How to Take a Professional Headshot of Yourself

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DIY headshots

It’s that dreaded time of your career where you need to update your headshot. You may be wondering how to take a professional headshot of yourself to save time and money.

A professional headshot should be one of your top priorities when applying for a new job. Your headshot not only gives potential employers an idea about you and who you are but also can set the right tone to make them keep reading about your background and why they should hire you.

Many of us do not like taking photos of ourselves, so this article will give you all the tips and tricks to make sure you get the best DIY professional headshot for your next career move.

How to take a professional headshot with your phone

So let’s get started with the basics. Typically if you are going to take your own headshot, you will want to take it with your smartphone. Not everyone has access to a DSLR, and phone cameras can provide easy camera settings and access to a self-timer. Here are the steps to set up your camera phone and get started.

How to Take a Professional Headshot with your smartphone

1. First off, you should have a tripod to set your smartphone on. You may want to jump into selfie mode and hold your own phone, but if you really want professional photography style images, you must go the extra mile to set up a tripod that you can find cheaply for your phone online. Make sure to place your phone at eye level. Lastly, only frame yourself from.

2. Next, find a blank wall to shoot in front of. The main attraction should be your face, not the background. So if you have any white or plain walls in your home, aim your camera at. Location is key obviously so really choose carefully so that you will have the perfect place to stand.

3. Then recruit a friend or family member to help you take the photos. You can also set the self-timer but having a friend or family member pushing the button is faster than waiting 3 seconds between shots and trying different poses.

How to take a professional photo indoors at home

Most people will probably be shooting their headshots indoors. We highly recommend investing in a ring light if this is the case. There are some great advantages to working with a ring light, including the fact that they usually come with a tripod and clip to attach your phone easily.

ring light for headshots

Also, they provide pro lighting for your camera that will make your profile photos look professionally shot and natural. Even more, you do not want to use your iPhone or another smartphone flash. These flashes are pretty much mini flashlights, and do you remember what you look like with a flashlight shining in your face as a kid? Think ghost stories! Not flattering!

Using a professional lighting setup such as a softbox or ring light also helps to remove shadows on your face and helps your iPhone focus easier. Whether you use a ring light or not, you will want to stay away from bright light and direct sunlight that may be entering from a window. If you want the most flattering portrait images, these things are key to remember.

How to take your own professional headshot outdoors

If you prefer natural light, you may want to consider shooting outdoors. Take your camera outside and set it up on a tripod, just like you did indoors. However, just like when you were shooting indoors, you will want to avoid harsh direct sunlight.

Instead, look for a shaded area where the lighting is even for a better portrait. You will want to stand in the shade with no harsh light behind you. Also, look for a plain background such as greenery or an outdoor wall. Space should not be distracting and create a neutral flattering backdrop free of distraction. A little natural light behind you is great! You don’t want any crazy sun rays coming out from behind because your camera will darken your face.

outdoor headshot

Should you smile in a professional headshot?

When it comes to taking a headshot, consider trying many different expressions. Most of the time, a good headshot includes someone smiling. The smile can vary a lot, and it’s also a good time to have a friend tell a joke to make your life in a natural way.

You may also consider thinking of something that makes you happy so that it shows on your face. Lastly, try some neutral expressions to see if you like that look better. Always remember to adjust your camera and lighting settings to create a flattering look for your smile. Shadows and bad focus can ruin the look on your face.

headshot with iphone

What is the best thing to wear for a headshot?

So now that you know the basics of how to set up your camera and pose, you may be wondering what the heck do I wear?! Consider these tips.

  • Choose a solid color. You don’t want any flashy patterns or bold prints distracting from your face and demeanor.
  • Don’t apply too much makeup or jewelry.
  • Since this is a DIY shoot, you can try on many different outfits. Take some time the night before to decide which clothes fit you best and what hairstyle you want to use.
  • Depending on if the headshot is for a job or social media, you may want a more casual or business casual look. Many of my clients bring a sports jacket to throw over a cute dress or a more relaxed collard shirt. That way, you can take the jacket off for casual headshots.
  • Think about the backdrop or wall you will use before choosing what to wear. Will the color blend too much with your clothes?
  • Stay away from bright colors if you want to use them for job headshots. If it’s more for social media, feel free to go more eccentric and out of the box for every portrait.

