How to Take a Great Headshot (6 Tips)

photographer taking portraits in the street in North Sydney

How To Take Your Own Professional Headshot (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Ok, so you need a headshot to get a job or to start your own side hustle but because you need a job, you’re also on a tight budget.. it’s a catch 22?

Whatever the reason my be for favouring a DIY approach, I’m not going to sit here tell you that headshots are cheap. a typical rate for headshots in Australia can be anywhere between $100 and $1000.

Close to $400 being the sweet spot, where you’re likely to be using someone who knows a thing or two about photography and branding.

If you’re embarking on the DIY route, here’s a hands-on guide crafted from experience and industry best practices.

Gear Essentials:

    • Camera: A quality DSLR or mirrorless camera with a good lens will always give you a better result, along with more control.
    • Tripod: A tripod will give you much greater flexibility on where you can place your camera, whilst relying on natural light.
    • Remote Shutter or Self-Timer: This nifty tool lets you settle into your pose without racing the clock.

Location Scouting:

      • Control: While the allure of the outdoors is tempting, indoors often provides more predictable lighting.
      • Keep the backdrop simple. Whether you’re going for the minimalist wall or a sophisticated bookshelf, ensure it complements rather than competes with you.

Observe the light:

    • Natural light, streaming in gently from a window, can be some of the most flattering light you’ll ever use. Try varying your distance from the window and see how this changes how you look.
    • If you’re indoors and natural light isn’t enough, soft artificial lights can fill in the gaps. Ensure they don’t cast stark shadows, particularly under the eyes.
    • Reflectors, even a simple white board, can redirect light to make it more flattering.

Dress the Part:

    • Neutral, solid colors are timeless. Steer clear of busy patterns.
    • How you dress should echo your profession or the persona you’re aiming to project.
    • A quick check for lint or stray threads can make a world of difference.

Frame It Right:

    • Keep the camera at your eye level. It’s a subtle way to be more relatable. slightly lower framing (camera angled up) can give you a more esteemed appearance. Above eye-level (camera angled down) can make you appear less confident, however depending on a few other factors, this can also make you appear more approachable.
    • The ideal frame? Your face takes center stage, complemented by the upper part of your shoulders, with a smidgen of space above your head.

Facial Focus:

    • Eyes are windows to the soul, and in a headshot, they should be crystal clear. Ensure your camera’s focus is spot on.
    • Whether you’re going for the friendly approach with a smile or the stern CEO look, authenticity is key to a great headshot.

Pose & Posture:

First of all, I hate the word pose, it makes it seem So formal and fake.

    • Good posture conveys confidence. Keep those shoulders back and head held high.
    • Play around with slight tilts and turns. Sometimes, the most candid angles make the best shots.

Variety is Your Friend:

    • Change it up a little with every shot – a slight shift in angle, a change in expression. This gives you a buffet of options later.
    • Periodically review your captures. This can guide your next shots and refine your approach.


    • Software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom can be invaluable allies. They can enhance without making you look over-processed.
    • Aim for tweaks, not transformations. Adjust lighting, sharpness, and maybe touch up a blemish or two.


  • Before finalizing, share your captures with trusted colleagues or friends. Fresh eyes can offer invaluable insights and catch things you might have missed.

Embarking on this DIY journey requires more than just technical know-how. It’s about capturing your essence, your professional journey, and presenting it in the best light. Happy shooting!


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