Photography is a skill that can be mastered and learned, for as long as you put your heart into it. As a photographer, you have a vital task to fulfill. You are not merely taking photos as is, but you are helping your clients capture a particular age and moment in their lifetime. One of the photography styles that is highly requested is that of a headshot. If you are eager to learn this technique, here are power tips to help get you started:

#1. Practice with a friend or a family member

Before you get to more professional tips, one of the most foolproof ways for you to master the art of taking headshots is to practice with family, or with a friend, who is willing to be your model. Look for a plain wall in your home or in your office, put in excellent lighting, and start shooting. Practice makes perfect and, indeed, there is so much truth to this. You will only know what angles work best for certain head types, as well as proper camera positioning, by practicing taking headshots as often as you can.

You can also ask for consultation sessions with expert photographers, such as booking an appointment with JAHeadshots.

#2. Master the basics of taking headshots.

Although no two clients are alike, there are basic rules for you to follow when taking headshots. These rules are universal, and it is up to you as the photographer, to tweak the same, to best match the features of each of your clients. Examples of the rules that you have to master are the following:

  • Keep your frame for each photo no lower than the chest area of each client, whether adult or child, male or female
  • Highlight the best features of your client
  • Go for photo moods that best suit the personality of the subject
  • Ask your subject to look directly into the lens of the camera, as if they are trying to make eye contact

Whether you are using a professional camera, or your iPhone to take photos, these basic principles of taking headshots are universal. Hence, even if you are starting out just with your phone, you can still apply these tips to help you take excellent headshots.

#3. Consult with your clients first

Again, no two clients are alike. Hence, after you have mastered all the basic techniques of taking headshots, you have to go one step further by offering a personal approach to your clients. The best way for you to achieve this is by setting up a consultation session before you take the photos. Ask your client what it is about their face that they want to highlight, what they want to cover, what the mood of the shoot will be, and the purpose.

When you offer this type of personalized approach, you are giving yourself a clear and well-defined basis of how you are going to apply your techniques in photography in relation with the needs of your client, such that you can deliver to them the best headshots.

During this pre-shoot consultation meeting, you should also help your clients out with their wardrobe selection process. Apart from the face of the model, the chosen clothing worn in these headshots can make or break your photo. For example, if you are taking headshots for professional purposes, then you should advise your subject to wear something quite formal. However, if the theme of the headshot is a relaxed vibe, then ask for your client to dress accordingly as well.

#4. Take note of proper camera positioning.

When you are trying to take headshots, proper positioning of the camera does matter. You cannot expect to have great photos, no matter how much of an expert your subject may be in their best angles, if as the photographer, you do not know what you are doing as well. Proper camera positioning plays a vital role in ensuring that the headshots will turn out to be great.

Here are some camera-positioning tips to keep you guided:

  • Stay around two to three feet away from your subject
  • Let the camera face the subject directly, as you are trying to focus on the face
  • Position the lens of your camera, such that it is around the chin level of your client

These tips can help you use your camera more to its advantage, such that you end up with excellent photos. Remember that if you settle for a poorly-taken photo, you might end up losing clients, as they still will not use your headshots, for whatever purpose they were initially taken for.

#5. Prepare for the background as well.

Apart from the face itself, and the clothing, another aspect of headshots that you shouldn’t take lightly is the background. As much as possible, keep your background plain. In this manner, the focus of the viewers is on the subject that you are taking a photo of, rather than the very busy and distracting background. A bonus tip for you to remember is to ask your clients not to stick too much to the wall, allowing them to adjust, such that there is lesser shadow intrusion in your photos.


As daunting as taking a headshot photo may seem, it is learnable, and it is also doable. Give yourself time to practice and to learn more techniques. If you are a newbie, don’t be too hard on yourself as well. Start with these tips to guide you, and soon enough, your clients will be giving you a million thanks for the excellent results.