A Guide to Professional Headshot Photography in London
Are you looking for a professional headshot for your personal brand or your company and you’re not sure where to begin? No need to look any further.
I have prepared this article as a comprehensive guide into the world of professional headshot photography, discussing how it has evolved from its earliest iterations to what it is today, the purpose, different formats, cost, and how to prepare for a session as well as how to choose the best professional headshot photographer in London
In today’s digital world, professional headshot photography has become an essential tool for personal branding across various industries. Whether you’re a corporate executive, an actor, a model, or a freelancer, continue reading to find out how a polished and compelling professional headshot can help you be more visible and grow your presence.
Professional Portrait and Headshots Photographer in London
As a London-based portrait photographer specialising in business and headshot photography, I have worked with many clients who were at first nervous about having their photos taken.
Through this article I want to take the opportunity to explain what professional headshot photography in London involves as I know it can feel complicated and intimidating for some people. I hope this guide will help you feel confident and ready for your own professional headshot photography session by breaking it down and providing advice on how to present yourself as well as the latest trends and techniques in headshot photography.
What is a professional headshot?
A professional headshot is a carefully crafted photographic portrait that focuses on an individual’s face and captures their head and shoulders, with the purpose of presenting a polished and approachable image for professional use.
Professional headshots are widely used in various industries, business, entertainment, modelling, and personal branding.
The origins of headshot photography go back to the early days of portraiture, when painters and photographers sought to capture the essence of individuals through close-up depictions of their faces.
It wasn’t until the rise of the film and entertainment industry in the 20th century that headshots truly came into their own, in particular with actors and actresses who used headshots as a visual résumé for casting directors and as a means to secure roles in films.
Gradually headshots started growing in other areas and ultimately integrated into business culture, with executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals wanting to present themselves in a polished and approachable manner.
In today’s digital world and online presence, headshots have become powerful tools for personal branding, professional competence and networking.
Choosing a Style
Headshots come in a variety of types and formats, each tailored to suit different professional needs and personal preferences. Understanding these options can help you choose the right style for your specific goals.
Classic and versatile, traditional headshots feature a clear and close-up view of your face, typically from the shoulders up. These are commonly used for corporate profiles, websites, and professional documents. Neutral backgrounds and subtle expressions are often favoured to maintain a polished and approachable appearance.
This style incorporates the surroundings and three quarters of the body to provide context and convey a specific professional vibe. Environmental headshots can be taken in your office, a coffee shop, or any setting that aligns with your brand. These shots offer a glimpse into your sense of style and presentation, adding authenticity to your image
For those in creative industries or looking to showcase their unique personality, creative headshots offer an opportunity to experiment with poses, lighting, and artistic elements. These shots can range from dramatic lighting and bold poses to incorporating props or even showcasing a hobby or passion.
Character / Actor Headshots
Actors and performers often use character headshots to demonstrate their range and ability to portray various roles. These shots may be full body for e.g. for a dancer or musician and can include different hairstyles, makeup, and expressions, providing a glimpse into the different characters an actor can play.
In corporate settings, group headshots can feature a team or department and foster a sense of unity and professionalism. These shots are commonly used in company websites, reports, and promotional materials to display the people behind the organisation.
Horizontal vs. Vertical Formats
Headshots are often available in both horizontal (landscape) and vertical (portrait) formats. Horizontal formats are well-suited for websites and promotional materials, while vertical formats are commonly used for LinkedIn profiles and other social media platforms.
Black and White vs. Colour
The choice between black and white or colour headshots depends on the mood and style you want to convey. Black and white can add a timeless and sophisticated feel, while colour can enhance vibrancy and capture the nuances of your appearance.
Ultimately, the type and format of headshot you choose should align with your professional objectives and personal brand. Carefully consider your industry, target audience, and the message you wish to convey to make an informed decision that best represents you in the world of personal and professional networking.
Who needs Professional Headshots?
