Headshots. The subject seems to send trickles of fear through the spine. People who consider a headshot ask both, What should I do for my headshot? and What should I NOT do for my headshot? It’s no surprise that an equally important to question to ask is – What does your headshot say about YOU?


All about the interaction

A  headshot is all about interaction with others. It’s people to people. So, should it be loud and shout out, or should it be more subtle? It’s about what you want to communicate to people who see it and what people who view it expect to see and what they get from it. With all that being in the mix, how could it ever be easy?

It’s equally no surprise then, that the answer is: It depends!

I realize that may sound vague, but bear with me. Understanding the differences can make — or totally break — your headshot.


Many things to consider

When people think of a shouty headshot, they imagine that the headshot is shouting, “PICK ME! PICK ME! HIRE ME! HIRE ME!”

Now, ultimately your headshot should be saying exactly that, but it’s the way it says it that’s important. It’s unlikely someone will hire you based on a headshot alone. Someone will normally hire you based on what they see when they look further, but your headshot will be the first stage of that engagement. Your headshot is important.


Shouting the wrong message

Unfortunately for many people, their headshot is indeed the end of the engagement. They have unknowingly removed themselves from the list of prospects. They have eliminated themselves by shouting the wrong message.

In a professional situation, where a hiring manager or potential client is looking through many profiles, one of the first things they do is narrow down the choice by elimination. It’s a huge time saver for the person hiring and a vital factor for your photo.


Examples of wrong messages

A headshot with a lot of blank space is shouting DON’T HIRE ME.

A headshot taken casually on a night out is shouting DON’T HIRE ME.

A headshot wearing the wrong style of clothing is shouting DON’T HIRE ME.


There are many examples of the full-on shouty photos. They look salesy. They look desperate. They look unprofessional.


Shouting the right message

So, if we want to shout, but not repel at the same time, how do we do it? We do it by thinking about what the employer or potential client is actually looking for. Employers and potential clients are looking for someone who gives them confidence that they will fully deliver the expected result. What you wear, how you pose, head only, half body, full body — all of this makes a difference.


Examples of the right message

Showing up as professional, trustworthy, presentable, responsible will get you through to an in-person meeting. So, by taking that idea on, we can have a photo that shows all those things. We are still shouting loudly and clearly, but we’re shouting what the employer or potential client wants to hear — not simply what we want to shout.  It’s subtle shouting.


That’s a LOT to get in with a headshot!

You’ve got to shout certain things, not shout others, and shout by not shouting at all? Yes, that’s pretty much it. And to sum up whether our headshot needs to shout or not – yes, it needs to shout. But it only needs to shout enough to get prospects to look more, not to deafen them and send them running. That’s how you shout with a headshot.


Hire a professional

This is a fundamental reason for getting your branding shots done by a professional. They will ask you the right questions to know what your prospects are looking for. They will then use their skill and experience to create shots to put that subtle shouting across. In the end: NO FOGHORNS NEEDED!







Photos courtesy of Jo Ames

Jo Ames

I’m Jo, an international photographer, working in Europe and the USA, with over 12 years of experience. I have always been passionate about photography, since the age of 5 when I picked up a camera to capture an amazing sunset. I moved to Cornelius 6 years ago and I’m loving life here. I love to empower my clients by freeing up their time and creating more confidence in themselves through the creation of on-brand, tailored images that truly represent their brand.  “I’m all about You.”




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