What is a headshot? A headshot is so more than just a photo of your face; it’s a reflection of your personality and style. 

As an experienced creative headshot photographer in NYC, I’ve taken countless headshots for my clients over the years. My favorite part of taking these photos is co-creating images that truly represent my client through and through.

Each one is an opportunity to capture someone’s uniqueness and make it shine through the lens. Through creative lighting, angles, and poses, I’m able to create timeless portraits that will stand out from the typical grey-background-boring headshots you see all around! (Because seriously… your headshots do not have to be boring.)

If you’re wondering, “What is a headshot?” and want some tips for getting unique ones, keep reading!

What is a headshot?

Back and white photo of a woman walking in a loft while looking back out a window.

So, in its simplest terms, a headshot is just a type of portrait photography that focuses on the face of the subject. These are typically taken from the shoulders up but can also be a bit more unique, showing a little more of the body.

These headshots are usually used for purposes including social media profiles (like on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.). They can also commonly be used for events, such as if someone is speaking at an online summit or giving an in-person talk.

With headshots, most photographers will strive to capture not only the subject physically but also their personalities and emotions. For example, if the subject of the headshot is an author with books on confidence and happiness, then the photographer will work to make sure that the photos also convey confidence and positivity!

Through creative poses, angles, and lighting, headshots can help capture someone’s unique personality in an image that stands out from other photographs. Carefully crafted headshots can truly make all the difference in marketing, too.

Tips for Getting Unique Headshots

Wondering how to make sure you get headshots that are super creative? I’m a big believer that your headshots can be both professional and unique. Here are some of my tips for getting unique headshots.

Choose your photographer carefully

A woman smiling on the streets of New York City while leaning on her hand.

Choosing the right photographer for your headshot is key to making sure you get the perfect, creative photo you’re looking for. A professional photographer who specializes in headshots and understands what kind of image you want to capture will ensure that your unique personality comes through in the photos. 

For instance, I’m a creative headshot photographer here in NYC, and I can provide valuable advice on angles, clothing choices, and more that may help make your photos stand out from other headshots.

Ultimately, you want someone who will take the time to listen to you, understand your vision, and create an image that truly reflects your best self!

Consider poses ahead of time

A woman walking along a beach path with her shoes in her hands as she looks back over her shoulder.

It’s important to consider poses ahead of time when getting headshots because it helps you to know exactly what poses and angles you want to try. This way, you can ensure that the photographer captures the exact photo you’re envisioning for your shot.

Pinterest is a great place to brainstorm ideas for the types of poses you like. As you browse through the platform, look for images that speak to you and reflect the type of image you’re looking to create. Save these pins so that they’ll be easily accessible after your session starts.

You can also share them with your photographer in advance so they have an idea of what type of shot you’re aiming for. Most photographers (like me) will also have a variety of different poses in their toolkit that they’ll recommend for you, too, depending on the vibe you’re going for.

This will help ensure that the photos capture the essence of who you are and showcase you at your best.

It’s important to remember, though, that these are just inspiration. You don’t have to feel like you need to look exactly like a model or pose in a way that you are uncomfortable with. Take what you find on Pinterest and find ways to make it more you and transform it into something that stands out! 

Communicate as much as you can

A woman smiling and leaning back on a stool as she kicks her legs out and holds the stool with one hand. In the other hand is a camera.

Having an open and honest conversation with your photographer is also key to getting unique headshots that you love. Make sure to communicate what’s important to you! Be as detailed as possible when discussing the look you’re going for.

Be sure to explain why certain concepts are meaningful to you so that your photographer can understand the vision behind them.

In short, communication is key to getting great headshots. Don’t hesitate to discuss all of the details with your photographer, and be sure they have a clear understanding of what look you’re going for before the shoot starts.

Gather props

A black and white photo of a woman sitting at a desk working on a laptop and writing in a notebook.

Props can be pretty powerful when it comes to headshots. They can bring life to the photo, add extra personality, and help your headshot stand out. Items like jewelry, hats, or scarves can give an otherwise ordinary photo a unique feel and edge. 

Adding props is also a great way to show off your own personal style and interests – they can provide insight into who you are as a person visually.

It’s important to remember that props should only be used if they enhance the overall look of the photo – they shouldn’t overshadow you or take away from the essence of the shot. With careful consideration, props can truly elevate your headshots and make them shine. If you’re unsure if a prop is a good idea, just ask your photographer!

Experiment with angles and lighting

A woman running her fingers through her hair as the sun sets right over her head.

Lighting and camera angles can also be used to create unique looks when getting headshots. Having your photographer experiment with different angles can make a big difference in the overall look of your headshots. 

Adding in additional lighting elements can also be used to create subtle changes that help bring out textures and details you wouldn’t otherwise get with regular lighting. With careful experimentation, you can end up with looks that are truly unique and memorable!

Wear what you’re comfortable in

A slightly blurry photo of a woman walking in front of a wall with large windows.

When it comes to getting your headshots taken, it’s important to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. You’ll be spending a few hours with the photographer, and if you’re uncomfortable with what you’re wearing, the session won’t be as enjoyable, and honestly, the uncomfortableness will show in your photos.

Choosing something that’s comfortable and fits your style will help ensure that your photos also come off the way that you want them to. Again, remember that you can still be unique while being professional; maybe instead of wearing a neutral-colored shirt, you can wear a bold one if that’s your style and reflects who you are!

If there is an item of clothing or accessory that you know looks great on camera but isn’t necessarily something you would usually wear, ask a friend or family member for their opinion before deciding to wear it. Ultimately, when getting headshots taken, focus on wearing something that expresses who you are and makes you feel confident!

Have fun

A woman walking along cobblestone streets holding a clear umbrella and smiling.

It’s important that you also have a good time during the process! It’s normal to feel a bit of pressure when getting headshots taken, but having some fun will make the entire experience much more enjoyable. 

This will reflect in the end results: if you’re smiling and showing your personality during the photo shoot, it’ll be much easier for the photographer to capture a genuine shot of you. 

Allow yourself to let go! When someone is laughing and being silly between shots, it makes for an overall better atmosphere and could lead to some unexpected comedic shots, which can be great additions to your images.

Headshot Examples

Curious about what headshots could look like when they’re more creative? Here are some examples!

Final Thoughts: What is a headshot?

A headshot is a valuable and important asset for any professional looking to increase their visibility and reach in today’s digital world. Having the right headshot can make all the difference in how people perceive you since it’s often the first interaction that they have with you, especially online!

With a great headshot, you can demonstrate confidence and professionalism while also showing your personality. So, if you’re based in NYC and are looking to update your headshots or gain new ones, don’t hesitate to reach out. I can take high-quality headshots that are sure to make an impression! Click here to get in touch.

Check these out next:

Business, Portraits

What is a headshot? (+ tips on how to be creative with them!)

Influencer photoshoot of a woman looking over her shoulder while standing in front of a wall covered in pages from a sketchbook.

September 11, 2023

I’m an NYC photographer who is more than a little obsessed with documenting your looking-good-feeling-even-better moments.

I’m Francesca!