The Best Background for your Headshot

The Best Background for your Headshot

Believe it or not, the background is a huge consideration in any photograph. Have you ever wondered what works best for a headshot? Let’s start with what not to do...

Remember your school picture days? Those muddy backgrounds are out That same background was often used in stodgy boardroom photos. It doesn’t work there anymore either. Why? First, it’s super dated. Times have changed — you don't want to imply you're stuck in the 90s.

Second, it’s lousy for social media. Your image must pop! Your face (the whole purpose of the headshot image) should stand out — especially in LinkedIn, when the image is the size of a postage stamp on your screen. Your face can get lost in the dark muddy background, bringing down the impact.

Should your image ever need to match others, it’s difficult to get things to match up. Don’t waste your time trying to match an old standard. Let your photographer spend that time retouching or helping you with graphic design options.

A simple background is super versatile for the constantly changing social media graphics sizes.

A simple background is super versatile for the constantly changing social media graphics sizes.

Less is more.

I recommend going for a clean seamless backdrop. It’s easy to match and can usually be tweaked to match other tones. I love a pure white, but grey tones work as well. These backgrounds are ideal for social media graphics and work with almost any branding color scheme. Every social media platform, from Facebook to LinkedIn has different recommended dimensions for ads, banners and image posts. Simple backgrounds are easily extended (or cropped) to fit any specs. This ensures you get the most mileage out of every image.

What about natural backgrounds?

Absolutely! These are often referred to as environmental portraits. Subjects are photographed in their element. This could be anywhere from an office chair to a nature scene.

Organic backgrounds can be great, but they come with tradeoffs.

Organic backgrounds can be great, but they come with tradeoffs.

But there are couple things to watch out for. First, if you’re hoping to get a perfectly uniform background for multiple people in your organization, think again. By definition, things will change. Variations in height across a few people may result in dramatically different background frames.

Second, an organic background can be much more difficult to resize in Photoshop. So in some sense, this look is a little less flexible than a seamless background (which can be extended in any direction).

Keep it simple!

I believe your headshot tells a story. To the extent that photographing you in a particular scene adds to that story, all the better. But, if the image is going straight to your LinkedIn or Facebook profile, then I wouldn’t stress about the background. Just go with a clean seamless look for maximum impact.

Have more questions? Drop me a note!