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If you are wondering what is the best background for headshots, you are certainly not alone. As headshot photographers, we get asked that question more than any other – by far!
Answering this question is not as easy as it seems which is why it is included in our Top 10 Tips for Professional Headshots FAQ. You definitely need to determine how your head shot will be used. which is why it is #4 in our Top Do’s list.
Are your professional head shots going to be used on a corporate website? Business cards? Social media sites? It is critical to know how your head shot will be used before the photo shoot since how the image will be used will determine the type of background used. Our favorite headshot backgrounds are those that are taken on-location in natural surroundings like the executive headshots we did for the leadership team of a Metro Detroit consulting company and the on-location environmental headshots we did for Northwestern University.
Ideally, you want a headshot background that does not draw any attention to itself. The standard headshot backgrounds we use in the studio are white and black. In our professional experience, the white background (aka high key background) is clean and is the most adaptable for web, print and media usage. It is a "standard" in actor and model portfolios because it does not provide and distractions and the viewer’s attention is immediately pulled into the face in the image. But, you may want to think twice before using a high key head shot on a website with a white background since the image will visually blend with the website and appear to "float". Even so, this can be easily remedied by placing a thin border around the image if it is to be used online (look at our examples below).
On the opposite end of the spectrum are dark backgrounds for headshots. They are also very good because dark colors do not demand attention and the viewer’s attention is easily drawn into the face since it is the brightest part of the image.
For comparison purposes, here is the exact same professional business headshot with a white background, neutral gray background as well a dark color-coordinated background. Which one is your favorite? Which one looks the "best"? The decision is quite subjective, isn’t it? Can you tell which one we shot and which two have been Photoshop’d?
Here is another great example of a white headshot background versus a dark color-coordinated headshot background for a business casual headshot:
While we are on the topic of color-coordinated backgrounds, gray on gray is a classic look that may never go out of style!
If you are in Metro Detroit or southeast Michigan, we would love the opportunity to talk with you about providing updated, professional headshots that will help you build your personal brand. Please feel free to contact us online or call 313-883-9500 for additional information. We can’t wait to work with you!