How to pick your headshot

We’ve talked before about how to choose the right headshot photographer, the right clothes for your headshot and the right location for your photo shoot.

But how do you choose your final photos?

When I complete a headshot session in my studio, immediately following the photo shoot I view the photos with the client to narrow down the selections.  Depending upon whether the session is a basic headshot session or a session with clothing changes or background changes, we may have a dozen or two dozen photos to review.


These headshot selections from Carmen demonstrate how different poses and outfits can be used to convey a different message.
These headshot selections from Carmen demonstrate how different poses and outfits can be used to convey a different message.

The client narrows down the selection to one image or more depending on their needs.  One of the first questions I hear is, “what do you think” or “how do you choose your final photos? “

 Tips for successful headshot choice

  • Use the buddy system-No one sees themselves the same as others see them so it’s best to have a second opinion from a trusted friend who will give honest feedback if you don’t feel you can pick the image that best represents you.
  • Two head (shots) are better than one-Consider using more than one photograph. Different uses might need different photos. Facebook is more social, LinkedIn is obviously more professional, and blogs are more personal. Some clients choose two or three separate headshots to represent sides of their business. For example, choosing one photograph for a professional blog, another one for a speaker bio and another one for LinkedIn.  The goal here is consistency with your image but with a personality variation that is appropriate for the audience.
  • Ask the photographer-Since you already discussed with the photographer what and why you need a headshot it will be easier to narrow down the images that best represent the message you want to send your audience.  Talk with the photographer as you narrow the selection by being honest about how you see one smile versus another, how much of your body is showing, which angle your face is in or which camera angle works best.  They will be able to tell you what aspects of the photo that you don’t like might be easy to edit.  Your photographer can tell you what they see, objectively, when he or she looks at each photo. This will help you understand how others will interpret your image.


Process of elimination

It is easy to get overwhelmed when you have a couple dozen photos staring at you so I work with the client by taking it in steps.

First, we review what the client needs and what we need to accomplish by choosing the photos. With those thoughts in mind, we start looking at the photos.

I pull up a grid of 2-6 similar poses at once and I have the client tell me at first glance which ones they do not like.  I then remove those from our photo viewer and add the new similar poses to compare to the photos they liked. We continue this until we have made it through all the photos and have narrowed down the selection.

The elimination process becomes more of a comparison game as we examine details such as expression, position and overall feel of the photo.  Essentially, of the groupings that are similar, which photo in each group conveys the most desired emotion?

By this time, we start looking at the various expressions and focus the discussion on needs. It’s then necessary to choose what photos might be needed for a given purpose, such as a speaker bio or a specific social media site.

Most photographers will save the top choices for their clients for a given time and will work up only the ones that are immediately needed. I will discuss with the client the type of photo editing I will do to make the image the best representation of the client. I will not change the way a client looks physically but I will clean up the image so to speak and tell the client the final image will be them but better.

Now that we’ve discussed how to get the perfect headshot, let me ask you this: is it time to update your image? Give me a call, I’d love to discuss your needs.