“Who needs a photographer? – I can just use my phone!”, Not quite. Good camera technology is becoming more accessible for non-professional photographers every day.

Before you pull out your smudged smartphone and place yourself in front of a grey wall and wonder why it doesn’t look like the latest iPhone ad you just saw, there are a few things you can do.

Technology goes a long way but for the best results, we think it requires the human touch. And there’s a lot you can do with limited equipment and a sprinkle of knowledge. Let us explain.

Professional headshots are a crucial part of your personal or business brand. They represent you, or your business’s, professional image and can be an essential tool for making a great first impression.

Home-made-looking photos can make you seem inexperienced and unqualified, but getting a professional photographer to help can be expensive and challenging, especially as your business grows and changes with the need for constant updates.

So we thought we’d share some of our best tips for taking professional headshots yourself.


preparation is key

Before the shoot, it’s important to set the scene and establish a style that can be easily replicated for multiple staff. Try to choose something that portrays your brand.

Is your brand fun and light-hearted? Choose an outdoor location and a more candid look. Is your brand down-to-earth and a bit more sober? Choose a plain background in an office setting. Think about the types of clothes, hair and makeup that could be useful in representing your brand.


lighting is everything

Soft light will flatter your subject, while harsh light creates unnecessary shadows. If you’ve chosen an outdoor location, a cloudy day will be your best friend. Try and take note of where the sun is and place your subject at an angle where the sun is evenly lighting their face. Take some test shots and move around until you find the sweet spot.

If you want a more controlled environment, indoors can be a better option, but look out for ceiling spotlights directly above you as they can cast some undesirable shadows.

If you are prepared to buy studio lights, this will help as you can decide exactly where the light will hit. Try one light facing directly towards your subject and another light from the side. Check that the face is evenly lit and no harsh shadows can be seen.


pay attention to the background

The background should complement your subject, not overpower them. Simple or neutral-coloured backgrounds will bring them into focus. And don’t forget to make sure no unwanted objects can be seen.


get the right angle

Shooting slightly from below, or pointing the camera upward, can make people look bigger and seem more important and powerful while shooting from above, angled down makes people look smaller and weaker. Shooting eye-level straight on is the most neutral and friendly approach.


focus on the eyes

The eyes are the windows to the soul, they say. True or not, when we look at photos of people, the first thing we look at is the eyes, so make sure your subjects eyes are in focus.


don’t forget the little details

Sure, you might be a photoshop wizard, but it can save a lot of time making sure you’ve removed the strand of hair from your subjects face or covered that coffee stain on the white shirt with a blazer. You get the picture. It’s well worth spending a few seconds checking hair, clothes and background before shooting.


shoot in continuous mode

Some people can’t take a photo without blinking, some people smile naturally as soon as they think the camera is off. Get the best shot possible by selecting “continuous mode” and the camera will take multiple shots at once – this is possible on phones too.


capture personality + create a safe space.

People photograph best when they are being themselves. It’s easy to see in photos when people look forced or fake. Most people feel a little or very uncomfortable having their photo taken, so we want to create a space where they feel comfortable.

Some people might prefer if it’s just them with no one around to judge. Whilst on the other hand, we find setting up group scenarios can make people feel more natural.

Silence can feel awkward. And that will shine through in the final result. Try to make conversation with the subject, make them laugh.

If you’ve got a group, encourage them to have a chat and take shots of the people listening [avoid taking photos of the person who’s talking as you’ll likely get their face in all sorts of shapes].


final thoughts

Taking professional-looking headshots yourself can seem daunting but following this checklist will get you a step closer to having photos that represent your brand and your people. And when you’ve done it once, trust us – it gets easier!


we’re here to help

If DIY photography isn’t your thing, give the team at businessDEPOT Marketing a buzz on 1300BDEPOT or get in touch via marketing@businessdepot.com.au to discuss how we can help you.


get more marketing insights

If you found these tips and tricks useful and you’d like to get more information on all things marketing, you can sign up to our mailing box here!