How to Take Fantastic Commercial Headshots in 2023 (7 Simple Steps)

Do you need to up your headshot game? Are you looking for the latest techniques and trends in taking commercial headshots this year? Whether you’re an aspiring model or a serious business professional, having a great headshot is essential — and it can be surprisingly easy to learn.

This post will cover everything you need to know about creating amazing commercial headshots in 2023, from what to wear, where to shoot, and different pose ideas. We’ll also get specific tips for setting up your subjects for maximum effect.

Read on for all the details!

Commercial Headshots: What is it?

Commercial headshots are professional photos of an individual, usually focusing on the face and shoulders, meant to represent the subject’s persona in a business or professional context.

These could be used on company websites, LinkedIn profiles, business cards, or even for self-promotion in acting or modeling. In essence, they’re like your professional identity card to the world.

They speak volumes about your professionalism, attitude, and commitment before you utter a word. Hence, it’s crucial to nail them right! But worry not; we’re here to make this task a breeze.

What are the Types of Commercial Headshots?

In commercial headshots, we see various types, each with unique charm and purpose. Let’s chat about the main ones, shall we?

  • Lifestyle Headshots: This type captures subjects in their natural element, often illustrating aspects of their life or hobbies. They’re fantastic for showing off your personality and making you relatable. You could be pictured reading, cooking, or even cycling – the possibilities are as vast as your interests!
  • Editorial Headshots: Editorial headshots are all about showcasing your professional side. These pictures are often posed but look candid, giving a glimpse into your life on the job. They’re trendy in journalism, fashion, culinary arts, and more. Think of a chef in their kitchen surrounded by colorful ingredients or a journalist at their desk with a flurry of papers – that’s the essence of an editorial headshot!
  • Environmental Headshots: With environmental headshots, the surroundings play a crucial role. The background provides context about you and your actions, making these headshots highly personalized and unique. This could mean an architect pictured in front of a building they designed or a teacher in a vibrant, busy classroom.

Why Are Commercial Headshots Important?

For many reasons, commercial headshots are pivotal in today’s digital world. Here are six key reasons why they are so important:

  • Creating a Powerful First Impression: In many instances, your headshot will be the first point of contact between you and potential clients, employers, or collaborators. A well-crafted commercial headshot can convey your professionalism, dedication, and attention to detail, providing a positive first impression.
  • Establishing Your Brand: Commercial headshots aren’t merely photos but crucial elements of your personal or professional branding. They can convey your brand story, highlighting the unique attributes that set you apart from the competition.
  • Building Trust: When people see a professional, high-quality headshot, they are more likely to trust you. This trust is vital in business relationships and can significantly contribute to your success.
  • Increasing Engagement: Whether it’s your LinkedIn profile or your company’s ‘About Us’ page, posts with high-quality images get more views and engagement. A striking commercial headshot can boost your visibility and engagement rates.
  • Providing Consistency: Consistency is key in maintaining your brand image. A series of professional headshots can provide a consistent visual identity across different platforms, promoting recognition and memorability.
  • Personalizing Your Professionalism: Last but not least, commercial headshots allow professionals to show a personal side within their professional context. This balance can make you more approachable and relatable, strengthening your connection with your audience.
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So, if you’re still contemplating getting a professional headshot, remember: it’s not just a photo – it’s your professional persona!

How to Take the Best Commercial Headshots: The Step-by-step Process

Before diving into the sequential steps involved in capturing phenomenal commercial headshots, it’s important to remember that the process isn’t just about snapping a photo.

It’s about capturing a person’s essence, professionalism, and unique qualities in a single shot. Now, let’s break down the steps to achieving that perfect shot:

Step 1: Planning & Preparation

First things first, planning and preparation are crucial. Discuss the purpose of the headshot, the desired image and brand the client wants to project, and any other specific requirements they might have.

Step 2: Selecting the Right Equipment

Next, select the right equipment. It’s not just about the camera; consider the lens, lighting, and other gear. For sharp, professional photos, a digital SLR or mirrorless camera with a high-quality lens.

