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8 Tips for Taking a Great Headshot Yourself

Professional headshot photoshoots can be expensive. But you can do them simply with your phone from the comfort of your space using our top tips from professionals

A man in a grey suit giving a big smile for a professional headshot
A man in a grey suit giving a big smile for a professional headshot

Have you ever considered how easily visual content has taken over written content? That's because every visual, every picture, tells a story of its own. And these days, it is the narrative or the story that interests people. It's the same case with a professional headshot, whether it's done with a DSLR by a professional photographer or in a DIY setup. 

The important part is that the picture should speak some originality and have some essence of its own. It should reflect your personality and confidence. There is a massive stereotype around the fact that only with professionals we can have good pictures. That's not true, especially in the digital age we are in today. Even smartphones have such good camera quality, and the editing and style apps and software are just the cherry on the cake. 

However, some techniques must be known to get the desired results in a DIY setup for a good professional headshot. So, that's what we will learn and explore in this article. 

Take that phone in your hand and try a dry run with all you read here. Well, you might get your perfect professional headshot while reading this blog. 

Let's get shooting!

DIY Headshots vs. Professional Headshots

A studio setup for a professional photoshoot of a man

First things first. Let's understand some fundamental differences between the “classic” professionally done headshots and the “modern choice,” DIY headshots to know the proper technicalities. 

DIY photography simply refers to getting your hands on your phone's camera and watching a couple of YouTube videos on how to do this and that, then begin the process of shooting a professional headshot. While reading this, some of you might think it is a piece of cake or a kiddish thing, but mind you, DIY iPhone shots have been on the cover pages of famous magazines. 

Everyone knows about professional headshots and it's very clear from the name itself. Here, the professionals themselves do the photography, applying professional techniques to cater to perfection at every shot. 

But hey! Perfection has its price. Either do it by yourself or pay a handsome price. 

Professional headshots taken by professionals are great, but they have price charts and can’t be done on a shoestring budget. Thus, it motivates some people to take the expense, and that's when a DIY photoshoot comes to the rescue. 

Pros and Cons of DIY Headshots

A guy clicking a girl's picture in a field of lavendar flowers

Economical option 

Of course, everyone knows it. DIY headshots are budget-friendly as there is not much equipment required and all the things can be managed on a low budget. 

The equipment here is your smartphone, maybe a ring light (no problem if you don’t have one, natural light can do wonders) and some chart papers or a plain bedsheet to be used as a background. 

On the other hand, you have to spend a fortune to get a professional shoot done, But, it comes with its own perks, you don’t have to manage anything or arrange stuff.

Limitations and challenges of DIY photoshoot. 

  • The calibre and proficiency of seasoned photographers can help you get that great professional headshot that you have imagined. You gain access to a wealth of knowledge and abilities by choosing a professional headshot over a DIY headshot. Expert photographers profoundly understand lighting subtleties, composition strategies, and posing tactics that enhance your photos. You can be confident that, under their direction, your headshots will radiate professionalism, grab attention, and make a great impression.

  • Expert headshots affect your personal and professional brand. Professional headshots significantly impact how others view you personally and professionally. By visually representing your brand, they communicate attributes like expertise, confidence, and approachability. Purchasing high-quality headshots is a proactive way to demonstrate your dedication to professionalism and excellence.

  • Juggling the price and time needed for expert headshots. It's critical to recognize that purchasing a professional headshot requires money. But this expenditure is insignificant compared to the priceless influence they can have on your career and personal development. Although scheduling a session with a professional photographer could take some planning, the outcomes are well worth the wait. After all, in today's cut-throat environment, the assurance and legitimacy of your professional headshot are invaluable assets.

So, just keep reading and learn the tips to beat a professional headshot by capturing the perfect DIY headshot. Or, we can just skip all of it at once and head to InstaHeadshots to get your professional standard headshots without spending a fortune. And yes, you can do that from the comfort of your home. You just have to upload a few random selfies and wait for our artificial intelligence to do its thing and get you your professional headshots. 

8 Tips to Take a Perfect DIY Headshot

Tip 1: Finding the Perfect Lighting

A woman for a professional headshot in outdoor lighting

The best light is thought to be diffused or has a scattering effect from natural sunshine. However, that does not imply that you will snap a photo with the sun directly in your face. Everything looks impressive for casual social media posts but not for official headshots.

Find a location where the surface receives a good amount of light, then just stand near it and don’t face it directly. However, if the light directly strikes you, reverse that action or take a small step back. If it still appears sun-kissed or sun-throbbed, my dear, wait for the ideal moment until the light fades slightly into the twilight glow.

And the moment, you feel everything is in place; Just Click! 

Tip 2: Choosing a Simple Background

A woman posing for a headshot in front of a white background

Firstly, the background should be clean and tidy with no clutter. No furniture, photo frames, decor, or other items should be taken in the frame of your picture. The more precise, the better. Secondly, the background color should complement your outfit and your overall look. 

Also, the background color should not be very bright or catch the eye more than the subject, i.e., YOU. The light and everything else should be perfect and balanced to understand the contrast between the subject and the background. 

Tip 3: Picking the Right Outfit

A woman dressed classy in white and black posing for a professional photo

The outfit you wear and the way you style yourself are crucial. Not evaluating the right fit is one of the most common mistakes people make. Some standard checks to run before finalizing the clothes should be the fitting, pattern, or styling. Mistakes can destroy the mood and the headshot, so everything must go flawlessly on your headshot day.

