How to Take a Professional Headshot With an iPhone

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Photo Source: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

As any aspiring performer knows, a headshot that reflects your unique look, personality, and professionalism is vital to getting ahead in the biz. While your best option is always hiring a professional photographer, financial constraints and other circumstances might mean you need to turn to a DIY option. (Hey, if a critically acclaimed movie like ”Tangerine” can be shot on an iPhone, there’s no reason the same device can’t be used to take some attention-grabbing headshots!) Here’s how to take your own headshot using your phone’s camera.

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Have the right gear

Woman holding four iPhone 14sFramesira/Shutterstock

To capture the perfect headshot with a phone, you’ll want a device with depth cameras, which capture the intricate depth information ideal for detailed portraits. Phones with this type of camera include:

  • iPhone 12 and higher
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • Sony Xperia 1 IV 
  • Google Pixel 4

Create your ideal setup

Man posing in front of a phone with ring lightTanitJuno/Shutterstock

The first step to taking a headshot with your iPhone is having the right setup, including lighting, backdrop, and a tripod.

Lighting

Natural lighting is always your best bet, so if there’s any way you can access it for your DIY headshots, shine on. Alternatively, you can use a key light (which illuminates from the front) and a fill light (which lights from the side) to emphasize your face without any distracting shadows. Another option is a ring light, a circular light that sits around your camera lens and offers diffused, soft light while reducing harsh shadows. Remember to avoid overhead lighting and the dreaded backlighting. 

Backdrop

Choose a neutral place to take your photos, with nothing distracting behind you. Portrait mode on the iPhone is the easiest way to blur the background and make your headshot look more professional. Apps like Focos, Headshot Camera for Portraits, MyHeadshots Professional, and even FaceTune allow you to create a blank slate background that doesn’t detract from your face—just be sure to avoid the urge to apply filters if you go with the latter. 

Tripod

While you can always ask a friend to take your photos, a tripod is the best way to get a quality headshot from just the right angle. Look for adjustable tripods suitable for your phone type.

Put your best face forward

Headshot photographyDulin/Shutterstock

You want your headshot to showcase the very best version of yourself. While it might be tempting to follow the lead of Titus Andromedon from “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and dress up as a lollipop-wielding baby or dinosaur safari adventurer for your acting headshots, it’s best to aim for simplicity. Wrinkle-free clothes in solid colors, simple hair and makeup, and good posture are all necessary for a great headshot.

How to take a professional DIY headshot with your phone in seven steps

Taking a headshot with a phoneRommel Canlas/Shutterstock

  1. Set up your phone: Put your phone in the tripod holder. Whether you’re standing or sitting, keep the phone lens at approximately the same height as your lips. The camera should be pointed directly at your face—no tilting—and be sure to use the back lens for optimum quality.
  2. Light it up: If you’re not using natural light, place the lighting about two feet away, with the majority of light coming from slightly above you. If you’re using a ring light, set it about two feet away with the phone in the center of the light.
  3. Set your camera’s timer: Open your phone’s camera app and select either “Photo” or “Portrait” from the options. Then set the timer: Tap the ^ button at the top of the screen to open an additional menu of options beneath the frame. Click the clock/stopwatch icon to open the timer, then select “10s.” This will give you 10 seconds after you hit the shutter to get into position and relax a bit. Finally, hit the shutter button to start the clock.
  4. Get in place: Stand or sit approximately three feet away from the phone. Your body should be angled slightly away from the camera, with your head turned to face it directly. Gaze at the camera with a gentle smile and give it your best professional performer. If you find it difficult to pose without someone directing you, check out our guide to headshot poses
  5. Shoot your shot: One of the perks of shooting headshots on your phone is that you can take as many pictures as you want and adjust along the way. Take a look at your results between shots and change up your position, angle, expression, and look as needed. Your final headshot(s) should have your head in the middle of the frame; a friendly expression; and a blank or neutral background and clothing. It should also be in focus without any distracting shadows or too-bright lighting.
  6. Edit: Now that you’ve chosen the best shot, it’s time to edit. Crop the photo following framing best practices—use the rule of thirds to keep your eyes, nose, and mouth perfectly composed. Many headshot apps will provide a rule of thirds aspect ratio, or you can use the grid that is built into your iPhone camera. Play with the color, contrast, and shadows until the edited headshot shows the best version of you. Avoid being too heavy-handed with edits; casting directors want to see the real you, not a fake, filtered version.
  7. Export: Export your digital headshot as a .jpeg or .png file with resolution of at least 30 dots per inch (dpi).