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When trying to determine how a headshot should look, it is important to realize the purpose of a headshot. Our world is so heavily visual that you have to present your self visually.  It used to be that if you wanted something like a new dating partner, a new job, new clients, etc. personal connections were often the best avenue to market yourself and find what you were seeking.

Not anymore!  The Internet, with Linkedin, Facebook, Tinder, and other apps has become one of the primary go to mediums for meeting people, finding jobs, connecting with like minded groups. And all of these Internet pipelines primarily depend on visuals.  Of course there are some words, but the visual is what first gets out attention.  And of course, although admonished not to. we all tend to judge a book by its cover.

So you want a visual that above all is pleasing to look at. And this will apply to almost all usages except possibly if you are auditing for a part in a horror movie.  Let’s look at each one separately.

Linkedin – Prospective employers are looking primarily for character and competence.  And the same can be said for prospective clients. A Linkedin headshot is cropped in close on the face because your face most readily shows your character. A cropping that shows a bit of clothing such as a white coat or business suit also gives an indication by reference of your competence for the position.  Now we all know we really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But in today’s digital world that is all we have initially to go on and it serves us well in sifting through all the choices.  Also remember, the Linkedin real estate is pretty small.  So you only have a couple of inches to get your message across.   Conveying other characteristics such as affability, friendliness or fierce determination will depend on the role you are seeking, a charming real estate agent or perhaps a no holds barred trial attorney.

Dating sites – These sites allow for a bit more flexibility and more images such as a full length photo.  But the headshot is still a key element as it shows your character best.  You can get a little more adventuresome with the full length shot.  But the headshot should be a simple, honest image.  Although your body, dress, posture does give information about you, the most important information in conveyed in your face and your expression.  YOur headshot should be direct, warm, and authentic.  One of my favorite northwest headshot photographers, Damon Bates at Damon Bates Photography in Boston, MA, exemplifies all of the above in his headshot work.  



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