A wide range of people from various professions and industries can benefit from having a professional headshot. Here are some categories.
- Business Professionals: Executives, managers, and employees across industries can use professional headshots for their company profiles, websites, and marketing materials.
- Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners: Owners of small businesses often use headshots to establish a personal connection with their clients and convey their brand identity.
- Career progression: Individuals looking for new opportunities can use professional headshots on their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and job application materials to make a positive first impression on potential employers.
- Actors and Performers: Actors, musicians, dancers, and other performers need headshots to showcase their range and capture the attention of casting directors and agents.
- Models: Models use headshots as part of their portfolio to demonstrate their versatility to potential clients and agencies.
- Authors and Speakers: Writers and public speakers use headshots for book covers, promotional materials, and event profiles to establish their authority and engage their audience.
- Healthcare Professionals: Doctors, therapists, and medical professionals often use headshots on their clinic websites, social media, and professional directories.
- Real Estate Agents: Real estate professionals use headshots to build trust and a personal connection with potential clients looking to buy or sell properties.
- Lawyers and Legal Professionals: Attorneys and legal experts use headshots on their firm’s website, in legal publications, and in marketing materials.
- Educators: Teachers, professors, and educational administrators use headshots for academic profiles, conference presentations, and educational websites.
- Corporate Teams: Entire teams or departments within a company may have group headshots that showcase the people behind the organization.
- Consultants and Coaches: Consultants, life coaches, and business coaches use headshots to establish credibility and build trust with clients.
- Politicians and Public Figures: Political candidates and public figures use headshots for campaign materials, websites, and official profiles.
- Freelancers: Freelancers in design, writing, photography, and other creative fields often use headshots to showcase their skills and approachability.
- Social Media Influencers: Influencers use headshots as part of their social media profiles and branding to connect with their followers.
In today’s digital age, where personal branding and online presence are crucial, having a professional headshot has become almost a necessity for individuals seeking to make an impact in their chosen field.
What is the cost of a professional headshot?
While there are upfront costs with a professional headshot, ultimately that is an investment in your brand and good quality and polished headshots will help you grow your image and reputation.
The cost of a professional headshot session in London varies widely from hundreds to thousands of pounds and there are some factors to consider when you’re doing your research. For a headshot photography session in London be prepared to pay between £100 and £500 depending on the photographer, their experience, studio, style, reputation and packages they offer.
Here’s a general breakdown of what you might expect:
- Photographer Expertise: Established photographers with a strong portfolio and experience often charge more for their services.
- Location: The cost of living and the photography market in your area can influence the price. Headshot prices might be higher in urban areas compared to smaller towns.
- Session Type: Different photographers offer various packages, such as basic sessions, extended sessions, or group rates. The type of session you choose will affect the cost.
- Number of Images: Some packages include a set number of final images, while others might charge per image. The more images you need, the higher the cost might be.
- Retouching: Basic retouching, which includes minor skin corrections and adjustments, is often included. More extensive retouching or specific editing requests might come with an additional cost.
- Usage Rights: Consider how and where you plan to use the images. If you need commercial usage rights (for advertising, promotions, etc.), it might cost more than personal usage rights (for social media or personal branding).
- Studio Rental: If the photographer operates from a studio, there might be additional costs associated with renting the studio space.
- Extras and Add-Ons: Some photographers offer extra services like makeup and styling, on-location shoots, wardrobe changes, and expedited delivery for an additional fee.
To get an accurate estimate, it’s recommended to reach out to photographers in your area, discuss your specific needs, and request detailed pricing information. Always remember that while cost is a factor, the quality and results you receive from a skilled photographer can have a substantial impact on your professional image.
Choosing a Photographer for your Professional Headshots
Choosing a professional headshot photographer in London can be overwhelming especially with the high number of professional headshot photographers near you.
Here are some tips on how to choose the best headshot photographer for you.
