In 2019, a San-Franscisco-based headshot studio commissioned a four months study to prove the importance of professional headshots. They asked 243 randomly selected people to rate the competence, likeability, and influence of 3 participants based only on their headshots. For comparison, they provided 1 professional headshot and 1 low-quality image of each participant.
The result? Professional headshots led to a 76% increase in how competent each participant appeared. It also increased their likeability and influence by 9% and 62%, respectively.
What does this tell you?
It tells me that in this era of on-screen first impressions, the professional imagery you put forward influences people’s perceptions of you. And in a big way.
Whether you’re getting ready to land your next job or to network with other professionals, a professional headshot presents you in the best light and makes others take you seriously.
So, today, I’ll show you 15 great professional headshot examples to inspire your next headshot shoot. I’ve sourced these headshots from across the web from a range of different industries. I’ve also rounded up expert tips (from pro photographers) for getting the best professional headshots.
But first —
What Makes A Great Headshot?
A confident, competent, and organized look that tells people who come across your online profile or digital business card that you know your stuff.
Because a headshot is to your personal brand what a logo is to a company, Dan Lewis, pro photographer at Badassity Brand Photography, says its job is to represent your unique personality, style, and energy.
He says a great headshot should be a mix of
- empathy and
At first glance, a person should be able to form an impression of who you are and decide whether you’re worth connecting with. This means your pose, outfit, and backdrop should be consistent with your personal brand and resonate with the people you’re connecting with.
Now that you know what a great headshot should look like, here are some headshot examples from different professions to inspire your headshot shoot.
15 Great Professional Headshot Examples and Why They Work
1. A Realtor Headshot Which Gives Off an Approachable Vibe
How do you imagine a realtor’s headshot should look?
I’d say professional, trustworthy, and kind, given the nature of their job. And that’s exactly how Damian’s LinkedIn headshot looks.
Whether you’re a male or female real estate agent, a formal business look helps define the kind of business you run. To that, a nice jacket, dress shirt, a tie (if male), and warm smile send just the right message — I’m the professional you can trust.
Even though Damian’s outfit gives his headshot a serious formal look, his warm smile and soft gaze make him look very approachable. Just from this headshot, you’d agree he’s the kind of realtor anyone would choose to work with.
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2. A Freelance Writer's Headshot With a Compelling Look
Freelance content writer Orgesa gets so many things right with her headshot. First, the plain background works well with her hair, outfit, and brand colors to keep the attention on her face.
Then her subtle smile and focused gaze make her appear compelling and likable. And if you’re a writer, that’s the kind of perception you’d want potential clients and industry peers to have when they come across your profile.
3. A Creative Headshot Example for A Graphic Designer
What I love about Maggie’s headshot is the creativity and thought she put into it.
From her pose to the grayscale theme, you can tell she understands the importance of showing off her personality while maintaining a tasteful look.
The days of wearing only formal outfits for professional headshots are long gone, especially if you work in a creative industry.
Now, when you network with professionals online, they want to see and connect with the personality behind your brand. So, if you’re a creative, capture it in your headshot. Let people get a hint of who you are by looking at the image on your profile.
4. A Sporting Director Headshot With a Smart, Impressive Look
I love how Chris’s formal outfit and studio setting give his headshot a professional look consistent with his industry. However, his big smile and happy eyes convey a relaxed, friendly personality which is great for creating an instant connection with people.
5. A Solopreneur With a Self-Assured Headshot
If you plan to become a successful solopreneur, then you understand that you’re the brand and the business. Therefore, you must look the part at all times, beginning with your headshot.
Justin Welsh’s Twitter headshot gets it right.
As someone who works primarily with early-stage startups and entrepreneurs, the dark background, stern look, and glint in his eyes send a powerful message—I’m confident, resilient, and professional.
One look at his headshot, and you’d think he's a serious businessman. And for someone whose business is building an audience and connecting with other professionals online, that’s a great first impression.
6. A Photographer’s Headshot With a Cheerful, Welcoming Vibe
For photographers, the feelings your headshot evokes give people a hint of what to expect should they decide to shoot with you.
Glynns’ headshot exudes a calm, friendly feeling, which can build trust with potential clients. Her wide smile invites you to relax while she helps you create the professional portraits you desire.
From the way she holds her camera up, you can tell she’s a photographer before you read her headline. Including an object or backdrop that shows your business or brand is always a great idea as long as it’s not distracting.
💡Pro Tip → If you’re a photographer, learn more about Blinq, the digital business cards photographers love.
7. An Architect’s Headshot With a Look of Competence
One thing Marica’s headshot gets right is it relates to the field she works in. Her jacket, hairstyle, and facial expression exude competence, the core quality expected of architects. The environmental background acts as a prop and adds context to her photo.
Even though she works in a professional field, her casual pose and genuine smile give off a cool, approachable vibe.
8. A Non-Profit Worker With an Environmental Style Headshot
The non-profit sector is often less formal than its corporate counterpart. So, a lovely outdoor headshot like Caroline’s is a great idea if you’re a charity or social worker.
Caroline’s wide smile gives her headshot a kind, authentic outlook. Her direct gaze is great for creating an emotional connection with the viewer. The natural background also brings a calm feeling that’s in line with her industry.
9. A Marketing Director’s Headshot With a Professional, Confident Look
People who work in marketing know that faces are a powerful part of personal branding.
A great headshot on your social profiles makes you look competent and builds a sense of trust with prospective clients and industry peers.
Take Adam’s headshot as an example. His sharp formal outfit and business-inspired silhouette are relatable to other professionals in his field.
His calm facial expression also sends a powerful message—I’m the guy you can trust to deliver successful outcomes for your business.