To avoid any disappointment:

  • Try on all your perfect-fitting formals, suits, or anything else that gives you confidence, and then decide what suits you the best.

  • Try a variety of accessories to improve your overall appearance.

  • Check the fittings beforehand in case there are any fitting-related problems.

  • Avoid selecting colors that blend in with the background or are very elaborate.

  • On the day of the session, try on various outfits to see what fits your personality and style. Make a ton of looks. Learn what hues work best for your skin tone.

  • Analyze the fashion choices made by well-known figures in your business. That could help your headshot look more distinctive.

  • Avoid a hairstyle that completely clashes with the ensemble. 

Be clear. Be tidy. Be elegant. 

Tip 4: Keeping Natural Makeup

A woman smiling looking into the camera for a photo

Less is more when it comes to doing makeup for your professional headshot session. Try the “No Make-up Look” or do something subtle and clean: no gaudy lip shades, eyeshadow, gels, or too much tint. However, make extra plans for the days leading up to your shoot and focus on your skincare. Prevent dullness or outbreaks of acne brought on by pollution exposure. The mark may be covered with makeup, but applying too much would make it look unflattering. 

But yes, keep doing little touch-ups between the shots, as you do all the work yourself. This is A DIY professional shoot. Adjusting the camera multiple times and managing several other things might make you look tired in between, so keep a check that everything is alright. 

Tip 5: Doing Essential Grooming

Good sleep is essential for mental and physical wellbeing

Essential grooming techniques can transform anyone into a Glam. 

Here are the essential things to take care of:

  • Sleep Well: The first step of grooming is to get a good night's sleep. Although makeup can cover up those dark circles, it's preferable if they don't exist at all. Just rest, allow your body to unwind, and let your thoughts settle. Do you still have that smiley photo of you from your childhood? It feels revitalising to see it, right? Yes, without enough sleep, it is not possible to look as hydrated and happy as you were then. So, get a good night's sleep. 

  • Hair care: Check that all hair strands point in the same direction and they don’t get frizzy overall. You can use hairspray to smooth them out but avoid using too much since this will make your hair appear thin. In addition, your hair may seem coarse and sticky and lose volume. Take your spray and lightly mist it on top of the hairbrush before brushing your hair. Keep an eye out for frizzy hair in between the shots as well.

  • Look for Glow: Occasionally, the flashing lights might cause dark areas or acne scars to glow differently, giving the face a lifeless, colorless appearance. Not applying enough lotion before the shoot will cause your makeup or marks to appear differently in the photo if you have dry skin. 

Tip 6: Focusing on Poses and Expressions

A woman dressed in red dress posing for a picture


Your smile and self-assurance are your means of expression. Your facial expressions enhance your beauty and self-assurance. Try a variety of expressions, some without a grin and some that require exposing your teeth. You'll be able to determine which is better. Your smile and confidence are the best things you can wear to shine, so go ahead with that.


There is no proven formula for posing. Posing it's all about experiments. Your pose should reflect your vibe.

  • Straight Pose: Face the camera directly with your shoulders squared. This classic role is a great way to convey confidence and warmth.

  • 3/4 Turn Pose: Slant your body slightly from the camera and turn your face towards it. This posture provides dimension and may have a slimming impact.

  • Profile Pose: Face the camera with your body turned sideways to flaunt your profile. This position can be particularly alluring for side profiles since it highlights your features from a unique angle.

  • Smile Pose: Don't forget to grin! A genuine smile instantly brightens your photos and gives them a cozy and pleasant vibe.

  • Natural Movement Pose: Add little movements, like walking or adjusting your hair, to make your poses more attractive. As a result, the image appears more authentic and has more vitality and spontaneity.

Tip 7: Use Your Camera Correctly (Or Get Help)

A woman talking to another woman with interest

The viewpoint of the camera should always be correct. It should always point towards you in the middle of the frame. You might want to take somebody’s help to get that correct and place the camera correctly. 

The angle of the camera and basic camera settings before starting to shoot are the most important things while capturing a DIY headshot. A slight adjustment here and there has the power to make or ruin it.  

Don't change the settings much if you don't know all the features. First, use it with the same settings and then consider adjusting them according to the requirement. 

Tip 8: Doing Basic Editing

Apps for editing images open on a laptop

Just do basic editing after capturing your DIY headshots to give them that professional touch. Play with settings like light exposure, hue, brightness, contrast or filters. Filters look very bad and unprofessional for professional headshots, so avoid them. 

Yes, pictures need editing, but to a limit where even tone and glare adjustment is considered. And not changing your skin tone or beautifying it unnecessarily. Keep in mind that this is a professional headshot. This means people will create an image in their head seeing this. So, the image must align with the real one. 

Over to You

That was a long list! But it was to make your DIY headshot session successful and for you to get a perfect professional-looking headshot. 

Well, long lists often need revision. Let's revise it a little faster.

Chase the light>Get the Right Outfit>A Little Grooming>Go Natural>Some Camera Settings>A Pinch of Editing. And, your perfect DIY headshot is ready! 

Of course, it's not as easy as it looks, but with proper effort and planning, it's not even that big a deal. These tips can help you get what you want. So, what are you waiting for now?

Get that phone, open that closed window, and capture your professional headshot right now.