Pretty Instant Headshots

Top level:

Our headshot sessions are based on a number of people plus a number of looks each person requires.  In order to optimize these sessions we calculate time based on each lighting change or “Look”.  If 3 people require two looks each, one professional shot indoors and the other outdoors, then in our consult with the client we will ask them to have each member present and ready to be photographed one at a time for each look.  By specifying this we can save time and capture all 3 members in one lighting scenario before moving to the next and completing the rest of the shoot.

Required Equipment:

Additional Payout & Breakdown:

  • Extended 30 minute call time for lighting setup paid at standard hourly rate 
  • +$25 rental for additional lighting (this will be added to your Payable account by Pretty Instant)
  • Per person headshot bonus. (this will be added to your Payable account by Pretty Instant)



You’re a pro. Below is not a step by step guide of photographing headshots, but rather a resource for creating a consistent deliverable for our clients. 

A lot of our headshot sessions take place in user’s offices. We will try to coordinate the location prior to your arrival, however this is not always possible. When you arrive please work with your on-site contact to determine the best location. If you’re shooting in a Breather or a formal studio space, you can read more about that here.

Your gig details will provide you with a basic idea of where the shoot is going to take place. Here are some tips for typical scenarios for Pretty Instant shoots. Good luck - shoot the lights out. 

  *In some cases, it may be necessary to bring a backdrop

General Approach & Tips

Quality of light

  • Use a large soft source to light your subject, positioned camera left or camera right
    • Be mindful of reflections of your strobe in windows and mirrors behind the subject
    • Placing your main light at a slight angle towards your subject helps create direction
  • Softboxes, octabanks, and beauty dishes are all great options

Capture a variety

  • Capture a mix of tight headshots, waist up shots, and full body as well unless otherwise noted
    •  Check the gig details in Nexus for more specifics and special client requests
  • Photograph your subject with a range of expressions - stay open to spontaneity! 


Focal length

  • Capture headshots at 85mm or above
  • Full body? Step back and zoom in
    • It’s important to shoot telephoto as apposed to wide for full body portraits. Photographing wide will result in distortion which will make the client appear a bit bulbous. Taking a few steps back and zooming in helps to flatten the frame and even out proportions.  


  • Light the background separately from the subject, give yourself some breathing room 
  • If the shadows are too dark on your subject, considering bringing in a reflector
  • Use your call time to get everything squared away before the client comes on set

Shoot Type: Environmental

Check your background 

  • Look for clean, non-distracting backgrounds when framing environmental portraits
    • Notice how the image on the left features an airy background which provides a bit of context for the image. It informs the viewer without becoming objectionable or attention-grabbing. With the image on the right, however, the blocky background and painted mural demands attention. It detracts from what would otherwise be a successful headshot.  


Bringing in a reflector

  • Occasionally, a small reflector or piece of foam core comes in handy for bouncing light back into the shadow side of someone’s face. 


Shoot Type: On white or colored backdrops


  • Use a plain white wall as a backdrop or bring your own to set up on location 
    • You’ll know for sure by checking in the gig details of Nexus
  • Make sure your subject is far enough from the background that they don’t blend into it


Above, two large soft sources were used. One 7’ octabank as main light metered at f/8, and another smaller octa raked across the background evenly, metered at f/11.

Run of Show // User’s office or home

  1. Please arrive on location at your specified call time. Address & any additional location information you’ll need can be found in Nexus. 
  2. Meet the client, and work with them to assess the space. From there, get your gear set up and test your light so you’re ready to roll when they step into frame. 
  3. Capture the moment. Shoot the lights out.
  4. Wrap the shoot, break down your equipment, and thank the client. 
  5. As soon as you’re available to, upload the images to us - adding any applicable notes or comments we should know regarding how the shoot went. 

Run of Show // Breather or Studio Space

  1. Please arrive at the Breather location at your specified call time. Directions to find and access your the Breather can be found in Nexus. Your call time should be used to assess the space and test your light so you’re ready to roll when the client arrives. The client will arrive about 20 to 25 minutes into your call time.
  2. Touch base with the client when they arrive regarding their objectives and goals for the shoot. 
  3. Shoot the lights out.
  4. Shooting will wrap up 15 minutes before the Breather reservation ends. Use this time to break down and pack up.
  5. As soon as you’re available to, upload the images to us - adding any applicable notes or comments we should know regarding how the shoot went.

Further Reading

Reply Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
Like Follow
  • 4 yrs agoLast active
  • 1009Views
  • 1 Following


   We created the Pretty Instant community for our customers and team to come together and learn about our service, register for events, and get support from our success team. We'd love to hear from you!

Meet Your Team

  • Jackie

  • Shef 

  • Chris

  • Ben