- Research and Review Portfolios: Start by looking at the portfolios of various photographers. Examine their previous work to get a sense of their style, versatility, and the quality of their images. This will help you determine if their aesthetic matches your vision.
- Understand Their Expertise: Different photographers specialize in various niches, such as corporate, entertainment, or creative industries. Look for a photographer with experience in the type of headshot you need. Their expertise in capturing the right mood and expression for your field is invaluable.
- Read Reviews and Testimonials: Look for client reviews and testimonials to gain insights into their professionalism, communication skills, and the overall experience of working with them. Positive feedback indicates a photographer who values client satisfaction.
- Meet or Communicate: Schedule a consultation or have a conversation with potential photographers. This allows you to discuss your requirements, ask questions, and gauge their level of professionalism. A photographer who listens to your needs and offers suggestions is a good fit.
- Discuss Pricing and Packages: While cost is a factor, it shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor. Discuss pricing, packages, and what’s included. Ensure you understand the details and whether any additional costs might arise.
- Visit Their Studio (If Possible): If the photographer has a studio, consider visiting it before the shoot. This can give you an idea of the equipment they use, the lighting setup, and their overall working environment.
- Check for Equipment and Setup: Inquire about the equipment and setup the photographer uses. Professional lighting and camera equipment play a significant role in creating high-quality headshots.
- Ask About Retouching: Enquire about their retouching process. Some level of retouching is common to address minor imperfections while maintaining a natural look.
- Discuss Location Options: Depending on your preference, you might want to shoot in a studio, an outdoor location, or your own workplace. Ensure the photographer is adaptable to your chosen setting.
- Review Contract and Terms: Before finalizing your decision, carefully read and understand the contract terms. Ensure you’re clear on issues such as copyright, image usage, and what happens in case of rescheduling or cancellations.
- Trust Your Instincts: Ultimately, go with a photographer you feel comfortable with and who understands your vision. A good working relationship can significantly impact the outcome of your headshots.
- Ask for Recommendations: Reach out to colleagues, friends, or professionals in your network who have had successful headshot sessions. They might be able to recommend photographers they’ve had positive experiences with.
Choosing the best headshot photographer is an investment in your professional image. Take your time, do thorough research, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. When you find a photographer who aligns with your vision and understands your needs, you’re on the path to capturing headshots that truly represent you.
How to make the most of your professional headshot session?
- Get a good night’s sleep before the session to look refreshed.
- Drink Water: Staying hydrated helps your skin look its best. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the session.
- Exercise: Engaging in physical activity before your session can help you feel energised and refreshed.
- Get fresh air: If possible, spend some time outside before your session. Fresh air can help clear your head and give you an energy boost.
- Hair: Ensure your hair is clean and styled. Avoid trying new hairstyles on the day of the session; stick with a style you’re comfortable with.
- Makeup: Professional hair and makeup artists can help you look your best, they can help you with the right hairstyle, makeup and colour that suit your face features.
- Skin Care: Keep your skin clean and moisturised in the days leading up to the session. Avoid harsh treatments that might cause redness.
- Nails: If your hands might be visible in the shots, make sure your nails are clean and well-groomed.
- Plan Your Outfits: Select outfits that reflect your industry and the message you want to convey. Avoid busy patterns and bright colours that might distract from your face.
- Relax and Be Yourself: Nervousness can come across in photos. Try to relax and be yourself during the session. A skilled photographer will help guide you through poses and capture your authentic self.
- Review Images During the Session: Some photographers allow you to review images during the session. This helps you see what’s working and make adjustments if necessary.
- Take Breaks: If your session is longer, take short breaks to refresh yourself. Hydrate and touch up your hair and makeup if needed.
- Trust the Photographer: Remember that the photographer is skilled in capturing the best angles and expressions. Trust their guidance and expertise.
- Review the Images: After the session, the photographer will provide you with a selection of images to choose from. Take your time to review them and select the ones that resonate with your goals.
