How to Prepare for a Corporate Headshot Photo Session

Corporate team headshot day

How do you prepare or decide the style for your corporate or professional headshot sessions?

Art of Headshots is often hired by corporations of 50 plus headshots, our clients have a lot of questions regarding style, lighting and choices. This article should help you understand different types of lighting, styles to help you decide what fits for your corporate branding. We will answer common questions asked by first-time corporate customers. Another benefit of this article is to provide professional advice and discredit a lot of the bad advice written by bloggers who don’t provide headshots for a living but are making up assumptions regarding this profession…

The following are answers to the most common questions;
1) What type of headshot should we choose
2) what should we wear
3) makeup or no makeup
4) should I wear glasses
5) type of poses
6) are there negative effects of having headshots of our team?

What type of headshot lighting should we choose?

While there are a lot of different lighting styles I’d like to simplify by showing three sample of the most common type of lighting and discuss the pros and cons of using the most common style of headshot photography nicknamed Cinematic Style, Hollywood lighting and Rembrandt;

Cinematic Style

Cinematic style is one of the most popular for companies wanting to show a progressive approach but requires a few items to be successfully photographed.

The photographer will photograph each participant at a low depth of field making the background blurry and emphasizing on the individual being photographed.

1) if you like this style ( see sample ) then, it probably is the most appealing.
2) People stand out due to the selective focus.
3) It’s colourful and seems more modern.

1) Not all photographers can and know how to accomplish this style and at times they may miss the focal point due to wrong equipment. At Art of Headshots, we use a camera and lens specific to accomplish this effect.
2) Images are not consistent as the daylight changes throughout the day ( varying colours)
3) Need to have the right space to accomplish this effect. If indoors it must be a very large space or outdoor with enough distance between the people being photographed and the background.

Hollywood lighting

Hollywood lighting is the most common type of headshot for large corporations. Soft lighting to minimize the so-called facial flaws.

1) Replicatable and measurably correct – it works.
2) When hiring a talented photographer the person’s expression and interaction during the session could make this a wonderful portrait.
3) Excellent for large teams to photograph one person after the other.

1) No creative backdrop.
2) Can not be performed by an amateur due to lighting and equipment needs to accomplish a professional capture and finish.

Rembrandt Lighting

When one thinks of traditional portraits a Rembrandt painting is the first illustration that will pop up on your mind whether you know it or not. The person being photographed will usually have a shadow to half of his or her face.

1) If this is your favourite style then its the best looking portrait.
2) Traditional, emotional and expressive.
3) Makes a statement about your team and or individual brand.

1) Too transparent. May enhance wrinkles, deep shadow’s will show wrinkles.
2) It’s not fake or cosmetic.
3) Old fashion.

Personally, I don’t have a preference for the style and recommend you the individual or your corporation to look at all three styles photographed and decide for yourselves. It’s like picking an Andy Warhol ( Cinematic Lighting ), a Picasso ( Hollywood Lighting ) or a Rembrandt Painting ( Rembrandt Lighting ) – who is to say one is better than the other?

The photographer you choose is far more important than the style of photography. Choose well and a portrait with valuable visual and emotional content will fill the paper or monitor. Your team deserves their best representation.



Should I wear glasses, should I wear makeup?

Once again… Headshot is an opportunity to be your best rather than pretending to be someone else. Wear makeup if you do wear makeup otherwise you might feel uncomfortable and the same advice goes for glasses.

Sometimes, I will re-shoot a session where a female felt uncomfortable with the amount of makeup shown because she hired the wrong makeup artist. Recently, I photographed a customer who wanted not to wear glasses although he had been wearing glasses most of his life because in a few months he was about to have laser surgery in his eyes. I suggested he return for free in a few months when glasses are not a part of his life but for now, we would photograph him with glasses.

Type of Poses

Lots of garbage theories regarding the process of posing by non-photographers who tell people what they should and shouldn’t do!

Do not pose, just don’t, forget about posing and let the professional photographer lead the way. He or she will inspire your best by acutely listening to your cues and helping express them.

Recently I was photographing a customer who was standing awkwardly with his head up and I asked him if he usually stood in this way? He told me that his wife wanted to make sure his back was straight… It looked painful, unnatural for him and unappealing. We stand the way we stand because we stand that way and it has taken us millions upon millions of seconds standing a certain way to produce our habits. If you want to change your posture see a chiropractor, but if you want a great portrait let us help you.

Do not practice posing as advised by what I can only think would be an amateur photographer blogging about headshots. In this case, practice does not make perfect but instead, it may ruin your session. Your photographer will unfold your best through interaction, participation and his or her skills.

Feel free to be yourself, cross your arms if you do cross your arms and don’t if you don’t. But please do not refrain from crossing your arms because a workshop on body language taught you to become someone else.

Negative effects to having headshots of our team?

One agency invited me to make a presentation about headshots and I was asked about the possible negative effects of having a headshot of their 16 sales staff?

In the twenty or so years I have only been presented to one negative aspect and can think of a second reason for not having a headshots session.

An agency that had hearing aid consultants experienced problems with a customer who fantasized about his hearing aid practitioner by seeing her picture in the about us page.

The other possible negative reason would be if you are hiding from something or your clients.



Art of Headshots specializes in corporate and professional headshots for websites, social media like LinkedIn, and advertising. We have over 13 years of experience guiding you into authentic and professional portraits.

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