Some people are drawn to the idea of having a well-known landmark in the background of their outdoor professional headshots when they are first looking at their options. Taking a picture of a cute animal is fine, but a messy or unattractive background can quickly ruin your shot. I used to come home from a shoot with a bunch of photos and find that many of them were good, but I had to throw them away because the background made them useless. The point is that you should pay attention to more than just the subject in the foreground of your picture.
Most people would think it’s a bad idea if they saw a famous person, a politician, or a business leader with a similar picture.
Business headshots with city or state capitals, bridges, or buildings in the background are common, but are they right for you?
Well, it depends. But I think the answer is “no.”
Reason #1: Most headshots are cropped as squares.
The most obvious reason you don’t want a landmark in the background of your headshots is that most places for headshots (business cards, LinkedIn profiles, email profiles, etc.) require a square crop.So, because the crop is close, your photographer must put the landmark right behind your head to get the shot.
So, you’ll put the landmark on your head like a hat…
If you have a place where you can put a wider-cropped photo, a landmark can make a great background.We also take pictures like that, but they’re not really “headshots”—they’re “business portraits.”
Reason #2: Landmarks are often taller than you are.
If you can’t take the picture from a helicopter or the top of a tall building, you’ll usually have to tilt the camera to get the whole landmark in the frame.
Most people look best when the camera is held between their mouth and their eyes and tilted slightly downward.For example, if you have a double chin that you want to hide or hide less, the worst angle is to shoot up. So, if you have to tilt the camera up so that a landmark fits in the background, the photo will not look good.
You might like that angle if you have a strong jawline. It can make the person look heroic because the viewer looks up at them.But many people would rather look a bit slimmer, so scheduling a headshot near a landmark is a waste of energy. You’ll like the photos tilted down (so the floor is in the background) better anyway.
#3: Landmarks are a distraction
Does this picture show you or the place?
A landmark in your photo is a distraction and may make you appear to be playing second fiddle to a building unrelated to your industry or profession.
If you own the building, run the building, or work in a nearby hotel that uses the building, it might be okay.While a “blurry city” background is popular and effective, it will most likely be a distraction if you want to include a specific recognizable landmark.
However, you probably can leave that structure out of your headshot. A banner at the top of your website would be a better place for that kind of picture.You’ll crop the landmark out of your LinkedIn profile photo or business card anyway. So, why bother with people, wind, or other things that might hinder your shoot?
Reason #4: Getting good lighting on both you and a landmark is twice as hard.
Getting the right lighting that looks good on you is not easy. This is one reason we take at least 20 photos in each session and, in most cases, more than 40.
No matter how skilled the photographer is, it is easier to make you and the landmark look good in a headshot than to make only one look good.The light that works for your face may be too bright or dark for the landmark. You likely won’t look good in a shot showing how big the landmark is.
So, if you want to look your best, you should pay attention to the light in your room.
—It’s great to take a picture of a cute animal, but a messy or unattractive background can quickly ruin the picture. I used to come home from a shoot with a bunch of photos and find that many of them were good, but I had to throw them away because the background made them useless. The point is that you should pay attention to more than just the subject in the foreground of your picture.
In conclusion, we suggest a separate shoot from your headshot if you want a professional photo with a local or otherwise important landmark.If you want to use a landmark, you should probably take the photo against a solid white background and add the background later in editing. You can make these photos look great with some editing, and it’s even better that you won’t have to deal with crowds or lighting that’s twice as hard to capture.