Step 3: Find the Right Photographer

Hiring someone with expertise in commercial headshots is best if you’re not a professional photographer. Look at their portfolio and see if their style aligns with your vision.

Step 4: Choosing the Location

Choose a location that complements the subject’s profession and personality. This could be a studio for a more traditional headshot or an outdoor location for an environmental headshot.

Step 5: Setting Up the Shot

Set up the shot, considering lighting, angles, and background factors. Play around with these elements to find the most flattering setup for your subject.

Step 6: Guiding the Subject

Work closely with your subjects to guide them through poses and expressions. Your direction can make a big difference in making them look natural and confident in their photos.

Step 7: Post-production

Finally, post-production involves editing the photos to perfect the lighting, color balance, and other details. It’s also the stage where you can retouch any blemishes or distractions to ensure the final image is polished and professional.

Remember, the goal is to create a great headshot that encapsulates the subject’s professional identity. So, give these steps a go, and you’ll be well on your way to taking fantastic commercial headshots!

How to Pose for Commercial Headshots: 7 Pose Ideas

Posing for a commercial headshot requires a balance of professionalism and personality. The right pose can elevate your photograph, reflecting your individuality and enhancing your professional image. Here are seven pose ideas that can make your commercial headshot stand out:

  • The Classic Pose: Stand or sit straight, face the camera directly, and flash a natural smile. This traditional pose is timeless and effective, portraying you as approachable and confident.
  • The Over-the-Shoulder Look: This pose requires you to turn your body slightly away from the camera and then look back over your shoulder. It adds a touch of intrigue and depth to the photo.
  • The Thought-Provoking Pose: Look away from the camera as if lost deep in thought. This evocative pose can convey an image of wisdom and contemplation.
  • The ‘In Action’ Pose: Show yourself in the middle of an activity related to your profession. This could entail a chef chopping vegetables or a writer jotting down notes. The ‘in-action’ pose makes the headshot lively and authentic.
  • The Casual Lean: Lean casually against a wall or desk. This pose is relaxed yet professional, making you look comfortable in your workspace.
  • The Confident Cross-Arms Pose: Cross your arms over your chest and smile subtly. This pose radiates authority and confidence, portraying you as a leader.
  • The Prop Pose: Hold a prop related to your profession for a more personalized touch. This could be a laptop for a tech professional, a paintbrush for an artist, or a book for an academic.
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Where to Take Commercial Headshots?

The choice of location for your commercial headshot can significantly influence the overall feel and impact of the image. It can add depth to the shot and provide a valuable context that complements your profession.

Each location offers a unique aesthetic and ambiance that can be leveraged to highlight your personality and professional values. Here are seven ideal places to take commercial headshots:

  • Professional Studio: An indoor studio is a classic choice for commercial headshots, offering a controlled environment to manage lighting and background effectively.
  • Office Space: If you want to project a true sense of your working environment, your office or workspace can be a great option.
  • Outdoor Location: An outdoor location like a park or a cityscape can add a natural, vibrant backdrop to your headshot.
  • Industry-Specific Locations: For instance, a chef might choose a kitchen setting, or a carpenter might opt for a workshop, providing a hint about their profession.
  • Artistic Locations: If you’re in a creative field, consider an art gallery, a graffiti wall, or a colorful mural as your backdrop.
  • Academic Institutions: For those in the education field, a university campus or library can be an ideal location.
  • Home Office: In the era of remote work, a home office setting can make your headshot relatable and modern. Make sure this space is tidy and professional-looking.

What to Wear for Commercial Headshots?

Choosing the right attire for your commercial headshot is crucial as it can significantly influence the overall vibe of your image.

