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6 Awesome Headshot Background Ideas

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These days everyone needs some form of a headshot. Most clients also want one that’s unique. In many cases, you might do more of a professional portrait than a traditional headshot.

This means that the background becomes even more important!

Here are six types of backgrounds that you can use for professional portraits and headshots. And most of these are free!

1. Solid Black or White Backdrop

A headshot of a younf\g man against a black background - headshot backgrounds

We’ll start with the most traditional, which is a solid color backdrop. This is also the only one that requires any sort of investment. But there are ways to keep the costs down.

A plain solid background, whether white or black, is the most traditional option. This often is ideal for clients with corporate jobs. They may require the backdrop to be plain and of a certain color.

Often, this is for large corporations or law firms.

If you do many of these types of headshots, it’s worth considering investing in one or two rolled backdrops and stands. This way you’ll have the gear handy for your shoots.

If you’re testing the waters or if it’s a departure from your usual work, renting may be a better option for you!

Renting gear, even backdrops, and stands will save you from making the full investment. 

2. Textured or Solid Wall

A corporate headshot of a female against a solid wall - headshot background ideasOne of the easiest things to look for when doing headshots or professional portraits is a good wall. Brick walls are a classic backdrop and provide some color, texture, and lines.

Other types of walls, though, can be wonderful portrait backgrounds! A concrete wall offers lovely subtle texture and a neutral grey. A solid wall offers the neutrality of a plain backdrop. But it still allows you to use natural lighting.

Painted brick is also wonderful. It offers the texture of brick with more neutral colors.

Good portrait backdrop walls can be found in any small town or big city! If you aren’t already familiar with where they are, take a walk before your shoot to do a bit of scouting.

Be sure to let your client know that you’ll be doing a bit of walking on your shoot. They’ll know to wear appropriate shoes.

3. Strong Lines or Buildings

A corporate headshot of a female posing in front of architectural buildings - headshot background ideas

Buildings also make great headshot backgrounds, especially if there are strong architectural elements. A row of columns, a wide set of stairs, or a sculptural wall can all be lovely backdrops.

Be sure to use a lower f-stop to blur the background so the lines don’t distract. This technique definitely takes a bit of scouting. That way you can go straight to the interesting buildings.

You want a building or nearby buildings that have several spots with possible backdrops. Look for patterns like columns or strong lines like pathways. These can add great architectural interest to a professional headshot!

4. The Client’s Place of Work

A fun and colorful headshot photo of a woman posing indoors with a small dog

If you’re working with someone that wants to highlight their line of work, consider doing environmental portraits. Environmental portraits or headshots are taken in the location where the action is happening.

For example, a scientist may get their photo taken in the lab where they work. Or perhaps the chef gets photographed in their kitchen.

The idea is that the backdrop tells you more about what the person does professionally.

The location should be one that you’ve been to before. This way you can be familiar with the light. Also, be sure to let your client know that they may need to get permission from their superiors to get photos taken in their place of work.

If you’re hoping to use these photos in your portfolio or social media, don’t forget to request a property release. That will give you the rights to show the final images.

5. Nature

Bright and airy headshot photo of a female model outdoors

Taking a walk through nature can offer lots of possible backgrounds for headshots! This option would most likely not be a good fit for someone with a corporate job. But it could be ideal for many others.

Shoot with a low f-stop so the background is blurred and creates a soft blend of greens and flower colors. Look for open shade, and let your client know that there will be some walking on uneven surfaces.

The best thing about this option is that you probably already have several nature spots in your area that you love and would work well!

6. A Colorful Wall or Interesting Mural

Casual headshot photo of a female model posing by a fence outdoors - headshot backgrounds ideas

For those clients looking for an option full of color and with an urban twist, a lively mural is ideal. If you explore the center of your town or some of the trendy neighborhoods in your city, chances are good that you’ll find murals of all sorts.

Be sure to explore alleyways and the sides of store buildings. Murals are often tucked away in discreet parts of the neighborhood!

Chances are you’ll only see a small section of the mural. They can provide strong colorful portrait backdrops that can pair beautifully with creative professionals.

Conclusion

The term “headshots” has come to include all sorts of professional portraits these days. The photoshoot background that you use is more important than ever.

Be sure to talk with your client to see if they have ideas or preferences, and then explore the possibilities!

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