Should You Take Headshots Inside Or Outside?

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Headshots are immensely important. They serve as your first impression for jobs, acting gigs, social media, your website, and more. You want to ensure people get that initial take correct when deciding whether to engage with you. That’s the hard part! So, let’s assume you found a photographer to work with. Now for the logistics – where to take headshots? Inside or outside? It may seem trivial, but your headshot location can make a big difference now and in the future. So how do you decide where to take them? In this post, I’ll walk through a series of questions to help you determine if you should take your headshots inside or outside, as well as a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of on-location vs studio shooting.

atlanta urban actor headshot

Use These Questions to Decide Where To Take Your Headshots

Are these headshots for you or your team?

If your headshots are just for you, you can go either way. For team headshots, I recommend indoors because you know the background will look the same. Trees and nature look different every year – and if you want a cohesive look, you’ll want the background to match for your team headshots.

Are your headshots for a website or brand that has specific design aesthetics?

If your headshot is for a brand or website that has a specific design language, you’ll want to pick a backdrop that aligns with where your headshot is going. If it’s an outdoor hiking website, you should take your headshot outside, but if it is going on a marketing company’s website, a studio-style headshot may be more appropriate.

Do you need to capture multiple outfits and looks in the same session?

If you want to get two or three outfits and a few different lighting options in a single photographic session, then I recommend taking your headshots inside. You’ll have places to change clothes, and your photographer will have access to more equipment and background or backdrop options.

Are there industry norms and requirements for headshots?

If you’re a doctor or lawyer, it’s more likely your headshots will need to be done inside compared to someone in construction who may want a building or job site backdrop. From my experience, specific fields tend to have similar headshots, so keep that in mind for your headshot location. Additionally, if you’re an actor, remember the character you’re auditioning for! An astronaut will have a different background than a farmer.

How quickly do you need your headshots delivered?

Headshots taken inside or in a studio tend to be faster/easier to retouch. That means faster delivery times. Outdoor headshots can require more retouching because of numerous factors not experienced in a studio: background cleanup, stray hair removal due to wind, rosy cheek reduction if it was cold out, and more! If you need your headshots delivered quickly after the session, take them inside! Additionally, shooting outside has the risk of bad weather forcing you to reschedule, which could interfere with your delivery timeline.

Is time of day or scheduling a factor?

If your schedule is packed, and you can only shoot early in the morning on a Tuesday, then I’d recommend getting your headshot taken in a studio. The lighting in a studio will look the same no matter the time of day or year! You won’t have to worry about whether it’ll be bright enough to capture your headshots or if a random rainstorm will force you to reschedule. 

atlanta corporate headshot photographer Mike Glatzer

Is privacy important?

Shooting headshots outside is convenient because it’s free! The downside is that free spaces typically have other bystanders milling around. If you’re self-conscious, hate getting your picture taken, or just don’t like the extra attention, I recommend getting your headshots taken inside. You’ll have more control over who is in the room and the amount of distractions.

Is real-time collaboration important?

Some photographers shoot headshots tethered, meaning they connect their cameras directly to their computers or tablets. This means you can review your images on a much larger scale vs the 3×2” screen on the back of the camera, live during the session. I’m a massive proponent of tethered headshot sessions because they allow my clients to see their images as we go and make suggestions, ensuring they leave with exactly the photos they want. While it’s possible to shoot tethered outside, it’s much easier and more common for photographers to shoot tethered headshots inside.

Is easy bathroom access necessary?

Take your headshots inside!

Want to photograph multiple outfits?

Take your headshots inside! Studios will have spaces to change clothes and mirrors so you can check that you always look great.

Pros and Cons of Taking Headshots Inside Vs. Outside

Inside

Pros of Headshots Inside

  • Clean backgrounds
  • Easy to replicate at a later date for companies
  • Weather is not a factor
  • Can shoot any time of day
  • No prying eyes – it’s just you and the photographer
  • Rooms to change clothes
  • Easy bathroom access
  • Ability to review and select your headshots immediately

Cons of Inside Headshots

  • Looks the same as every other headshot
  • Studio rental fee
  • You’ll likely need to travel to the studio
  • Headshots look flashed
  • Must stand in one exact place

Outside

Pros of Outside Headshots

  • Unique background
  • Character and context for your headshot
  • Convenience
  • Natural light
  • Can easily move around

Cons of Headshots Outside

  • Limited to certain times of day
  • Unpredictable weather can require reschedules
  • Busy locations with bystanders
  • Messy backgrounds are more challenging to edit
  • Outdoor backgrounds can be distracting
  • Team photos will look different, even within the same day
  • You will need time after the session to proof your images, AKA a longer turnaround time

Final Thoughts

I always recommend chatting with your headshot photographer when determining the look and logistics of your headshots. They’ll often bring up details that you never considered! Leverage their expertise and recommendations to help you get the best headshots possible. And if you ever need inspiration, check out Pinterest or do a Google Image search to see what others are doing to get ideas!

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