

Don’t cut corners with your first impression.

The quality of your headshot is as important as your look. A high quality photo shows that you’re confident enough to invest in yourself and you take pride in your business. 

A professional photographer will know how to highlight your best features and compose a photo with a clean background that doesn’t distract from you.

They’ll help you pick the right clothing, and will coach you through the right pose and expression.

They’ll help you select the best photos for your purposes and retouch them to get you looking your best.

When picking a photographer, their work is important, but it’s also important that you like them as a person.

A photoshoot shouldn’t feel like a chore. Going back to tip number 2, you should be comfortable enough with your photographer to open up, relax, and show real emotion. 


More often than not, my clients feel nervous about an upcoming shoot.

I’ve heard: “I’m not photogenic” more times than I can count.

I always spend the first 10 minutes of a shoot describing my process and cracking a few jokes to help everyone relax. By the end were both laughing and joking around and the emotions we capture are real.

A headshot is important, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember to spend time finding the right photographer, practice your look before the shoot, and relax.

What makes you nervous about a photoshoot? Have any other headshot questions? Looking for a quote?

Comment below or reach out through my Get a Quote page. I’d love to hear from you.

Self portrait. Nick Roush Photography. Small business commercial photographer.

Nick Roush

Helping small businesses improve their first impression so they stand out in a crowded marketplace.

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Find out the 3 photos you NEED to grow your brand image, stand out from the competition, and make a great first impression. Nick Roush Photography - small business commercial photographer.