Taking your own headshots at home

George Mason Statue

One of the realities of job searching in a digital age is the importance of having a professional presence online. With digital platforms such as LinkedIn becoming increasingly integrated into the way professionals network with each other, it is essential that you make a good impression when someone finds your profile.

This all starts with having a high quality, professional headshot. While you may not be a photographer yourself, or even have access to one, don’t miss out on the opportunity to make that great first impression. Here are some tips to help you take the best headshot possible at home.

When it comes to equipment, you do not need a studio or even an expensive camera to take high quality photos. A simple point-and-shoot or even your cell phone’s camera are capable of producing a high-quality image. If your phone is newer and you have access to a “portrait mode” then you can emulate the look of a DSLR or mirrorless camera fairly well. The only other thing you will need is some way to set up your camera and take your headshot. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tripod or simply grabbing a friend to snap the picture—you could even stack up some books and use the self-timer on your phone- the important thing is that we avoid taking a “selfie” while wearing professional attire and calling it a headshot.

Once you have grabbed your camera of choice and sorted out how you are setting it up, it’s time to start thinking about the things that will make or break your headshot. I’m going to call them The 3 L’s: Lighting, Location, and Look.

The single most important part of taking a quality photo is the lighting in the frame. You want to make sure there is enough light to adequately light your face without the light being harsh and overbearing. We are looking for soft light that falls evenly across the face and does not create any weird or unflattering shadows.

One great way to do this is to be near a window. Placing yourself next to or in front of a window will allow you to use the natural light from the sun without it directly hitting your face, often times creating the “soft light” look that was mentioned previously. If you must take your headshot outside, opt for areas that are shaded and avoid having direct sunlight on your face. Direct sunlight is harsh and often produces awful shadows, not to mention that looking toward the sun will have you squinting to shield your eyes.

Once you have found some nice light, it’s time to check your background. Since this is a photo for professional use, you want your background to reflect that. A clean, uncluttered background that is free from distractions is going to be ideal. Inside—try to utilize a blank, neutral colored wall. Outside—finding a brick or concrete exterior would be preferred, but at the very least make sure that your background is as free from distractions as possible. The idea here is to highlight you and present yourself in a professional manner.


With your location and light figured out, you can start focusing on your look. Put on your best professional attire and step in front of the camera. Keep your posing simple: face directly into the camera or turn your body 45 degrees to one side with your head turned to the camera. You can keep your arms neutral at your sides or crossed in front you—whatever is most comfortable. Whether you are smiling or straight-faced is entirely up to you.


With these things in mind, you’re prepared to take your own high-quality headshot to show off on your LinkedIn profile. These tips will ensure you’re making the best first impression possible when connecting with professionals and networking in the digital space. If you’d like to know more about what you can do to improve your LinkedIn and how to best utilize the platform to help your networking efforts, contact our office to set up an appointment with a member of the Career Services team.