Your outfit should complement your professional role and personal style while ensuring you look polished and confident. Here are seven attire recommendations for your commercial headshot:

  • Classic Business Suit: A suit in neutral colors like black, navy, or grey exemplifies professionalism and sophistication — an ideal choice for corporate roles.
  • Casual Business Attire: Consider a button-down shirt or blouse for a less formal yet professional look. You can either wear it alone or pair it with a blazer.
  • Solid Colors: Opt for clothing in solid colors rather than patterns. Solid colors help keep the viewer’s attention on your face.
  • The Sweater Look: A well-fitted sweater can be a great choice, especially for creative or academic professions. It projects a warm, approachable image.
  • Formal Academic Robes: If you’re an educator or academic, donning your formal academic robe or dress can relay your professional identity effectively.
  • Professional Uniforms: If your profession has a uniform, like a chef’s coat or a doctor’s scrubs, wearing it can immediately communicate your role.
  • Industry-specific Attire: Opt for industry-specific attire if you’re in a unique profession. For example, an artist might choose a more eclectic outfit, while a tech professional might go casual with a branded t-shirt.
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Commercial Headshots Costs: How Much Do They Cost?

The cost of commercial headshots can vary significantly based on various factors. Let’s break down these costs to understand what you might expect to invest in this crucial aspect of your professional image.

  • Basic Studio Session: For a simple headshot session in a professional studio with one or two outfit changes, you can expect to pay around $100 to $200. This typically includes the photographer’s time, a predetermined number of retouched images, and digital copies of your photos.
  • On-Location Session: If you prefer a unique outdoor setting or want your headshot taken in your workspace, the cost can rise to anywhere between $200 and $400. This includes transportation costs and extra time for setup and breakdown.
  • Extended Studio Session: For a more comprehensive session with multiple outfit changes, background options, and additional retouched images, prices range from $500 to $1000.
  • Premium Session: If you’re looking for a top-tier photographer who specializes in commercial headshots and offers a full-service experience with professional hair and makeup, personal branding consultation, and a variety of shooting locations, you could be looking at an investment of $1000 to $2000 or more.

These prices are estimated averages, and actual costs may vary depending on the photographer’s experience, the market, and the specific details of your headshot session.

Always remember that investing in a high-quality, professional headshot invests in your personal brand and professional future.

Best AI Photographers for Commercial Headshots

Artificial Intelligence has revolutionized the field of photography, enabling the creation of professional-quality images with less effort and cost. Here, we’ll explore ten AI tools making waves in the industry for commercial headshots.

Secta AI

Secta AI is a groundbreaking tool that uses advanced AI technology to create stunning commercial headshots. It offers features like automatic background removal and professional retouching, making it a reliable business choice.


PFPMaker leverages AI to deliver professional-quality headshots. It offers various customization options, allowing you to create an image representing your professional persona.


AIrBrush is a popular AI tool offering various photo editing features. Its user-friendly interface and comprehensive editing options make it an excellent choice for commercial headshots. is an AI-based platform that excels in creating commercial headshots. It uses deep learning algorithms to enhance photos, providing a professional image.


Fotor is a comprehensive photo editing tool powered by AI technology. It offers a variety of features, including portrait retouching and HDR effects, making it ideal for creating impressive commercial headshots.


What is the Main Difference Between Theatrical and Commercial Headshots?

The main difference between theatrical and commercial headshots is the purpose they serve. Theatrical headshots are intended for actors who need to showcase their range of emotions and characters. In contrast, commercial headshots are primarily used for marketing and should project a professional yet approachable image.

Do I Need Professional Hair and Makeup for My Commercial Headshot?

While it’s not a necessity, professional hair and makeup can significantly enhance your headshot. Professional stylists know how to make you look your best on camera, helping you achieve the perfect look for your commercial headshot.

How Often Do I Need to Update My Commercial Headshots?

It’s recommended to update your commercial headshots every two to three years or when your appearance or brand changes significantly. This ensures that your headshot accurately represents your current professional image.

Wrapping Up

Mastering the art of commercial headshots requires a blend of technical know-how, style consciousness, and professional authenticity. When you strike a balance between these elements, you craft an image that captures your professional essence and resonates with your intended audience.

Remember, your headshot is often the first impression you make, so it’s imperative to get it right. Whether you’re utilizing the expertise of a professional photographer or exploring AI tools, ensure every detail aligns with your brand and reflects your professional persona.

Why not take the first step towards a more meaningful professional presence today? Investing in a high-quality commercial headshot could be the catalyst that propels your career to new heights. Contact a professional photographer or try out the AI tools mentioned above.

Strive for a headshot that opens doors and starts conversations. Make your first impression count!