How to Take Fantastic Executive Headshots in 2023: Simple Hacks

Are you ready to take your executive headshots to the next level in 2023? With the ever-shifting world of technology, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed as an executive when embracing something like improving your visual presence.

You may not know where to start or how much time and money should be invested – but we’re here with tips explicitly tailored for executives who are busy hustling yet still want a smooth process that yields stunning results.

Now is the perfect time to upgrade your headshots, so read on for best practices when taking fantastic executive headshots!

Executive Headshot: What is it?

An executive headshot is more than just a picture—it’s your professional handshake in the digital world. It’s your first impression of potential clients, investors, or employers who see you online before meeting you in person.

A high-quality, professional-looking headshot can position you as a serious executive and set the tone for the relationships you cultivate. Your executive headshot is your visual brand identity, embodying your professionalism, competence, and unique character.

So, let’s dive into how you can capture that perfect shot that reflects who you are as an executive.

What are the Types of Executive Headshots?

While there are several types of headshots, four main categories are commonly used in the executive world. These include Corporate, Theatrical, Commercial, and Editorial headshots, each with its unique visual tone and purpose.

  • Corporate Headshots: These are your traditional go-to choice for an executive. It’s all about showcasing you in a professional setting, often in your work environment or against a neutral background. Think of a LinkedIn profile picture where you’re dressed in your finest business attire, exhibiting an air of authority, competence, and confidence.
  • Theatrical Headshots: These headshots are more about capturing your personality. While not as typical in the corporate world, they can be a fantastic way to showcase your unique character traits and personal brand. For instance, if you’re a creative director, a theatrical headshot can show your artistic side, making you more relatable to your team and clients.
  • Commercial Headshots: These headshots lean more toward the marketing side. You might use these headshots for promotional materials, like brochures or billboards. They are typically more relaxed and approachable, showing you with a warm, inviting smile, signaling that you’re not just a business-minded executive but also approachable and easy to work with.
  • Editorial Headshots: These are often used in magazine features or press releases where the image is accompanied by a story or an article about you. The shot is more candid, often captured in a ‘moment’ rather than a staged setting. For example, if you’re speaking at a conference, an editorial headshot might capture you mid-speech, showcasing your passion and engagement.

Why Are Headshots Important for Executives?

Headshots are vital in the corporate world, especially for executives who must portray a professional image and establish credibility. Here are six reasons why headshots are crucial for executives:

  • First Impressions: As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In the digital age, your headshot often serves as the initial point of contact. A professionally taken headshot conveys quality and dedication to your role, laying the groundwork for a positive first impression.
  • Branding: A good headshot reflects your personal brand, aligning with the image you want to portray in your professional capacity. It can communicate your values, professional style, and even aspects of your personality, thus reinforcing your personal brand.
  • Credibility: A professionally taken headshot can signal credibility and reliability. It shows that you take your role seriously, enhancing clients’ or colleagues’ confidence in your abilities.
  • Networking: Particularly on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, a quality headshot can make your profile more appealing to others in your industry, potentially leading to valuable connections and opportunities.
  • Consistency: Using the same high-quality headshot across all your professional platforms (LinkedIn, your company website, guest blog posts, etc.) helps maintain consistency, reinforcing your professional image.
  • Professionalism: Lastly, having a professional headshot signals your professional status. It instills a sense of trust in your professional capabilities, demonstrating to others that you’re serious about your role as an executive.
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How to Take the Best Executive Headshots: The Step-by-step Process

Before we delve into the step-by-step process, it’s essential to understand that taking an executive headshot is more than just a quick camera click. It involves careful planning, thoughtful execution, and a keen eye for detail.

A good headshot culminates various elements – from lighting and composition to attire and expression. So, let’s break down those steps to help you achieve an executive headshot that truly reflects your professional persona.

Preparing For Your Headshot Session:

Before you step in front of the camera, there are several things you need to consider. A successful headshot session begins with proper preparation, and here’s how:

  • Identify Your Brand: Understand what your personal brand is and what message you want to communicate with your headshot.
  • Choose the Right Photographer: Look for a professional photographer who specializes in executive headshots and has a portfolio you like.
  • Dress Appropriately: Business attire is typically best, but ensure your wear aligns with your brand image.
  • Consider Makeup and Hair: Professionals often recommend light makeup and a natural hairstyle for headshots. However, always go with what makes you feel confident and authentic.
  • Rest Well: Ensure you get a good night’s sleep before the photo session to look fresh and energetic.

