Current Business Headshot Trends


More and more executives prefer their business headshots to look like model headshots

Business Headshot Trends

I’ve been shooting business headshot is Pittsburgh for many years now and I’m seeing some interesting new trends.

The Old Style

For years not, the standard business headshot consisted on a canvas mottled grey background with the lighting to give a light to dark, circular graduation around the subject.  If not this background, some executives would want their photo taken on either a solid white or possibly a medium grey paper background.  This was the standard for as long as I can remember, even back in the film days.

typical studio business headshot

Typical “old style” background. Some people still love it!

Don’t’ get me wrong, there are still many clients that prefer this look and want all their employee portraits taken with this same background and feel.  I don’t have a problem with this type of photo and in fact, I have a portrait setup always ready to go, where I can just turn on the power pack and start to shoot headshots.  It’s still a standard and probably will be for years to come.

The Environmental Headshot

Where I’m seeing the headshot business go though, is to environmental headshots, photographed in the offices, or at a nearby location that somehow pertains to the company.  Often times, the shots are taken in the lobby of the corporate headquarters on possibly in the largest conference room available.  Clients like to include a company logo if possible but this is not the kind of shot I prefer.

What I prefer to do is to find a background that isn’t too distracting, but yet very interesting.  I can usually achieve this look by scouting around and looking for shapes and colors that will look good when thorn out of focus.  That’s the key, to make the background soft focus enough to look “cool”.  And there is a skill in selecting the background.  Just any background will not due.  It has to have certain characteristic to really work well.

The first thing is that you have to look out for lines and shapes that will intersect with the clients head and create awkward or distracting compositions.  The second challenge is to find areas of interest and areas that are not too busy.  The not too busy areas are the place where the head will overlap.

Some clients think that their offices will not work because nothing appears to be interesting, and some of them are correct.  I always like to check out the location though, because what I see and they see are often times two very different things.  Non-headshot photographers have a hard time imagining things out of focus, whereas I can usually see potential almost everywhere.

Location executive headshot

This type of executive headshot is becoming more popular

More like models

There are times when I get headshot requests where the subject really doesn’t have a location in which we can shoot.  They usually want to come to my studio and my studio looks nothing like an office.  In these cases, what I like to do is create an environment using theater flats and painted backgrounds.  By doing this, I can make backgrounds look a little like a “real environment”, without making it too distracting.  It’s actually what I’ve been doing for actors and models for years now.  But it’s just recently that clients are liking the look for business and executive headshots.  It’s really a great look.

I have many different background colors.  The flats and backgrounds can be mixed and matched to create some interesting effects, but I usually prefer to make the foreground and background the same color to give a monochrome effect.  I think that by doing that, the businessman’s face tends to “jump out” of the background.

Sign Up for my Newsletter!

Get headshot photography tips, news and more.

* indicates required