Tips to take your own professional headshot

You don’t need a fancy photoshoot to take professional headshots. Use these five easy tips.

Tips to take your own professional headshot

Five tips to taking professional headshots.

People say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a headshot with a significant other, friend, family member, pony, or adult beverage cropped out isn’t that valuable. You don’t need a full photoshoot to take professional headshots that you can use on social media, your profile at work, or anything else you need. Grab a friend and use these five easy tips to learn how to take a professional headshot. (Lights, camera, action!)

Use portrait mode

You don’t have a camera? No problem. You can use a smartphone to get some great headshots. Some phones have portrait mode, or something similar, so you can get the depth-of-field effect in which the subject (you!) is sharp but there is a blurred background. It’s just like the image you’d get if you adjusted the aperture on a professional camera.

Take advantage of natural light

When figuring out how to take a professional headshot, you'll find that your environment is key to getting the right mood. The best thing you can do is to have the photoshoot during the day. Natural light is the light that comes from sunlight, not a lightbulb, and is diffused and gentler on your skin.

Borrow a tip from pro photographers and take headshots during golden hour—an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset—because the light is warm and flattering on your face. If you take photos midday on a sunny day, the direct sun can be too bright and create harsh shadows.

Getting up at sunrise a bit too early for you? You can also make the most of natural light indoors when the light streams in through the windows.

Simplify your background

You don’t necessarily have to take your headshots in front of a blank wall: Get creative. Go outside and stand in front of a cluster of trees or use your street as the background. Remember, if you use portrait mode you can blur the background to keep the focus on your face. You can shoot inside and take your headshots at a library, at your desk, or somewhere in your office. The key is that the background shouldn’t be distracting—you should be the focus. It helps to have a friend take some photos that are framed from the waist up and some that are more zoomed in.

Dress the part

Remember that this is a professional headshot, so you want to look your best. Wear professional clothes that you would wear to work. (If your office-vibe is more Silicon Valley than Suits, wear what you’d wear to a job interview, on your first day, or to something that is more business professional than business casual.) Take a cue from newscasters and avoid bright colors, lots of texture, or patterns because they can be distracting. It’s best to wear solid colors for a headshot. Avoid wrinkles by steaming or ironing your outfit before the photoshoot.

Do a little editing

Download photo editing apps or find a tool online to adjust the lighting, saturation, or colors. You could also try sharpening yourself and adding blur to the background. Some photo editing apps will let you remove spots, blemishes, or unwanted objects. (Like if you got the perfect shot...but a pigeon was flying overhead.) Play around with different ways of cropping the photo and save them as different versions so you have more options. If you’re using your brand-new professional headshots for social media, check the recommended specs for each platform.

Picture your new job

Now that you know how to take a professional headshot, it's time to introduce your face to the world of hiring managers. Need help with that? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. We're ready for your close-up.