Business Portraits; Inspired and creative

    Best Personal Branding

    By Sally Ullman Photography


    Did you ever hear someone say after they see their headshot; I really paid attention to my photographers’ suggestions and when the photo was delivered, retouched to my email, I was impressed!

    Impressed with themselves for how great they looked, not because of their beauty, but because they look professional, engaging, and ready to meet you, their customer.

     Handled by a professional when having your business portrait taken means everything!


    Everything includes lighting, hair, expression, clothes, background, lens choice, proper distance, and angle of the camera to you.

    As well as a list of many other considerations like:

    •  Are you moving or still while being photographed?
    • Smiling or serious?
    • Is there an environment behind you or are you in a studio?
    • What are you wearing?
    • Does a certain color represent you?
    • Does your profession require some reference material to be in the picture with you like a book, computer, or even a bunch of balloons?

    Never underestimate the power of your professional headshot portrait you have taken to represent you in your business. While you are your best first impression, your photo remains the image of reference for your clients. Business portraits used on your business cards keep your image in the minds of those you meet much longer than cards without images.  If you do not want to use your personal photo then, perhaps a photo of your business or product might be more suitable. But images sell and images are remembered.

     Overall, the goal of your business headshot should be to put a face to your brand. … For example, a lawyer might prefer a very professional image with a suit and plain background, while a creative business owner could be a bit more casual and fun with their headshot. For example, the reference to the balloons from earlier.

    A good portrait draws attention to the subject. This is normally achieved through a combination of depth of field, composition, color, and lighting. … You should be able to look at a good portrait and know something about them. Can you tell what the person does for their profession from the photo that represents them?

     It might be best to hire a Branding photographer, like Sally Ullman Photography. Business portraits should be inspired by something the person does in their profession. The way to figure this out is by being interviewed first through consultation with the photographer. A good photographer will know how to pre-visualize what you might want to convey in your visual promotions.

    Below are some tips for business portraits.

    Before I schedule a session, I interview my clients as thoroughly as they will allow, so that I can bring my editorial perspective ideas to the session. I like to use my background as a photojournalist when consulting with clients to produce new images for them because this gives me the ability to ask questions from multiple perspectives.  In that way, I can create a business portrait that is distinctively different for my clients. 

    Makeup, your glasses or not, your best side, your worst side…

    This is a professional shot of you at work. Let the photographer hire a professional makeup artist for you.

     In my sessions at Sally Ullman Photography, a professional makeup artist is always offered to my clients. So, think about that when you are booking the session.

    For an extraordinarily little additional cost you can relax and have this part of the shoot session taken care of for you. If you are applying your own makeup, a natural look always works best. Do not go overboard, what you would do for a big night out, will not work for a corporate headshot. Keep it simple and make sure it feels good for you. If you normally wear strong lipstick, then that is fine, but don’t go for a bold look if you don’t normally look like that. After all, you want the image to be a good professional representation of yourself.  For everyone, male or female the excess shine will be reduced to a natural look with an even complexion, in post-production.

    Now, should I wear my glasses or not?

    Do you wear your glasses when clients meet with you when you are introduced or always, then it is not even a consideration; WEAR your glasses for the session! However, a good photographer will always offer to take the picture both ways with and without glasses and show you right away how you look in either way. So, proceed from there by deciding.

    I always look best from this side…

    Really? I cannot tell you how many clients say that and have occasionally been proven wrong and are happier for it.

     A good photographer like Sally Ullman will always photograph you from both sides of your face, you will be shown these pictures immediately and have the chance to pick whichever looks best later when you view the entire shoot. It is a big surprise to see how lighting, composition, and camera angle play a large part in creating a new perspective for you. You just may see yourself altogether differently!

     And that can be a good thing!

    The camera angle, height, and choice of lens… 

    Professional, inspired, creative headshots need the professional photographer to consider all these things when shooting your picture.


    Some people call this “posing”, I call this using common sense and photographing each person for how they look best.  Make certain that for your headshot, the photographer considers your posture, body size, facial features, smile, showing teeth, or no smile all during the session.

