What is the Best Background for a Professional Headshot?


The best backgrounds for headshots help separate and highlight your face. They are subtle, not distracting and help you pop off of the page. There are 5 main options for a professional headshot which I provide for your headshots.

Professional Headshot on medium gray background
Professional Headshot on light gray background

Let’s start with my favorite: the medium gray background. I shoot most of my headshots with medium gray, usually with a slight blue undertone. Gray is neutral, and helps provides contrast with the subject. It can be varied between a light gray to a dark gray depending on hair color, or the desired mood of the headshot.

Professional Headshot on White Background

White has a classic, upbeat, professional feel. Many company websites prefer the white background. However, when you use the white background on a website or social media profile with a white theme, the white blends in with the website, and you may end up with a “floating” head. For this reason, I recommend a non-white background for most uses.

Professional Headshot on Black Background

Black is definitely a more moody option, and works better with more serious expressions. For people with darker hair, black is usually not recommended as hair can get lost in the background. Black may be a great option for a particular character role for an actor, or perhaps a model going for a particular vibe.

Professional headshot with environmental
Professional headshot with office background

Environmental backgrounds can be a little tricky for headshots. Clients like having an environmental background to give the photos a sense of place. However, there is little of the background showing in a headshot for most crop options, so bright spots or busy backgrounds can bring in unwanted distractions. The one exception is the banner crop like the one below where the head is to one side with the environmental background filling the negative space.

Professional headshot with medium blue background
Professional Headshot with maroon background
Professional Headshot on warm background

Color can add some pop to your headshot which can make you stand out on a page of other headshots. This may be the desired effect for an actor or a social media post. Colors need to be carefully chosen to coordinate with your clothing, hair, eyes, and complexion. For this reason, it is better for team or office headshots to stick with a neutral gray or white. But for individuals that want to add a splash of color, we can definitely play around with various backgrounds to capture your mood or match your brand.

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