Is preparing for a headshot stressing you out? What to wear? How to pose? All these questions are legitimate concerns, but there’s another you may not have thought of — should your headshot be in color or black and white? If you have an upcoming photoshoot and need to make decisions about your professional headshots, here’s what you should know.
History of Headshot Photography
A little background on headshot photography might give you some insight into your own photograph. The headshot was made famous by Hollywood, used by casting directors to find actors suitable for their roles. The headshot included a classic head and shoulder pose, with an emphasis on facial features. The background was usually plain, so the actor’s face was the focus of the picture.
With the advent of color photography, black and white headshots went by the wayside. Digital shots were sharper, and color accuracy brought the person’s features to life. Today, headshots aren’t just for actors. Many professionals need a custom headshot for their business website, resume, or marketing profile. Lawyers, dentists, and accountants regularly seek professional photographers to enhance their business marketing plan.
Headshots are so important for business websites as they tell the story of your office. It’s the client’s first introduction to you, and a great headshot can easily provide more business. It’s also a simple way to show off your brand — whether you’re down to earth and business casual or buttoned up and super professional, headshots can get that message across instantly.
Can headshots be Black & White?
While black and white headshots can be artistic and contemporary, it might not be the best option for your primary headshot, and here’s why. Whether you’re trying to get a job as an actor or working to bring more clients into your office, a color photo is a true representation of yourself. If casting directors are looking for specifics like hair color or eye color, a black and white photo doesn’t necessarily give the whole story, but a pure color headshot will.
The same thing for clients looking for a new dentist or lawyer — if they see a color headshot, they know exactly what to expect when they see you in person, it’s almost like they know you when they first meet you. A black and white photo can’t give that same level of familiarity.
Now, that’s not to say black and white photos shouldn’t be used at all. If you keep a portfolio for your business and have various headshots, including a black and white one is a great idea for a different perspective, but use your black and white photos sparingly. Other businesses may use black and white as part of their branding or marketing ideas. In this case, it might make sense to keep the black and white trend with headshots.
The bottom line is that headshots should be a true representation of yourself and the business you represent. Color photos seem to do that better than black and white.
No matter what you decide, it’s important to keep up with the photos. If your appearance changes, your headshot should too. That means if you gain or lose weight, drastically change your hair or facial hair, your headshot should represent that. Actors may need to do this more frequently than other business professionals but considering this photo is part of your brand, it’s important to keep in mind.