     How can this happen?

     A skilled business photographer will shoot from various angles to achieve a variety of poses for you. The height and distance of the camera as well as lens focal length should all be considered.

     Ask to see what is being taken of you throughout the session.


    My hair looks… great, terrible, will you fix it for me, the wind is blowing, I did not look like that when I came in…

    I have heard it all and no, I will NOT fix your hair. It is part of your responsibility in getting ready for the photo shoot and taking this professional business portrait seriously.

     It seems timing never works out to have a hairstylist on the session. 

     The best plan is to visit your hair person first and schedule the shoot for right after that appointment, so you are making all the decisions with your hairstylist of choice.

    Stop expecting the photographer to make things right for you and please have your hair styled as you like it.  It completes your image and makes you feel great when you like your hairstyle.

    What will I wear…?

     Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Select something that makes you look and feel good and what is representative of your personal style and business for any business portrait.

     For this section, I am going to be very detailed and use a list.

    What to Wear – Everyone

    • Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you look great, but this will be discussed prior to your appointment in detail.
    • Make sure your jacket and shirt fit you well. A poor fitting jacket or shirt will be obvious in the photos.
    • and you will pay extra for asking for extraordinary retouch requests.
    • Do not overdress.
    • Turtlenecks are almost always a bad idea since they make you look as if you do not have a neck.
    • I have seen amazing exceptions to the turtleneck statement so if you love them, wear it.
    • Clothes should be neatly pressed and should look new or like new. It is NOT the job of the photographer to take wrinkles out of your clothing in post-production.
    • Avoid busy patterns and large lines/stripes.
    • Blue/green/turquoise shirts/blouses or accents can help emphasize blue/green/hazel eyes.

    What to Wear – Men

    • The standard business look is a suit jacket, dress shirt, and tie.
    • A casual business look is often a jacket and open dress shirt, shirt, and tie (no jacket), or dress shirt on its own.
    • Polo shirts are a good look for some businesses. Be sure the shirt is in good condition and fits well.
    • For a no-jacket casual look, bring colored shirts – ideally darker than your skin tone.
    • A white dress shirt by itself is a bad idea – unless you plan to wear it underneath something (jacket or sweater)
    • Bring a few different jackets, shirt colors, and ties so we have choices for the photo.

    What to Wear – Women

    • Avoid big prints and busy patterns.
    • Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Bring a variety of different shirts/blouses to see what works best.
    • Do not wear sleeveless or short sleeves unless you love your arms. I can only eliminate so much in retouch.
    • For a no-jacket casual look, bring various colored blouses – ideally darker than your skin tone.
    • Be stylish and fashionable, but remember the picture is about your face and not your clothes.
    • unless clothing and jewelry are your business

    A lot of portraits get converted into black and white. Consider the tones you wear for that reason. That light blue tie with that light blue shirt may look great in real life, but by the time the image has been converted to black and white, they may be the same tone and just blend into one another. Consider contrast and tones and if in doubt take a couple of shots of yourself in the mirror on your phone and convert them to black and white and see what looks good.

    In conclusion… 

    Visit the mirror just before you have your photo taken. Please.

    Many clients walk in the studio or arrive on location and ask me, the photographer if they look good. It is a challenging question and one which I do not want responsibility for answering. But it all concludes with 1 simple rule, look in the mirror and bring what you need to improve yourself if necessary.

    Arrive with…

    A change of clothes for the possibility that you will want multiple shots in different outfits taken.

     Your makeup, hair products, whatever you need.

    I’ve had full closets arrive with curling irons and hair curlers. I’ve had men shaving in the bathroom (never a good idea) and men leaving after they cut themselves shaving on set.

    The bottom line to a professional, inspired and creative business portrait is to seek an experienced photographer and be prepared!

     Your first impression is a lasting one and a well-thought-out one too!

    Contact Sally Ullman Photography for a unique and quality experience!


    Serving the Sarasota and Greater Manatee county areas in beautiful Southwest Florida