Headshot Photography

Headshot Background Ideas

Photo of author
Written By Nate Torres

This is a helpful guide to uncover some background ideas you can use for your headshot photography!

As you prepare for your upcoming headshot photo session, one important factor to consider is the background.

The background of your headshot can greatly impact the overall look and feel of the image, and there are countless options to choose from.

In this article, we’ll explore some headshot background ideas to help you find the perfect backdrop for your professional photo.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

7 Headshot Background Ideas

These headshot background ideas are inexpensive and hold high rewards for those who use them.

Remember to adjust to your client, so, do not force your client to use a background they dislike even if it matches them.

Let us start with the classic, shall we?

1. The Good Old Black and White Background

The good old black and white are still relevant these days. Each effect adds its unique shine to a photo.

Simple White Background

Plain white backdrops are popular since it is a neutral color that just shows the client as they are.

Clean, simple, and minimalistic.

This color works wonders for those searching for a multi-purpose professional headshot background. Everybody can use it for any occupation and situation! Just make sure that the client wears a dark outfit to add needed contrast.

white background headshot photo
white background example

The Dramatic Black Background

The black backdrop is also considered one of the best backgrounds for a headshot.

It adds a dramatic feel to the picture. It amplifies the clients’ personalities and makes them speak volumes.

These work best for those who want their headshots more unique and entrancing. Particularly for those who want a unique headshot.

If the client wants to feel even more unique, recommend them vibrant clothing (like a pink or white suit) and create that beautiful contrast.

In the same black background, a client can either look cool, calm, and collected or look very vibrant and eye-catching!

Using a black background requires you to have a studio and a good understanding of how lighting works. So, keep that in mind too.

black background headshot photo
black background example

2. A Grey Background

This background sits between the white and black backgrounds, offering a little bit of both worlds. A professional headshot background should be adjusted to the client’s skin tone.

If your client has a tan or brown skin tone, we recommend using this!

Make it a little darker for a sense of drama and pop. It works like a black-and-white background; it is just more “toned” to those with a particular skin tone.

business headshot smile
grey background example

3. Textured Backgrounds

Using texture as headshot background ideas is not a bad choice. They add a perceived depth and feel, making your photos more realistic. But in this case, balance is critical.

Why balance, you ask? Well, backgrounds should be nice and fitting for the client. They rarely become the highlight of a headshot for obvious reasons.

Textured backgrounds may have eye-catching color shades, avoid making it too flashy.

Some examples of textured backgrounds are a solid grey wall, a painted brick wall, floor drops, or even a curtain!

Different backgrounds provide different textures that should be taken into consideration. A plain neutral grey wall gives a smooth surface, while a brick wall will give a rougher texture.

headshot photo textured background
textured background example

4. Strong Lines and Architectures

These may not be formal enough for corporates or applications, but they have a unique charm.

As one of the best backdrops for headshots, buildings can be found anywhere. Most of them also have sharp lines that will lead the viewer’s eye.

Different architectures supply different impressions.

Tokyo’s busy night city can make a headshot feel more modern. While the countryside shed gives a traditional, simplistic impression.

Also, look for patterns in the architecture. An easy example would be multiple columns.

These will look astounding as a backdrop, just keep in mind to lower the f-stop, so it does not distract the viewers.

Knowing a location’s architecture and how its impressions change overnight and the day is a wise choice!

Try new things out and adjust your clients’ clothing to fit the location.

headshot photo building backdrop
lined background example

5. Natural Backgrounds

We highly recommend adding natural backgrounds to your headshot background ideas. People always loved how it looks, along with the numerous meanings it can send!

business headshot hand on chin
natural background example

Regardless of your client’s needs and personality, a wide choice of natural backgrounds will always be available. Either it is their backyard or a special place that means the world to them.

Keep in mind that taking these headshots will not be easy. Skill, preparation, and improvisation according to the situation are needed. High risk, but very high reward!

Make sure that the background does not catch all the viewers’ attention; your client should be the highlight.

We recommend using a large aperture and a low f-stop, but feel free to experiment!

6. The Clients’ Workplace

Using the clients’ workplace is also considered a professional headshot background.

We have seen numerous headshots of chefs in their beloved kitchens or food truck.

Either it is them posing with their utensils, or while they are busy cooking in a rush hour.

Clients and the audience love it! It expresses their identity and beloved business. There are also many elements that can tell their experience working there.

Play with surrounding elements and see which works best for your client.

Scout the place to know what it looks like, how much lighting you should add or diffuse, and other factors. Focus on your client, and shoot!

headshot of chef
background of clients workspace example

7. Colored Backdrop

Although underrated, this is also one of the best backdrops for headshots. There are a wide variety of colors outside the usual red, green, and blue.

These work best for clients that are searching for a unique and less traditional backdrop but avoid a black background.

Because of the variety of colors, you should adjust their clothing to the backdrop or their selected color palette. Make sure that it contrasts, so they do not blend into the background. Unless they purposely requested it.

colored backdrop headshot photo
colored backdrop example

What is the Purpose of a Headshot?

Almost everyone uses headshots for a first impression. Websites, advertisements, and mainly social media accounts, use a headshot.

They affect how the audience perceives a person or brand. They should also represent the client in their desired way. These types of headshots can skyrocket the respective party’s popularity.

The problem is it gets tricky to produce an amazing one without proper headshot background ideas.

Because headshots are focused on the client, not the background, but without any background, it will look dull and boring.

Can a Headshot Have a Background?

Yes, they can.

Backgrounds are essential in representing your client’s personality, emotions, and values. Proper headshots require these aspects to show and become more than mere photos.

Backgrounds also determine how formal a photo is.

business headshot 1
example background

In general, the simpler a background is, the more formal it will become. But this does not apply to every company or corporate. Some companies, such as those focused on photography or art, prefer headshots that express the applicant.

Astounding headshots require the best backgrounds. In that spirit, we compiled a handful of the best background for a headshot!

Final Remarks

Headshots have a distinct purpose in this day and age. To achieve that, photographers need amazing ideas that do not distract viewers, which is the reason we made this article.

Your choice of headshot background ideas can either make or break your photo. Choose them accordingly to match your clients’ requests. Proceed to guide them to look their best in the said idea!

Each backdrop has its own effect, starting from a dramatic black background to a very natural background. The choice is yours and your clients alone.

Have fun experimenting and mastering these headshot background ideas and see you next time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best background color for a headshot?

The best background color for a headshot largely depends on your personal preferences and the type of image you’re trying to create. That said, neutral colors like white, gray, and black are often popular choices as they create a clean and timeless look that doesn’t distract from the subject.

Do headshots have to have a plain background?

No, headshots don’t necessarily have to have a plain background. While many headshots use a plain or neutral backdrop, there are plenty of creative and unique options to choose from, depending on your profession, personal style, and intended use for the photo.

What color combinations look best on headshots?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best color combinations for headshots can vary depending on factors such as skin tone, wardrobe, and intended use of the photo. In general, it’s important to choose colors that complement rather than clash with the subject’s appearance and outfit.