How to pose for a good headshot

So now, what may be the hardest part of taking a professional headshot. How to pose. Here are my top tips to make your poses look great in natural light or artificial light.


  • Stand up straight. This especially goes for you ladies! We tend to lean forward a bit more with our shoulders than men.
  • Aim your iPhone or smartphone directly at eye level and look at the camera part of your phone, not the back or around it.
  • Position yourself a bit sideways. Your feet should turn at an angle with your shoulders, and your eyes and head should turn slightly sideways as well. Turn your head as well.
  • Try different angles until you find the most flattering position. Take a lot of shots so you can choose your favorites. This is why it’s so helpful to have a friend taking the headshot for you.
  • Keep your hands to the side or fold them in front of you. Try a few different positions with your hands to be sure.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep them in a neutral position.
  • Take many different photos while moving your lights and body.
  • Change your expression to find the one that works best for you. Try some smiling and not smiling.
  • Practice in the mirror the day before to gain some ideas about how you will look on camera.


  • Do not face the camera head-on because this will make you look larger than you actually are.
  • Don’t stare into the lights, whether they are natural or from a ring light. This can cause you to squint in pictures.
  • Don’t try a new hairstyle or haircut the same day as using your camera. You may not like the new style, and you won’t feel confident when posing.
  • Don’t give yourself a double chin by keeping your head too far down. Instead, look a little up for the perfect headshot portrait.

Posing Examples

Have a closer look at each image to come up some ideas for your own headshots.

how to pose for a headshot
Place your hand close to your face for a different look.
natural headshots
Have a friend make you laugh for a natural shot.
posing tips for headshots

The Best App to use for professional headshots

Several photo editing apps will make your life a lot easier when editing your professional headshots. Here are our top favorites that even a professional photographer may use.


The Snapseed provides a multitude of editing ideas for after your shoot. Using a few simple clicks, you can whiten your teeth or smooth your skin. It also allows you to brighten your eyes or adjust the lighting if you didn’t get it right in the camera.


VSCO gives you some of the best lighting adjustments. When choosing which lighting to adjust for your headshots, focus on exposure, white balance, highlights, and shadows. Lastly, use this app to make a proper crop for your headshots. You will want to cut from your chest to just above your head, so your face takes up most of the image.


AirBrush helps you quickly remove pimples and smooth away wrinkles. If you suffer from redness or other skin coloring issues, this app is perfect for touching those issues. If you are searching for professional photographer results, it’s here.

apps to edit your headshot

Where should you use your new headshot?

Now that you have beautiful photos, you need to decide where to use them. There are many options to get your face out to the world, but here are our favorites.

  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • The bio on your website
  • Email signature
  • Dating Apps
  • Presentation cover photos


We hope you enjoyed this article on how to take your own headshots. Every photographer has their own style, but the most important thing is that you follow our tips from above to save yourself from more editing after. Lastly, remember to get a good night’s sleep before your shoot. Your expression will share how you are feeling at that moment, and you want to feel good so that you can look good!

creative headshot ideas

Want More?

Lastly, our very own Taya Iv has created an online self-portrait photography course to help you better your photography skills if you want to take your pictures to the next level and learn more about background options, image editing, light, and how to take the perfect headshots then signup today! The course is designed to be budget-friendly, so if money is tight while looking for a job, this is the perfect course to help you take gorgeous photos without spending a ton of money.

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Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.
Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.

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  1. I like how you mentioned when applying for a new job, a professional headshot should be one of your top considerations. When I was in college I think about it differently, there is really numerous information in this article that helps me. I’m grateful for your advice about headshot photography.

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