This is a helpful guide to uncover some background ideas you can use for your headshot photography!
Whether you are a beginner or experienced photographer, I hope you get a lot of value from today’s guide.
Nobody likes a flat passport-like headshot.
They want entrancing photos that are simple yet stunning!
In this article, we will share our simple yet awesome headshot background ideas to inspire photographers.
Are you interested? If so, then let us start by discussing the purpose of a great headshot, shall we?
What is the Purpose of a Headshot?
Almost everyone uses headshots for a first impression. Websites, advertisements, 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 clients‘ personality, emotions, and values. Proper headshots require these aspects to show and become more than a mere photo.
Backgrounds also determine how formal a photo is.
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!
7 Simple 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 it matches them.
Let us start with the classic, shall we?
I. The Good Old Black and White Background
The good old black and white are still relevant in these days. Each effect adds its unique shine towards 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.
The Dramatic Black Background
The black backdrop is also considered one of the best backgrounds for a headshot. It adds a dramatic feel towards the picture. It amplifies the clients’ personality 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.
II. 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 clients’ 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.
III. 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.
IV. 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 on 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 over night and day is a wise choice!
Try new things out and adjust your clients’ clothing to fit the location.
V. 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!
Regardless of your clients’ 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 situations 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!
VI. The Clients’ Workplace
Using the clients’ workplace is also considered as a professional headshot background. We have seen numerous headshots of chefs in their beloved kitchen 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!
VII. 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.
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.
Also, check out this guide on male poses.
Now I want to hear from you!
If you found any of these tips/techniques to be helpful, or you have a tip that works for you —
be sure to let me know by leaving a comment down below!
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Nate Joaquin Torres is a portrait photographer based in Southern California. As a photographer, Nate loves testing different photography styles and gear to expand his skill set. Outside of photography, Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. Nate is also the founder of Imaginated.com, DEEP IN THE MIX, and Blue Hour Candle. Connect with him on Instagram.