Pro Style Tips: Choosing the Best Headshot Backgrounds for Professional Portraits

You can’t take your headshot photo just anywhere. It needs to be in a setting or scene that displays your personality. Here are some headshot backgrounds to try.

According to professional photographer Jorge Rocha, “Everything from a perceived intelligence level to social status can be conveyed through a headshot.”

One essential aspect of a professional headshot is the background. The standards for headshot backgrounds vary per profession.

Though, there is some room for personal preference when it comes to choosing the background for your headshots.

For example, corporate headshots often feature a plain white or gray background. The point of the background is to look pleasing but be subtle enough to keep the focus where it should be, on the subject.

Here are some common headshot backgrounds.

White Headshots Background

Plain white is the standard professional business portrait background. As mentioned, most corporate headshots require it.

The white is complementary to any skin tone and is a good contrast against any color business suit or other attire. Both men and women shoot well against a white background.

Also, a pure white background is the best for online viewing. Many times, a person’s first view of a headshot is the thumbnail version. An all-white background makes it easier to see and remember your face.

Black as a Background for Headshots

Black or a dark color also works well for headshots background. The dark color doesn’t attract attention. It keeps the viewer’s focus on the subject’s face because that is the brightest part of the image.

Dark Grey Background

Dark-grey is an option that is almost as standard as white. Often, business suits are a shade of grey. The result is a very complementary grey-on-grey effect. The headshots background is muted.

And, like the black background, the subject’s face is the brightest part of the photo. So, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the face.

For examples of classic white, back and gray backgrounds, see

There, you’ll see how these backgrounds look with different subjects of various ages, gender, and ethnicities/skin tones.

Brick Wall Background

A brick wall doesn’t work well as a professional photo background if you need a corporate headshot. Though, if you’re in another field such as marketing or the arts, a little extra style may be the way to go.

If your background is an actual brick wall, then you have the added benefit of natural light to enhance the photo.

Even if it’s an artificial backdrop in a studio, the effect is still good. Most likely, your photographer will stage the shot so that the brick is out of focus, keeping the focus on your image.

Natural Headshot Backgrounds

If the natural setting appeals to you, then you may opt for a natural background. Any number of settings will do, whether it’s at the beach or a park with typical bushes and trees.

Again, the photographer will position you so that the background doesn’t distract attention away from the subject. He or she may also take some creative license and angle the shot in ways other than straight as you usually see headshots.

Beyond the Background

Headshot backgrounds are part of a comprehensive package. You and your photographer will work together to shoot the best headshot for you. You take it from there.

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