The Benefits of Photographing Tethered Headshots

One of my most painful experiences was showing a client their headshots from the back of my camera and getting their approval during the session, only to show them the same images later on my computer and get very different feedback. There’s an obvious benefit to seeing pictures on a larger scale that helps reveal more details and nuance that you can’t see on a 3” LCD screen. I started doing tethered headshots to fix this, and the difference has been incredible. My clients are way happier with their headshots, and the images themselves are better too. Here’s why you should consider taking your next headshots tethered.

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Drawbacks of Non-Tethered Headshots

Let’s start with the drawbacks of the standard way you may get your headshots taken. Firstly, you’re working off a small screen. Your photographer will direct you a bit, tell you to look a certain way, and then fire off a few images. Next, they’ll change your pose and posture and capture a few more photos. After that, they’ll walk over to you and show you the pictures they just caught on the back of their camera to get your feedback. Unfortunately, your frame of reference is a 3” LCD screen that may be dirty, reflecting light, or super dim. Not an easy task, especially if you don’t have the best eyesight.

It’s challenging to see subtle detail like stray hairs, wrinkles in your clothes, or squinty eyes. Additionally, your photographer can only scroll through images – they can’t make side-by-side comparisons. Instead, you have to wait to see them on a computer screen.

tethered headshots of glamor model

What is Shooting Tethered in Photography?

It’s incredibly simple. Your photographer connects their camera to their computer via external cable or wireless connection. I like a wired connection because it’s more stable and reliable than wireless. My favorite is the TetherTools 15’ bright orange cable. The orange is easy to see, AKA less chance of tripping. The images instantly get transferred to my computer via the wired connection. Your photographer may need special software to make it work, like Capture One, but it’s worth the effort.

The Benefits of Tethered Headshots

So the images instantly get transferred from the camera to the computer. So what? Why is a tethered headshot so special?

They Use a Bigger Screen

Gone are the days of determining if an image is perfect off the back of my camera’s 3” LCD screen. Because the photos are instantly transferred to my computer, they are immediately viewable on my 28” 4k monitor. The first time my clients see their images on my 4k monitor, everyone says, “Wow, look at that detail!” You and I can see the photos blown up in tremendous detail, so we can easily say, “Yup, this works,” or “Nope, let’s make some adjustments.”

Easy to Compare Images

When reviewing the images on my computer, I can do more manipulation to compare the headshots we’ve captured. For example, I can select 2 to 10 pictures and show them all simultaneously, so you can easily pick which headshot you like best from that set. It’s easy to see where we have duplicate images or if the first headshot we captured is better than the 37th.

No One Has to Move

A minor but essential benefit is because the images are displayed so much bigger via my 28” monitor, neither you nor I have to move from our spots to see your pictures quickly. After checking the images, we don’t have to find the exact place we were both standing previously. Your feet are already there! One of the trickiest parts of being a photographer is making my images consistent. By having you stand in the same spot and not move, I can more easily duplicate the look of an image if all we want is to modify how much we turn your head because the rest was perfect. If you move off your spot, I have to reset your posture and pose. You don’t have to move with tethered headshots, and we can save time.

smiling model tethered headshot

Instant Feedback

Because the images instantly appear on my monitor, you and I can look at your pictures immediately after I take them while the session is still in full swing. I can see your images and immediately say, “Hey, your shirt is wrinkled. Let’s fix that and retake the image.” Or, you can say, “Hey, I don’t like how my jawline disappears. Can we change that?” Without shooting tethered, we may miss those nuances during the shoot. That means some time after the session ends, we’ll see that annoyance after you’ve changed your clothes, messed with your hair, or I’ve changed my lighting around. We can’t duplicate that look now! This can be frustrating because we could toss a perfect image for a stray hair, misaligned tie, or because you’re not happy with how I posed you. Shooting tethered headshots allows you to say you like something immediately or not while we still have everything set up. This leads to the last benefit!


Not only do you, as the client, get to make suggestions, tweaks, and modifications live during the shoot, but if we have a Hair & Makeup Artist or various creative staff like a publisher, editor, or art director present – they can too! Getting the images as we take them onto a large monitor where everyone can see the shots allows all parties to make suggestions on the fly. This perk brings about a lot of collaboration and helps produce images where everyone feels satisfied. Every headshot client that I’ve photographed tethered has loved the process because they got to take an ownership role in creating images they loved. Instead of completely relying on your photographer to know how to photograph you how you like, you get to chime in and influence how your headshots come out. How awesome is that?

Wrap Up

Shooting tethered is one of the most common positive feedback points from my clients. They all raved about how easy it made their headshot sessions, how they felt more in control of the images created, how it made the process more fun, and how they felt less nervous because they could see the photos we were generating in real-time. Shooting tethered headshots has been such a game-changer that I now shoot all my indoor portrait sessions tethered as well. It’s that helpful and valuable for all parties involved. So, if you can, find a photographer who shoots tethered because you’ll feel much more comfortable and confident in the images you’re getting.

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