During the Headshot Session:

The day has arrived, and it’s time to put all that preparation into action! Here’s what you need to know:

  • Be Timely: Arrive at the session on time to prevent rushing and unnecessary stress.
  • Communicate with Your Photographer: Discuss your brand and the message you want to convey to your photographer.
  • Relax: It’s vital to stay relaxed during the session. A tense expression can ruin a good headshot.
  • Try Different Poses: Experiment with different poses and expressions to capture various images.
  • Review the Shots: During the session, review the shots and ensure you’re satisfied.

Post-Headshot Session:

The photo session might be over, but work must be done! Here’s what should happen next:

  • Review and Select Your Images: Go through the images with your photographer as soon as possible and select your favorites.
  • Post-Processing: Your photographer will likely retouch the photos lightly to enhance the final result.
  • Receive and Save Your Images: Once the final images are ready, receive them from the photographer and save them in a safe place.
  • Use Your Headshots: Update them on all professional platforms and anywhere else.
  • Plan for Future Sessions: Finally, remember that headshots should be updated every couple of years, so plan for the next session!
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These steps will ensure that your headshot session succeeds and that you’re left with an executive headshot representing your brand, character, and professionalism.

How to Pose for Executive Headshots

Posing plays a pivotal role in conveying your professional persona through executive headshots. No one-size-fits-all pose will work for everyone, as each individual brings uniqueness to the frame. However, some tried-and-tested poses tend to work well in a professional context. Let’s explore five of them:

  • The Classic Head-and-Shoulders: This is the traditional go-to pose for many executives. It centers attention on your face and expression. This pose can be formal and approachable, with the option to face directly into the camera or at a slight angle.
  • The Confident Stance: Stand tall, pull your shoulders back, and face the camera head-on. This pose emanates confidence and leadership. A slight tilt of the head adds a welcoming touch to this strong stance.
  • The Thoughtful Gaze: Looking away from the camera as if in deep thought can give executive headshots a more candid feel. This pose suggests a strategic, forward-thinking mindset.
  • The Power Seat: Sitting poses can be pretty powerful. Try sitting at the edge of a chair, leaning slightly forward, with your hands either on your knees or clasped together. This pose conveys a sense of authority and control.
  • The Approachable Smile: A relaxed, genuine smile can make a difference in a headshot. This pose is ideal to portray a friendly, approachable vibe alongside your professional persona.

Where to Take Executive Headshots?

Choosing the right location for your executive headshots can significantly impact the ambiance and overall effectiveness of the image. The ideal place should resonate with your professional persona and the values you wish to project. Here are six optimal locations to consider for your executive headshots:

  • Your Office: An office setting can highlight your work environment and provide context about your industry. It gives a sense of authenticity and connection to your professional life.
  • A Conference Room: A conference room can serve as an excellent backdrop for a more formal and business-like headshot. It can also subtly hint at leadership and decision-making roles.
  • A Library or Study Room: This setting can be pretty effective if you’d like to project a scholarly or intellectual image. Rows of books can denote knowledge and wisdom.
  • An Outdoor Location: An outdoor location, such as a park or a cityscape, can add a refreshing touch to your executive headshots. It can also convey openness and a connection to the community or environment.
  • A Studio: A professional studio is an excellent choice for a clean, distraction-free backdrop. It offers controlled lighting and lets the photographer focus solely on your pose and expression.
  • Industrial Locations: Industrial settings such as a warehouse or a construction site can be ideal if you’re in fields like real estate, architecture, or engineering, as it can give your headshots a rugged, hands-on appeal.

What to Wear for Executive Headshots?

