Barry Braunstein Photography, headshot photo, Live, personal branding, photography, talent

How to Take the Best LinkedIn Headshot — And Why It Matters

When someone views your LinkedIn profile, the first thing they notice is your profile picture, and within as little as 80 milliseconds, an impression is formed. The rest of your profile either supports that initial impression or is in conflict with it, the latter not being the ideal scenario.

Your LinkedIn profile is your resume. Thinking of yourself and your career as a business, it’s your storefront, your website, and your brand. You want all the elements of your profile to work together to present the best of you, including your headshot photo.

Keeping this in mind, here are important things to consider when sitting for your next headshot.


Expression is Key

Ever look at someone’s LinkedIn profile headshot, say WOW, and wonder why? There are several key elements in a great headshot – lighting, complementary background, camera positioning all play critical roles. But number one for a business headshot is expression– it’s what gives you a feeling about the person and says whether you would like to meet or talk with them and how confident/approachable they are. It also gives you a feeling as to how genuine the look is – does the smile look posed/forced or does it look genuine?

A photographer should help people to feel comfortable in front of the camera, providing helpful direction to them, and capturing those moments where the expression looks genuine is all part of the process. The slightest differences in head position, smile, eyes can make a world of difference.

Take a look at the examples here – the images on the right have more energy and more focus. They tell you more about the person versus the images on the left. The actual physical differences are slight, but the visual differences and their impact are huge.

4 headshot phots comparing expressions


Lighting Makes All the Difference

The word Photography is derived from the Greek words photo and graph, meaning drawing with light. Lighting is another one of the key elements of a successful photograph. It creates mood, it can make people’s faces look great or not, and it can accentuate or mask things you may or may not want to emphasize.

For headshots, the best complementary lighting is critical, as you’re “up close and personal.” Facial features are very visible, and in particular, a person’s eyes and crevices need to be properly lit. Let’s look at some examples of the impact of how lighting can affect the look of a photograph.

While these are different people the concepts are still valid. And while the expressions for the subjects on the left look pretty genuine, the lighting for those images create issues that detract from the person’s appearance –there are overexposed (i.e., hot spots) areas on her skin, the crevices in the women’s face are not flattering, and the lack of light in her eyes gives her the appearance of looking older, virtually eliminating the “energy” coming from her eyes. For the man, hot spots, dark eyes, and how the skin exposure goes from light to dark to light (moving camera right to camera left across his face) is jarring.

Contrast that with the images on the right – the women’s face is very smooth, soft, even. The crevices are there, but soft and you can see the energy in her eyes. For the man’s image, while the light has some directionality, the transition is smooth and defined, accentuating his jawline. His eyes are well lit and you can feel his energy.

The overall impression is night and day. The images on the right don’t look “stuffy” or “corporate” – they just look well done. Lighting makes all the difference.

4 headshot photos comparing lighting

Different Looks Create Different Messages

Creating looks in a headshot session should be a collaborative effort between you and the photographer. Often, it’s good to have different looks for different uses – for example, you may want a look that conveys more confidence and experience versus one that is more relaxed and smiling. Neither is wrong or right, just different. For example, Ben (below) wanted several looks, one emphasizing confidence, the other approachability/friendliness. It’s not that either look has none of the other’s attributes, it’s a matter of emphasis and the particular impression you want to convey. He did a great job with both.

2 headshot photos using different expressions



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Barry Braunstein is a Boston area headshot photographer who has been in love with photography ever since he was a kid marveling at the powerful images of people and places created by Life Magazine and National Geographic photographers. He has been shooting since high school, and after a long and successful career in high-technology, he decided to turn his hobby into a business.

Barry utilizes his years of experience in marketing and sales to work with businesses and individual clients to create images that reflect their brand and the best of who they are, showing confidence, approachability, trustworthiness, and likeability. Learn more about Barry’s work and session availability here.


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