What makes a great headshot?

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As a personal branding and headshot photographer based in Brighton, I am often asked what makes a great headshot. Many of my clients are the face of their business, or have ‘personality’ brands - they’re entrepreneurs, coaches, designers and freelancers - and they need to be on top of their game where their personal brand is concerned. Here are some of the crucial ingredients for an awesome set of headshot photos, with some real life examples.  

  1. Build your personal brand

Every element of your headshot photos - your facial expression, the outfits you wear, the location - gives the viewer a sense of your personal brand, so think about what message you want to send to your potential customers. If you’re the face of your business, make sure your headshots capture your personality.  

In my recent shoot with leadership coach Jo Murfin, my brief was to emphasise her professionalism and experience, whilst at the same creating headshots that were stylish and fun. We incorporated Jo’s brand colours and shot the photos outdoors, using a range of backdrops which look smart and professional but not corporate.   

 Woman standing in the street in Brighton wearing a brown dress  Woman sitting in front of a blue door in Brighton smiling and looking at the camera


“I wanted something colourful and energetic, which reflected my personality and my professional brand at the same time - Lauren certainly achieved that!”

Jo Murfin - headshot client 

The outfit you choose for your headshot shoot can speak volumes about you. Singing teacher Rosie Secker chose a fun music-themed slogan T-shirt for her headshot shoot, helping her to tell her story and connect with her audience.  

Woman leaning against the wall and smiling at the camera in Brighton Woman standing in the street in Brighton smiling at the camera


  1. Location, location, location 

The location you choose for your headshot photo shoot instantly gives the viewer some helpful clues about you, and what it’s like to work with you. For example, if your business is all about the environment, like Brighton-based ecologist Rachel Bicker, choose a beautiful rural setting.

Graphic Designer Chloe Upton wanted to emphasise her Brighton & Hove location in her headshots, whilst at the same time being colourful, creative and fun, so we chose the beach huts as a backdrop to instantly conjure up the right vibe for her clients. 

“Lauren’s eye for colour and vibe in the shots was spot on - the backgrounds she chose totally capture the feel I was after for my brand.”

Chloe Upton - headshot client 

Woman crouching down in Preston Park in Brighton and holding a map Woman standing next to the beach huts on the seafront in Hove looking at the camera


  1. Tell a story

Storytelling is a crucial element of a successful headshot, and using props and accessories is a great way to help you tell a compelling story with your business profile photos. When making decisions about who to work with, most of us will choose someone like-minded who tells a story that resonates with us. Give your potential customers something they can connect with, so they think to themselves: “Hey, this person is like me!” 

Woman holding a violin and looking at the camera in Pavilion Gardens in Brighton Cyclist leaning on his bicycle in front of the West Pier in Brighton


  1. Be colourful

It’s quite simple - colour is eye-catching! We are bombarded with images and content on social media, and a colourful headshot will instantly catch people’s attention and help your marketing content jump off the screen. Colour can also be used to evoke emotions in the viewer (blue for calm, yellow for happiness), and it can be a great way of helping you tell your story and inject personality into your business headshots. Plus, incorporating your brand colours will help your headshots to complement the rest of your visuals on your website and social media. 

Woman standing on the step of a blue and yellow coloured house in Brighton Health coach Lauren Stoney sitting at a table outside Flour Pot cafe in Brighton


  1. Be authentic and natural 

Let your personality shine in your headshots. Your photographer will be an expert in building some rapport and helping you relax during your shoot, so they can capture plenty of natural, spontaneous moments, and you don’t end up with headshots that look stiff and staged. You don’t have to be grinning widely if that’s not your thing, but a great headshot will still have a very natural pose and facial expression, and be authentically ‘you’. 

Woman sitting at a table inside a cafe in Brighton looking away from the camera and smiling Man sitting in an armchair with his legs crossed, laughing as he looks away from the camera


If you’d like to upgrade your headshots, build a personal brand and connect with your audience on social media, let’s chat! Contact me