Lights, Cameras, SMILE: Tips for the Best Professional Headshot

Written by: Ryan Twaddle

Ryan is an active MU ASDA member and recently has been elected to serve as National ASDA Speaker of the House.



In the age of social media, having an accurate headshot can reflect your personality, your professionalism and your marketability. You may have a practice website introducing you to potential patients and you want your best smile forward. Here are some tips for getting a perfect headshot:

BACKGROUND: Brainstorm where you want to be and what will be behind you. A busy background can distract viewers. Try a wall with simple color or minor details. Even consider some outdoors locations, you just need a small area, and can crop the rest out. Make sure that you do not pick a plain white wall or wall that your outfit blends into. You don’t want a passport photo!

LIGHTING: Natural will make you look your best. Find large windows or head outdoors to get some natural light. Cloudy days can provide better lighting without the shadows from the sun.

WHAT TO WEAR: How will the audience see you when they meet you? Do you practice in scrubs? Are you applying for a Board position where suit and tie is expected? Tailor your outfit to what your audience will see, always erroring on the side of more professional than less.

WHAT NOT TO WEAR: Wrinkled dress shirts, a top that cuts too deep, and sunglasses or items that cover your face. Also, consider current trends and AVOID. Although staying current is important, think about how the photo will age in a month, a year, a few years. You want an ageless photo unless you want to keep updating it.

VARIETY: Change up your poses, change up your location. You want to have choices after the shoot. Nothing is more frustrating than getting dressed up and taking photos to not be excited about any of them. Each one of these headshots has varying lighting, locations, backgrounds, angles, outfits and poses. As you take more photos you will better identify what you like and do not like in order to create your best headshot.


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FINAL TIP: Get a friend with an actual camera and not a smart phone!

Best of luck in your headshot endeavors!