What Is An Acceptable Headshot?

Have you ever wondered What is an acceptable headshot? The question is one of the most searched questions on Google regarding headshots. I want to spin the question around on you. If you are asking what is an acceptable headshot? I want you to start asking “What is an exceptional headshot?

Why is your target “acceptable” and not “Exceptional”? If you are an executive, or CEO, or a tech start-up founder, are you aiming for your company to be acceptable or exceptional?

Obviously, your goal is to be exceptional and not acceptable. So your headshot needs to be EXCEPTIONAL!

Why settle for an acceptable headshot when you can have an exceptional headshot?

It’s All About the Story

Exceptional headshots do more than show a face; they tell a story. What’s the narrative behind the person in the frame? Is it the confident CEO of a booming start-up in Vancouver? Or a creative genius behind the latest tech innovation? That story is what sets a headshot apart. You DO NOT want a quick snapshot for a headshot. You need to be intentional!

Emotion and Connection

The best headshots communicate emotion and a connection. Think about it – when you scroll through social media, which images make you pause The images and videos that make you stop scrolling are funny, scary, suspenseful, and spark curiosity. The acceptable images and videos are scrolled away faster than Lewis Hamilton‘s F1 racecar.

Quality Speaks Volumes

Quality is key. We’re talking about crisp, high-resolution images that look professional. No blurry, low-light selfies here. Remember, this photo represents you or your client’s professional image. Images that can look good on LinkedIn and be printed on a large scale for your keynote speech at the next big conference. Quality images have perfect lighting, and a great expression, and can be used EVERYWHERE!

Branding, Branding, Branding

A headshot should align with personal or corporate branding. It’s not just a photo; it’s a part of a larger narrative about the brand. Does the headshot fit with the company’s image? Is it conveying the right message about the person or the company? Does the background colour match with the branding of the company? Is your wardrobe in line with the branding? Is your hair and makeup done correctly? Branding is all-inclusive.

The Right Environment

Where is this headshot taken? A studio? Out in the beautiful landscapes of British Columbia? The environment can add context and depth to the headshot, making it more than just a portrait.

I recommend everybody has an exceptional headshot on a solid colour background such as grey or white as their first image. A solid colour background has the highest ROI because it has the most use cases. After you have an exceptional headshot on a solid colour background, then we can go out and take branding images, headshots and portraits in an environment. You absolutely need those images too!

business headshot environment portrait

Key Elements of an Exceptional Headshot


The cornerstone of any great photograph, lighting is more important than the camera. Lighting tells the story. Lighting is the paintbrush that paints a piece of artwork. It should highlight the best features without creating harsh shadows or an unnatural appearance. However, drama can be a powerful tool for communicating and standing out, It all comes back to the story you want to tell.


How is the subject framed? Is there too much headroom? Is it a tight close-up or is there some negative space? The composition should enhance the subject, not distract from it. In a close-up photo where your head takes up the majority of the frame communicates that you are important. If you are small in the frame with a lot of negative space or the elements around you tower over you, it communicates that you are less important and small.

Maybe you are the CEO of a nationwide moving company like Salmons Transfer and you want to communicate that your company can move an insane amount of boxes. It might make sense to have an image of mountains of boxes towering over you. This would be an awesome image, but it is a secondary image. You would still need an exceptional headshot for your profile photo.


A genuine smile, a thoughtful gaze – the right expression makes a headshot relatable and engaging. It’s about capturing the subject’s personality. Your expression communicates to other people what you are all about. The majority of communication is non-verbal.

Our eyes communicate if we are confident or surprised.

Our mouth communicates if we are friendly or grumpy.

Posture and Pose

Body language is key. A good posture conveys confidence. How the subject carries themselves in the photo can speak volumes.

I work with you to get the right posture, pose, and expression. Headshot photographers often refer to themselves as expression coaches because we coach you through the entire process. Making it easy and fun!

Attire and Styling

Clothes and styling should complement the individual’s role and industry. A tech entrepreneur might opt for a more casual look, while a lawyer might go for a classic suit. Every year I see each industry become more and more casual but clothing is a huge part of branding.

However, an exceptional headshot is all about your face. You DO NOT want your wardrobe to distract from your face. A quick tip for what to wear for your headshot is “keep it simple”! No logos, no busy patterns, muted colours, and no chunky jewelry. Less is more.

Bottom Line

Is your big dream to be “acceptable”? If so, then get an acceptable headshot. If your goal is to be “exceptional” then hire a professional headshot photographer and have an exceptional headshot.