Skip to content

Business Headshots in San Francisco

Great Careers Deserve Great Headshots

Business headshots are your most important tool for showing the outside world that you’re like-able, competent, and charismatic. Don’t let your career get held back by a mediocre headshot.

If you’re considering getting a new headshot, here’s everything you need to know:

What Are Business Headshots?

Business headshots are closely cropped portrait photos used for various professional and entrepreneurial purposes including LinkedIn profiles, websites, business cards, brochures, advertising, and other professional media placements.

Business headshots are different from other types of headshots, as they should ideally be focused on showcasing professionalism, friendliness and competence. Acting/modeling headshots, in contrast, are more focused on showing the subject’s personality and emotional range.

Typically, business headshots are also cropped a bit wider than entertainment headshots.

business headshot style example
Traditional business headshot (left) vs creative entertainment headshot (right). The business headshot is cropped from further away and includes lighting in the background. The creative entertainment headshot is cropped closer and removes the backlight. If you work in business, you don’t NEED to get a traditional headshot – depending on your industry, you might want request Creative Edge lighting. We offer clients the choice for all studio sessions. Photos captured by HeadShots Inc Head Photographer Dan St Louis in San Francisco.

What Backdrops Are Best for Business Headshots?

It depends on your personality, industry and placement! 

For more conservative industries like law and finance, we recommend neutral backdrops based in white, gray or black. With those colors, we can get some really crisp shots that convey reliability and consistency. 

If you work in creative industries, or you’d like your photos to have a bit more “pop,” feel free to pick a colored studio backdrop or try an outdoor/in-office session. These photos often have a bit more personality. At our studio, we offer five shades of neutral colors, along with five colored backgrounds (yellow, light blue, dark blue, orange and red.)

If you’re a senior executive, entrepreneur or thought leader, you should probably have several photos of yourself that you can use across platforms. Ideally, you would have a couple outdoor photos to supplement your studio headshots. 

If you have the same exact headshot on LinkedIn, the company website, and press releases, you can look a bit amateurish.

Standard HeadShots Inc studio backdrops available for all studio sessions. Depending on your goals and industry, you may want to get an outdoor or in-office session though.

What’s The Best Way to Pose for Business Headshots?

No need to go crazy on your poses for business headshots. In our sessions, we tend to focus on minimalist poses. We’ve seen other photographers capture business headshots with some truly bizarre poses. However, we avoid this practice like the plague.

We are, after all, showcasing your professionalism — not our photography.

At the beginning of your session, you should warm up with simple and straightforward poses. Simply stand there and smile. Later, we will work toward some arms-crossed headshots and perhaps a couple candids. 

business headshot pose
Your HeadShots Inc photographer will guide you through several simple poses. This photo was captured by Head Photographer Dan St Louis in downtown San Francisco as part of a Combo Platinum Session. (Indoor + Outdoor Session)

What Are Common Mistakes for Business Headshots?

Here are the top four mistakes we see:

  1. Don’t skimp out with an uber-cheap photographer and/or friend. They likely won’t have the same equipment, experience, or willingness to retouch your photo afterward. (We have yet to meet someone who has perfect pearly white teeth, hair that never moves/frizzes, and no bags under their eyes.)
  2. On the other hand, don’t book a photographer who will overly photoshop your image. Make sure to review their website photos. Some headshots look like wax was poured over the client’s face.
  3. Don’t fall for the idea that your headshot should be super casual. You can wear a t-shirt once you’re a billionaire, not before.
  4. Remember to update your photo every two years. Hopefully, people will actually recognize you when you meet them for the first time.
On LinkedIn, company websites, and business cards – it’s extremely easy to notice who has a professional business headshot versus who has a selfie or outdated photo. Photo taken by a HeadShots Inc photographer in San Francisco.

What Are Some Tips for Great Business Headshots?

Here are our three keys to success.

First, make sure to get the right photographer. Don’t pick a generalist who does 50 types of photography. The right headshot photographer will help you sort out all of the above questions during the shoot. 

Second, try to get some rest, sunlight and exercise the week before your shoot. You’ll bring a lot more energy and freshness to your shoot. It’s not always possible, but it helps.

Third, try to relax! Even if you’re nervous, remember that you only really need one to three awesome headshots. At HeadShots Inc, we tend to laugh a lot, dance to funky upbeat electronic music, and generally have fun during our shoots. Try to pick a photographer who does the same!

business headshot poses
The right business headshot photographer can help coach you through multiple poses and expressions. Photo taken by a HeadShots Inc photographer in downtown San Francisco.

How Much Do Business Headshots Cost?

Business headshots cost between $65 and $750 depending on geography, package and provider. The upper end is likely a complete rip-off unless you’re looking for an extremely specific style. The bottom end is going to produce some truly terrible photos. 

When considering pricing, remember to look at a) licensing (who owns the photos) and b) retouching fees.

In terms of licensing, photographers typically only give you ownership for photos that you “buy” from them. This fee is separate from your “session fee,” which just covers the time spent inside their studio. If you want to use your photos on a billboard, or in print, or somewhere else, you may have to pay additional fees.

For retouching, many photographers charge between $50 and $100 per photo. Calculate those fees into your total session cost.

For reference, HeadShots Inc sessions cost between $150 and $400, you get 100% rights to all original photos, and  you get one airbrushed photo included (additional are just $25 each.) 

Where Can I Get Business Headshots in San Francisco?

San Francisco is blessed with a ton of photographers, but we hope you consider coming to HeadShots Inc! We offer studio, outdoor and in-office sessions for both individuals and groups. Check out our Individual Sessions and Team Sessions pages for prices and booking.

dan st louis headshot photographer

San Francisco’s #1 Rated Headshot Photographers

About the Author

Dan St Louis is the Owner and Head Photographer at HeadShots Inc. As a headshot and portrait specialist, his work has been featured on the larget photography blogs in the world including: 500px, PetaPixel, Fstoppers, DIYPhotography, ShotKit, and

To get amazing business headshots that supercharge your career, check out our Individual Session page for booking options.

Studio Sessions start at just $150.