- Consider Post-Processing: If offered, discuss retouching options with the photographer. However, aim for natural enhancements that maintain your authentic appearance.
- Use Your Headshots Strategically: Once you have your final images, update your online profiles, business cards, and other relevant materials. Make the most of your investment by consistently using your headshots across various platforms.
By following these steps and collaborating closely with your chosen photographer, you’ll be able to make the most of your headshot session and capture images that effectively communicate your professional identity and aspirations.
Posing and Expression
There is a lot to be said about posing and how you stand and present yourself in your professional headshots. A great headshot photographer will work with you and your particular body features to make sure you are standing, leaning, or sitting in the best way.
Your facial expression is also important and you want to show genuine expressions that reflect your personality. Some tips on how to approach posing while Working with your photographer to experiment with different poses and expressions:
- Confidence: Maintain good posture and exude confidence through your body language.
- Engagement: Engage with the camera by looking directly into the lens with a warm and approachable expression.
- Variety: Capture a range of expressions, from serious and professional to friendly and approachable. This gives you a diverse set of images to choose from.
What if I don’t feel confident about getting Professional Headshots?
Like in all other areas of our lives, where we do things that are outside of our comfort zone, having professional headshots can be intimidating for some people and an experience they might feel “is not for me”.
It is important therefore to discuss these limitations and not let them hold you back.
1. “I’m Not Photogenic”
It’s a common misconception that only naturally photogenic individuals can have great headshots. Skilled photographers specialise in capturing your best angles, highlighting your unique features, and bringing out your personality. They can guide you through poses and expressions that highlight your strengths, ensuring that your headshot reflects your best self.
2. “Headshots are Expensive”
While professional photography does come at a cost, it’s essential to view it as an investment in your professional identity. The benefits of a polished and competent image, such as improved networking opportunities, enhanced personal branding, and increased job prospects, can far outweigh the initial expense. Additionally, many photographers offer packages tailored to various budgets, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals.
3. “I Don’t Need a Headshot”
In a digital age where we are all online with our individual profiles and presence,, having a professional headshot is a powerful asset. Whether you’re a job seeker, entrepreneur, creative professional, or simply looking to make a memorable impression, a headshot conveys professionalism and approachability. It’s a visual introduction that can help you stand out in a crowded digital landscape.
4. “I’m Not in a Glamorous Industry”
Headshots aren’t limited to glamorous industries like entertainment and fashion. Regardless of your field, a polished headshot communicates your competence, reliability, and commitment to your profession. From business executives to educators, professionals in every sector can benefit from a headshot that helps them connect with their target audience.
5. “I Can Just Use a Selfie”
While selfies have their place, they might not convey the same level of professionalism as a well-executed headshot. Professional photographers have the expertise to optimise lighting, composition, and expressions to create a polished image. A high-quality headshot demonstrates that you’ve invested time and effort into presenting yourself in the best possible light.
6. “I’m Camera-Shy”
Feeling camera-shy is entirely normal, and experienced photographers understand this. They can create a comfortable and supportive environment during the photoshoot, guiding you through poses and expressions to capture authentic and appealing shots. Overcoming camera shyness with the assistance of a professional can boost your confidence both in front of the lens and in your professional endeavours.
Professional headshots are a valuable tool in today’s competitive world. Rather than avoiding it, accepting and taking action will be more beneficial in the long run to your professional image and business and career prospects.
Ready to get started with your own professional headshot session?
I hope this has given you some in-depth information about professional headshot photography, what it is, why you might need it, what are the different types of headshots, how to prepare, how to choose the right photographer, what is the cost range, discussing what might hold you back and how to go about taking that first step towards more visibility.
Professional headshot photography is an investment in your image and brand. A good headshot can open doors and make a lasting impression. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to create headshots that truly reflect your unique identity and aspirations.
Laura Shimili Mears, Professional Portrait and Headshot Photographer in London.