Choosing the right outfit for your executive headshots can significantly influence the image you project. It’s essential to pick attire that aligns with your professional persona and the message you want to convey. Let’s delve into five suitable dress options that can help you make a powerful impression:

  • The Classic Suit: A well-tailored suit in a neutral color like black, navy, or grey exudes professionalism and authority. Pair it with a crisp, light-colored shirt for a polished look.
  • Business Casual: Consider business casual if your industry leans towards a less formal dress code. A button-down shirt or blouse, paired with smart trousers or a skirt, can give you a professional yet approachable look.
  • The Blazer Combo: Pairing a blazer with a contrasting shirt or blouse can create a dynamic but professional image. This option allows you to play with color while retaining a business-like appearance.
  • The Sophisticated Dress: For women, a sophisticated dress in a solid, muted color can be a stylish choice. Ensure the dress is modest, not too flashy, and reflects your professional personality.
  • The Clean Sweater Look: A clean, well-fitted sweater or roll-neck can be a great choice, particularly for creative or tech industries. Pair it with smart trousers for a modern, professional look.
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Executive Headshots Costs: How Much Do They Cost?

The cost of executive headshots can vary widely based on a range of factors, such as the photographer’s expertise, the duration of the session, the number of edited photos you require, and the location of the shoot. However, to give you a basic idea, we have split the costs into three categories:

  • The Economical Option: This might be your best option if you’re on a tight budget or just starting your career. Photo sessions in this range typically cost between $100 and $200. These sessions may be shorter, and the number of edited images might be limited. Remember, though, you often get what you pay for in terms of quality.
  • The Mid-Range Option: The most common price range is between $200 and $500. Photographers offering services in this price bracket will likely have more experience and offer more edited images. They may also offer more flexibility in terms of locations and poses.
  • The Premium Option: If you’re looking for a top-tier experience with a seasoned professional and don’t mind paying for it, this could be your option. Premium headshot sessions typically cost around $500 and can go up to the thousands. What do you get for the price? Usually, these photographers offer a comprehensive service, including wardrobe consultation, professional makeup and hair styling, multiple locations, and many high-end retouched images.

Best AI Photographers for Executive Headshots

In today’s digital world, artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing many industries, including photography. AI tools can now capture, edit, and enhance professional images, making executive headshot photography more accessible and affordable.

Here are five noteworthy AI tools for taking executive headshots:

ProPhotos AI

ProPhotos AI is an advanced tool that uses AI algorithms to adjust lighting, enhance quality, and edit photos automatically.

Aragon AI

Aragon AI offers a unique blend of AI and machine learning, providing high-quality executive headshots with a touch of professionalism.

HeadShot Pro

HeadShot Pro is renowned for its AI-powered image editing features, which allow users to generate professional headshots effortlessly.

ProfilePicture AI

ProfilePicture AI specializes in creating professional executive headshots and pictures. Its AI technology allows it to suggest improvements and edit images for optimal results.


StudioShot utilizes AI to offer a range of photo editing tools to produce high-quality executive headshots. It’s a strong contender among the AI tools available.


What Should I Wear for a Casual Executive Headshot?

For casual executive headshots, you can opt for business casual attire. This could be a button-down shirt or blouse paired with smart trousers or a skirt. The key is to appear professional yet approachable.

How Long is a Typical Executive Headshot Session?

The duration of an executive headshot session can vary based on several factors. However, most sessions last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. This includes time for outfit changes, different poses, and brief breaks.

Can I Use AI Tools for My Executive Headshots?

Yes, AI tools can be highly beneficial for taking executive headshots. They can adjust lighting, enhance photo quality, and provide editing features to generate professional-looking images. Examples of AI tools include ProPhotos AI, Aragon AI, and HeadShot Pro.

Wrapping Up

Mastering the art of executive headshots is an investment in your professional image and personal brand. It requires a harmonious blend of the proper attire, optimal location, experienced photographer, or innovative AI tools, all tailored to encapsulate your corporate persona.

Whether you opt for a classic suit or a business casual look, remember that your attire should enhance your authenticity and align with your industry’s expectations. Investing in a professional or AI-powered photoshoot ensures high-quality images and provides expert guidance on poses, lighting, and editing to ensure optimal results.

Now, it’s time for action – take the insights from this guide and use them to create executive headshots that make a compelling statement about your professionalism.

Whether you’re updating your LinkedIn profile, preparing for a press release, or building your portfolio, make sure your headshot stands out.