10. An Event Manager’s Headshot With a Nice Casual Look
For someone who works in the hospitality industry, Katherine's LinkedIn headshot does a great job of balancing business with casual.
Her nice outfit, charming smile, and backdrop align with her lifestyle brand.
👀Did you know?→ You can instantly share your headshot and other contact details with a single tap. Create your free Blinq card here 💡
11. A Captivating Chef Headshot
I’d say Takashi's headshot is everything a chef's headshot should be—illustrative and professional.
Though taken indoors, the natural light combines with his outfit and relaxed pose to give his headshot a captivating look.
As a chef, your headshot should reflect your style and personality as much as your food does.
So if the classic chef pose isn't your mojo, feel free to try something less traditional like smiling, laughing, or garnishing a dish.
12. A Vibrant Social Media Manager Headshot
What I love the most about Kassandra’s LinkedIn headshot is the overall play of colors. The solid background, green outfit, and dark hair work together to make her face and expression sparkle.
Considering the saturated industry she works in, a headshot like this helps her stand out.
At first glance, she checks a lot of boxes. Creative. Great personality. Approachable. These are traits business owners look for when hiring social media managers. So, make sure the headshot you put forward represents you accordingly!
13. A Psychologist's Headshot With a Friendly Look
For psychologists, it's important to balance professionalism with personality. If you’re meeting clients on social media, your headshot should communicate who you are and give them a hint of what it’s like to sit with you.
Take Jennifer's LinkedIn headshot as an example. She looks happy, friendly, and inviting—an awesome first impression for a psychologist and a great way to build trust with new clients.
The soft lighting combines with her smile and natural look to give the impression that she’s a kind and gentle person. It looks like she’s saying:, “l see you, you can speak to me, I want to listen.”
14. A Journalist's Headshot With a Calm, Collected Look
Part of being a journalist is approaching people you don’t know to ask for interviews. As such, a friendly and professional headshot goes a long way in determining whether they’ll decide to speak to you.
Take a look at Beth’s headshot.
It looks professional but is also inviting and approachable.
The studio lighting, plain background, and warm colors keep the viewer's attention on her face. Her slightly forward posture, appearance, and facial expression all feel soft and calming.
15. An Author’s Headshot With a Relaxed, Fun Vibe
If you’re an author, then understand that an impressive headshot is not only essential for your personal brand. It also gets people interested in reading your book.
Look at Roger Neilsen’s LinkedIn headshot. It’s
- looks intelligent and
The bright lighting and plain studio background keep the focus on his face. And though his outfit is business-like, his pose and facial expression suggest a fun and welcoming personality. It wouldn’t be out of place to assume his book will match his image.
Now, as you use the above examples as inspiration, keep the following tips from professional photographers in mind.
Top 4 easy ways to make your headshot look professional
1. Make Sure You Use Great Lighting
Whether it’s natural or artificial studio lighting, good lighting is key to getting a great professional headshot, says Paul Smith, headshot photographer at Paul David Smith Photography. He recommends taking some shots in both a studio and a natural setting.
“Professional photographers have studio flashes they can control. But if taking shots indoors using natural light, then ensure you have the photo taken near the window, so lots of light falls on your face. If outdoors, try to avoid direct sunlight as they make you backlit”.
2. Dress Properly and Comfortably
"You should dress in a way that represents your personal brand, specifically how your colleagues and clients would expect to see you.”
According to professional head photographer Richard Waine, your headshot won’t look great if you’re not comfortable in your outfit. Therefore, he recommends using the clothes you love as they help boost your confidence in front of the camera. However, they shouldn’t be overly busy or distracting.
3. Avoid Cluttered or Distracting Backgrounds
Cluttered or distracting backgrounds with bold patterns and logos detract from your image and take the focus away from you. You should also make sure the backgrounds you choose, whether indoor or outdoor, work well with your choice of outfit.
4. Be Yourself
The best professional headshot looks natural and brings out your best features. So, Paul David Smith recommends not overthinking or overdoing your facial expression.
What is The Best Color to Wear For a Professional Headshot?
When it comes to colors, both dark and light colors can work well. However, dark, solid colors do a better job of highlighting your features, says Chris Cottrell, headshot photographer at Cottrell Photographers.
What Outfit Should a Woman Wear For a Professional Headshot?
Headshot and commercial photographer, Glynns Thomas suggests using simple well-fitted clothing that keeps the focus on your face instead of your outfit. For instance, v-necks and button-down shirts can give you a lovely neck length, while flowy, loose-fitting clothes make you look bigger on camera.
How to Prepare For Your Professional Headshot
- Choose a photographer who specializes in headshot photography: Heike Martin, a headshot and branding photographer recommends choosing a headshot photographer you connect with on a personal level. According to her, such a photographer will communicate in a transparent and friendly manner. They’ll also help you relax, prepare for the shoot, and have an amazing experience, which will impact the quality of the images you get.
- Pick your outfits early, then press them to ensure they’re free from wrinkles, pet hair, and lint (studio light can pick those up).
- Get some rest before your shoot so you can relax better in front of the camera.
- Prepare to spend a decent amount of time in there because rushing can affect the quality of your headshots.
- Go into your headshot ready to have some fun and a few laughs.
Get Ready to Share Your Professional Headshot With Blinq
Now that you have your professional headshot ready, the best way to share it is with Blinq.
Blinq allows you to customize your digital business card with your professional headshot, personal branding, and contact information. Look at mine below.
Want to learn the basics of digital business cards? We’ve got you covered. Read our guide to discover how digital business cards work.
You can easily add your headshot to your business card by selecting it from your camera roll.
Once you’ve added it, go ahead and share your card with your network through the Blinq app.
Anyone who saves your card on their device or views it on social platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn will see your professional headshot.
Create your free Blinq digital business card today.