How to Take the Perfect Resume Headshots

In many fields, attaching a professional headshot to your resume or application is now standard. With recruiters often making snap hiring judgments in seconds, having a high-quality photo that puts your best foot forward can be a smart advantage in an ultra-competitive job market. But nailing resume headshots on your own without looking awkward or unnatural can be challenging. Avoid amateurish selfies or filters. To come across as polished, trustworthy and confident, consider investing in a professionally photographed resume headshot.

Why a Great Headshot Matters

Including a professionally photographed headshot on a resume or job application marks you as serious and invested in standing out. Here are some of the biggest benefits:

  • It puts a name and face together so you become more real vs just words on paper. Recruiters picture you as a person.
  • It conveys professionalism, attention to detail and understanding of presenting your brand.
  • It allows your personality, trustworthiness and competence to shine through.
  • It ensures you aren’t represented by an unflattering frame from a group photo or questionable social media picture.
  • It eliminates doubts or confusion over gender, race, age or otherdemographics applicants often face.

Overall, an impressive headshot gives you greater control over the visual narrative. Use it to your advantage.

Choosing the Right Photographer

While asking a friend to snap some quick photos may save money, the results likely won’t match hiring an experienced professional headshot photographer. Here’s what to look for:

  • A specialty in professional headshots specifically, not just general portraiture. This focuses their skills and gear on the best positioning, framing, lighting and retouching to make subjects shine.
  • A diverse portfolio of corporate headshot clients across industries, genders, ages and ethnicities. You want someone accustomed to photographing professionals like you.
  • A natural, timeless style vs overly trendy. Your headshot should still look modern in 10 years.
  • Great reviews and testimonials from past headshot clients.
  • Options for shooting outdoors or in a studio for ideal lighting control.
  • A comfortable, professional demeanor that puts you at ease.

If corporate headshots aren’t in their regular repertoire, keep looking. You want this specialty.

What to Wear The right wardrobe projects authority and credibility for different career fields. Follow these tips:

  • Stick to solid neutral colors that complement your complexion. Black, navy, light blue, beige, and gray are foolproof options against a plain background.
  • For men, wear a well-fitting jacket or blazer with a button-down collared shirt. Ties optional. Avoid suits unless required in your industry.
  • For women, blazers, tailored sheath dresses, or cardigans over blouses present professionally. Avoid distracting prints or loud colors.
  • Check the fit of clothes a few days before the shoot to allow time for tailoring or pressing if needed.
  • Style hair simply and naturally without risking major new cuts or colors right before.
  • Limit accessories that could date the photo. Simple jewelry like stud earrings is fine.

The goal is looking polished, confident and consistent with how you’d appear interfacing with clients or colleagues.

Ideal Posing and Angles

Posing comfortably while looking natural on camera takes practice. Use these tips:

  • Lift your chin slightly and don’t press it down toward your chest. This slims the jawline.
  • Draw attention up to your eyes by lowering your forehead slightly and relaxing the eyebrows down, not arching them high.
  • Pull shoulders back lightly and tilt head a few degrees rather than facing straight on.
  • Part lips slightly for a hint of a smile rather than clenching teeth.
  • Look slightly upward at the camera lens, not down at the ground.

Your photographer should direct small adjustments to achieve the most flattering angles. Take direction well.

Background and Composition

Ideally, opt for location headshots outdoors during the “golden hours” of dawn or dusk when lighting is soft. Nature backdrops like an open park or waterfront appear engaging while still keeping focus on you.

If shooting indoors, neutral solid color backgrounds work best. The emphasis should be you, not distracting backgrounds. Any outdoor foliage or architectural features should enhance, not compete with you.

Proper Lens Selection

Headshot photographers may use several lenses to achieve different looks:

  • Telephoto lenses compress features flatteringly from farther away.
  • Prime lenses give sharp focus and bright aperture for studio-style shots.
  • Wide lenses shoot from closer with more environmental context.
  • Zoom lenses allow photographers to tweak focal lengths.

Trust their vision for which lens choices complement your look, goals and setting best. Softer focus lenses intentionally blurring backgrounds also create an editorial, magazine-worthy aesthetic.

Posture Fundamentals

How you hold yourself impacts how viewers perceive you:

  • Stand tall with chin parallel to the ground, chest lifted, shoulders back.
  • Avoid tension that looks stiff. Keep knees soft, weight balanced between both feet.
  • Let arms hang naturally on both sides. Bend elbows slightly to avoid rigidness.
  • Don’t stuff hands in pockets or cross arms tightly.

Maintaining proper posture conveys assuredness and credibility. Take a breath and stand grounded.

Facial Expression Essentials

Your face must convey approachability, likeability and professionalism. Watch out for:

  • Forced smiles that look pained. Allow natural smiles to emerge.
  • Intense squinting if bright sunlight is obscuring vision. Use diffuse lighting.
  • Distracting reflections on glasses obscuring the eyes. Angle or remove glasses.
  • Tension in the jaw or furrowed brow that seems stern or cold. Relax.

Your expression should align with your personal brand. Portray genuine confidence.

The Retouching and Editing Process

Expect photographers to edit and retouch your chosen photo(s) for ideal presentation by:

  • Cropping tight to highlight your face as the focal point.
  • Removing stray hairs or blemishes for smoother skin.
  • Minimizing undereye circles, bags or redness.
  • Whitening teeth and eyes for brighter look.
  • Slimming jawline or refining facial features subtly.
  • Adjusting color balance, brightness, contrast for most flattering skin tone.

You’ll have the chance to request revisions before final approval. Provide honest feedback to get photos you love.

File Formatting

When delivering final edited headshots, professional photographers should provide:

  • Print-quality high-resolution JPEG and/or TIFF files.
  • Color profile embedded for accurate printing.
  • Mixed formats including black-and-white and color versions.
  • Files named clearly by your name and look.
  • Options for download, USB delivery or cloud sharing.

Optimized digital files let you print crisp headshots in any size for needs like resumes, conference banners, job interviews, websites and more.

Owning Non-Exclusive Image Rights

Reputable photographers will allow you to use photos for any professional purpose after purchase. Read licensing carefully. Expect:

  • Unlimited usage related to professional endeavors without requesting permission per use.
  • No geographic or time restrictions on where and how long you use photos.
  • No forced watermarks or photographer credits on reproductions.
  • Ability to freely transfer ownership of images to employers or clients.
  • Option to buy broader rights if pursuing high-visibility ventures like commercials.

Look for flexible usage terms that grant you freedom to maximize your investment in photographs.


Now that you understand what takes to capture stand-out resume headshots, avoid settling for amateur snapshots that undermine your career goals. Hiring a professional providing services for portrait photography Austin could be the difference-maker that lands your dream job in a competitive market. Use stellar visual branding to your advantage.

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