…It’s the difference between someone choosing to work with you, hire you, or even click on your dating profile.

And that’s why a photo taken from your smartphone just won’t cut it. Even though your iPhone-toting sister means well, unless she’s a professional photographer, chances are that image isn’t going to do you justice.

So, what are the elements that make a good “headshot”? 
  1. clothing
  2. hair & makeup
  3. lighting
  4. posing
  5. experience

In no particular order. They’re all important. You can’t pick and choose.

Here’s a before & after portrait of our recent client, Amy. The after picture is an example of how good an image can look with all five of these elements in action.

Business Portrait Before & After, Business Betties


I’ll start here because this is the question I get asked most: “What do I wear for my portrait?”

Gone are the days of wearing a power suit. It’s just not personal enough. That doesn’t mean you should toss on a pair of ripped up jeans and a ratty tee shirt. (Although, if you are a grunge rock artist, that might be just the thing.) Wear that shirt/dress/suit that makes you feel your best. That one piece of clothing that’s sure to fetch you compliments every time you wear it. If other people can’t help but tell you how stunning you look in that shirt (dress, jacket, insert piece of clothing here), THAT is what you should be wearing in your portrait.

General rules that work for everyone: slimming cuts, 3/4 sleeves, flattering colors, and jewelry that adds to the outfit, not overpowers it. Also, avoid black and white shirts (with some exceptions). Want to show a bit of personality? Add a pop of color or pattern under a black jacket.


Your everyday makeup just isn’t enough to show up on-camera. That’s why it’s important to hire a makeup artist who is experienced in working with photographers.

Now don’t freak out. Right before your session, you’ll take a look at your face and think “That’s too much! I’ve never worn that much makeup in my life.”

I guarantee you that as soon as you see your photo, what was too much will suddenly look natural. It happens every time.

When it comes to hair, you may want to schedule a blow out for the morning of your photo session. (It’s been scientifically proven to increase confidence! (Not really, but you know what I’m talking about, right ladies?))

Disclaimer- your headshot is not the time to go all glamour shots. Your business portrait is your opportunity to look like the best version of you. Not someone else.


Good lighting can be the difference between an impressive photograph and you looking like you’re auditioning for the next season of the Walking Dead.

Sometimes it will be natural light, other times it might mean that your photographer sets up a little artificial lighting. Either way, it’s a definite upgrade from the flash on your smartphone.


A professional photographer knows how to pose you so you look your best. We know you take amazing selfies, but it’s just not the same. Your photographer will direct you so that you’re head is tilted in just the right way. They’ll make sure you’re leaning just enough (but not too much) to minimize that double chin you’re worried about. It may feel unnatural, but go with it. The end result will be amazing.


Do your research. When hiring a professional photographer, make sure you take a look at their style of photography.  Ask friends who they’ve used and why they recommend that person. Does the photographer make you feel comfortable? Do they include retouching (without making you look like a Barbie doll)?

Take all these things into consideration when making your decision.


The person you trust with taking your business portrait will work each of these elements like a pro. And that’s important, because like we said, it’s so much more than just a headshot.


A big thank you to Amy Scott from Wild Apple Design for being our before & after model.
Like the photography? Business Betties can bring out your inner Betty. Learn more about un-corporate business portraits that show off your personality.