What Goes Into Creating a Professional Headshot?

Handsome photographer making photo on camera in studio

Professional headshots are standard fare for business professionals these days. Take a look on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook and you will find high-quality, high-resolution photographs produced by highly skilled photographers who know what it takes to present their subjects in the best possible light.

CMQ Headshots, an Arizona studio known for creating some of the best professional headshots in Phoenix, explains that headshot photography is a specialized art form that requires an entirely different skill set compared to other forms of photography. They say that a skilled headshot photographer can do things with the camera that are quite amazing.

For the record, a headshot is a professional photograph focusing entirely on the subject’s face and head. The purpose of such a shot is to provide a visual enhancement to a person’s online profile, resume, etc. As such, the best headshots are taken by professionals who know what they are doing.

If you are interested, here is what goes into creating a professional headshot, compliments of CMQ Headshots:

The Right Lighting

The most important aspect to any photograph is lighting. The thing is that the human eye and brain are more than capable of filtering out visual noise in order to see people in a certain way. For example, you might glance at someone across the room and never even notice a slight blemish on the side of the face. Unfortunately, cameras do not have that same filtering capability. They pick up everything – blemishes and all.

Headshot photographers take this sort of thing into account when setting up their lighting. They position lighting in such a way as to enhance the subject’s face as much as possible. Any undesirable characteristics can be either hidden or softened with the right lighting setup.

The Right Pose

Next to proper lighting, the subject’s pose is second in importance. Why? Because professional headshots serve a very specific purpose. If someone is applying for a job as an engineer for example, a selfie taken on the beach just doesn’t work. Recruiters want to see that person striking a pose that denotes professionalism and competence.

A Genuine Smile

One of the hardest parts of creating a good professional headshot is getting the subject to give a genuine smile. Yet smiles are critical because they present a positive image. The opposite is also true. A frown creates a negative image. Most of us wouldn’t frown for a headshot, but even a straight face is missing that positive energy that creates positive perceptions.

Professional headshot photographers have to be able to get their subjects to offer up a genuine smile. It cannot be a halfhearted or fake smile because, as mentioned earlier, the camera doesn’t lie. The camera will pick up on a smile that is not genuine.

Subject Proportion

There is one final characteristic of a good headshot that escape non-professionals: subject proportion. In other words, there is only a limited amount of space within the frame to present the subject’s face and head. If the subject’s face takes up too much space, it crowds the frame and overemphasizes the profile. If it takes up too little space, the subject looks small and insignificant.


The key for the professional headshot photographer is to find the perfect proportional balance. It is all about framing the face in just the right way while simultaneously using just the right amount of space.

As you can see, creating professional headshots requires a lot more than a cell phone and a working knowledge of how to take selfies. It requires a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge to do it right.

What do you think?

Written by David Thacker

10 Reasons Why Successful Companies Are Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Your Short Guide to the California Resale Certificate