Why I Don't Do Professional Headshots

March 21, 2024

I get asked all the time "Hey, do you do professional headshots?"... and I'm here to say once and for all that no, no I do not. And let me tell you why.

If you're a photographer (and especially when you're first starting out), you sometimes take jobs that pay the bills but don't necessarily feed your soul. When I started my photography business, I tried my hand at all the traditional paid photography jobs—headshots for real estate agents, engagement photos, pet portraits, etc. And while I may not have loved all of them, they taught me valuable photography skills and allowed me to find out what I'm good at and what I'm not so good at.

What I Am Good At:

I'm good at taking photos that are real, natural, and full of authentic movement and emotion. I love being present with my clients, making them feel deeply comfortable, and encouraging playful expression and vulnerability with their poses. I love creative settings and out-of-the-box, joyful sessions that leave us both feeling grateful to be alive. I'm good at co-creating and collaborating with clients to showcase their true personalities and capture moments that represent who they are.

What I Am Not Good At:

What I'm not good at is posing people—the more I try to pose a client and aim for perfection (every hair being perfect, perfect lighting, not a thing out of place in the background, etc.), the more I overthink it. And honestly, the more I force and overthink things in a shoot, the worse the photos get. This is why I don't do headshots— because the more posed and headshot-like I try to make the pictures, the worse the quality becomes.

To me, traditional headshots are the embodiment of cultivated perfectionism. I've spent years in the unhappy pursuit of that goal and I know it doesn't feel good to me anymore. A while ago, I had a headshot session client who was so unhappy her bangs were in her face in the photos that she asked me to edit them out. In that moment, I realized an important lesson—I liked my photos better with the bangs in the face because that's real life. And real life is the image I want to capture for my clients.

It doesn't feel good to me to force a fake, formal look—so I don't even try anymore. I'm not skilled at creating the type of photos required for LinkedIn headshots and traditional business cards. Instead of aiming for (and failing to achieve) that perfectly posed perfection, I've learned to let go and allow a natural sense of collaboration and creativity to flow between photographer and subject. Because when that happens, we get the beautiful, natural-looking photos that are my signature style. The more both of us let go, the more my creativity and and their personality can shine through the camera—and the easier it is to create photos that feel like magic.

If my style of photography resonates with you and you'd like more information about what it would look like to work together, read more about my personal branding sessions here. Or if you're interested in learning more about my story and how I've discovered my photography style, visit my About page.