Tips for Capturing Authentic Headshots

Why do we need headshots…

Corporate headshots are essential for showcasing the professionals behind and working in a company and creating a positive first impression – usually on the About us page of your website and on professional networking sites.

However, traditional headshots often lack authenticity and fail to reflect the true personality of the individuals being photographed. Here I will share valuable tips to help you capture authentic and engaging corporate headshots  

Copyright of McFade Photography



Create a Comfortable Environment:

To capture authentic expressions, it’s crucial to create a comfortable and relaxed environment for your subjects.

By that, I don’t mean soft furnishings and a footstool, but engage in conversation, make them feel at ease, and build rapport. Talking takes away the fear and discomfort. When people feel comfortable, their genuine personalities shine through, resulting in more authentic and natural-looking headshots. So ALWAYS take the time to talk and get to know your subjects, allowing their true selves to emerge in front of the camera.

Use Good Light

Unless you’re really experienced with lighting, opt for natural light as it tends to produce softer and more flattering results. Natural light helps create a warm and inviting atmosphere, enhancing the authenticity of the headshots.

“Good light” is usually the diffused natural light, such as near a window or in an outdoor setting. It avoids harsh shadows and creates a more natural appearance. Natural light also provides a sense of familiarity and enhances the overall aesthetic of the headshots.

That said, I always use Flash because I’ve been doing it for 17 years and know how to set it up to get the look I’m after. In my lighting I usually have a large key light, maybe a 1m square softbox, then at least 1 rim light, to create separation from the background AND give that distinctive Hollywood look I love.

So it’s up to you – I’d always suggest natural light near windows for beginners, and if you’re confident enough, move on to flash later

Focus on Expressions, Not Poses:

Encourage your subjects to express their genuine emotions and personalities during the session.

Instead of relying on rigid poses, prompt them to engage in conversation, think about a recent accomplishment, or share a funny anecdote. Genuine expressions and natural body language can make the headshots more relatable and approachable. Capture those candid moments that reflect their true selves, even if they deviate from traditional headshots.

This goes hand in hand with talking to people – you can get reactions by just chatting – often using humour, suggestions, ideas, strange questions… all the time looking through the camera, waiting to click that perfect moment. 

Pay Attention to Body Language:

Body language speaks volumes in headshots. Encourage your subjects to adopt a relaxed posture and avoid strict instructions. If you give them too much to do, it shows on their faces – the fewer instructions the better.

Ensure they feel confident and at ease, if they’re struggling, then maybe see what things like “crossed arms” do, though that’s a defensive pose, it can change how people stand positively. The main thing is to give “gentle guidance” on body positioning to capture their best and most natural angles. I use me hand to subtly guide them – it’s a bit like The Force in star wars sometimes 🙂

Show Personality through Wardrobe:

Encourage your subjects to dress in a way that reflects their professional style and personality. I usually suggest a business/smart look for starters, then a more relaxed, casual feel. 

Advise them to wear things that they feel comfortable and confident in, while still aligning with the company’s brand and industry. Personal touches, such as accessories or items that showcase their hobbies or interests, can add depth and personality to the headshots.

The main guide for me is – it’s what their clients would expect people to wear when they meet in person… 


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