The anatomy of a professional headshot session

The process of getting a professional headshot is more complex than, say, having your picture taken for your school yearbook.  That said, it doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated as some people make it out to be.

Depending on your needs and job position, the process can take anywhere between 5 minutes and a couple of hours. But the results will be well worth the effort.

Knowing a few details about what you can expect during your session will help you maximize the opportunity of working with a professional so that you get the most out of your session.

In this article, I will walk you through the main steps of getting a professional headshot so that you feel more prepared and more comfortable going into your session.

Executive Portrait Headshot Woman Attorney

Who Needs Headshot Photography and How It Helps You

The quality of the headshots included in their casting portfolios is a factor that can have a significant influence on actors’ and models’ careers. It’s what helps casting directors form a first impression of who candidates are and whether they are right for the part or not.

However, models and actors are not the only ones who stand to benefit from having a professional headshot.

With the continuous rise of social media platforms and the Internet, we all need to be concerned with our public image. We’ve become personal brands and we all like to put our best foot forward in each of the media we use – starting with our profile pictures.

Nowadays, there are many different circumstances when having a good headshot comes in handy. Here are just a few examples:

  • Applying for jobs
  • Starting a new business
  • Becoming an active public speaker
  • Getting promoted to a management or PR position
  • Going back to school
  • Updating the company site
  • Doing freelance work.

Hey, we’ve even taken headshots for circus performers.

There is no denying the fact that a good headshot is a must for most career and growth opportunities that arise. That’s because people tend to associate your face with the business you are in, and even with your professional potential.

Working with a skilled photographer will not only help you portray yourself in the best presentable way, but it will also take the stress out of the whole process. A trained photographer understands the subtleties of body language and expression and serves as your guide and coach to help you collaboratively create your favorite portraits.

If you know you need a new headshot don’t procrastinate, just let us know. We’d love to get the best photo for you. Here’s the whole process you’ll go through.

Before the Session

First things first: we want to get to know you better. We usually do this via email or phone call. Whichever option is more comfortable for you.

You can let us know a bit more about yourself either before or after you booked your headshot session. The main purpose of this conversation is for us to learn some details about yourself to ensure the results are what you need.

Here are a few questions you can expect:

  • Do you have any questions for us? It’s best to clarify everything from the start. You might have aspects you are unclear of, and we like to know you have all the information you need before we get started.
  • What will you use the headshot for? Pictures which are included in a resume will be different than ones which are included in a company presentation. It’s good to know what you’d mainly like to use them for so you’ll get the best results.
  • Do you have a particular style in mind? It might be something clear or just some suggestions you’d like to share with the photographer. You can even send us examples of portraits you’ve seen and liked in case you want your photos to look similar to those.
  • Where would you like the session to take place? We can take the pictures at our studio, at your office or in an outdoor environment. Don’t worry, we have a portable studio, so even the ones taken in your office will look just as amazing as the one’s in-studio. It’s best to discuss this aspect with your photographer ahead of time, as some locations might need permits which need to be acquired before your session.
  • When is the best time? We like to know you’ll have time for the session and aren’t rushed by other activities. That’s one way of making sure the final photos will meet your expectations. We can even discuss what you should be wearing and any other details.
  • Are there any technical requirements for the headshot? Some marketing departments have brand-required and technical guidelines that need to be followed for the portrait to be usable. It’s good to know in advance whether you need a certain ‘look’, composition, or file format.

After we have all this figured out, it’s time to meet with your photographer to have the pictures taken!

During the Headshot Session

Regardless of where you and your photographer decide to take the pictures, it’s necessary to be on time. If it’s in the studio, make sure to have our address and always be prepared for unexpected DC traffic or Metro delays. You can find our location and direction here.

If we’re in your office, this will have to set the studio up, a process which can take anywhere between 30-60 minutes before starting the actual photoshoot.

The session will start with us getting acquainted. I’m always happy to meet new people and hear what they’re interested in.

It’s always good to discuss how you want the end results to look like. Don’t be afraid to get specific – the more information you can share with your photographer, the better.

Like why you actually need the photos and how will they help you. Maybe you’re going for an expert look that showcases your professional side for getting that interview you want.

Sharing these types of details with your photographer will help you feel more comfortable and also get you in the right mindset.


Once you are in place, we’ll show you some brief posing rules and will adjust the set based on your particular body type and the style of portrait you requested. We will even take a few test shots to make sure that everything is working correctly and that we all like what we see.

When we start taking the actual photos, we’ll see each shot on the screen of a computer. We’ll take a few “rounds” of photographs with small adjustments, that way, you can have real-time feedback on them and we can collaborate on the final look.

In the first stage, we will give you some clear positions for your body and head and I’ll ask for different expressions from you. This exercise will help you be more body aware and also get a concrete idea of what you like and don’t like in the portrait.

You’ll see how even a tilt of the head can change the way the portrait looks overall. You can even get some good ideas from this video. 

The second stage is all about small details. We already know the main body positions and expressions you want, so we’ll just try to refine them.

This is usually the part where we get the best headshots. You’ll get to choose your favorites at the end.

After the Session

Once we have the unprocessed files, we’ll do a “standard” level of retouching. So don’t worry, you’ll still look like yourself, but a well-rested you.

We basically lighten lines, remove blemishes and smooth blotchy skin. If there are any particular aspects you’d want us to retouch, please let us know at the end of the session. It might be an overnight zit.

When the images are finished, we’ll send them to you in private online gallery where you can view and download them. Feel free to use them for as many time as you wish for resumes, online profiles, printed materials or any other purpose.

We usually deliver the photos within 5 business days or less.

Starting the Process for Yourself

Now you know all the main steps towards you getting the best headshots. The only thing you need to do now is to book your own session.

It’s not hard at all, just choose the type you want and the day you’ll be available, and we’ll get in touch with you soon to go over all the details.