How to take a professional headshot in Manchester

What is a headshot?

I’ve been a headshot photographer in Manchester for 20 years. You can see what we do here. It’s not an easy thing to buy and the quality of service varies, so here’s how to get better professional head shots,  how photographers work and how we charge our rates for company headshots.

Photograph of solicitor headshot

Office context style headshot.

How to take a good headshot

We take almost all of our professional headshots at clients’ offices. There’s no intimidating photography studio. It saves you time and you can still get work done. Some clients and their marketing team know exactly what they want, how we work and they may even have a style guide – that’s great.  But lots of clients have no idea of how to get the best from the session so here are two critical things we need:

  1. We need plenty of space. This is the best set-up – a large empty space of approx 5meter square. That gives room for a large colorama backdrop and the lights. Ideally it would have a high ceiling. The key thing is not to try and do it in a tiny room as it affects the quality that we can deliver.
A mobile photographers portrait studio

Our mobile portrait studio on location at a Manchester office.

2.     The room should not be overlooked. Most people feel uncomfortable having their company headshots done, at least initially. With time though even the most nervous can be put at ease – but this is made much harder if their colleagues are all watching. Sounds obvious but we are often asked to shoot in an open-plan office and we simply won’t do it as it never, ever yields lovely portraits.

head shot portraits photographer

Corporate head shots from our Manchester studio at your office.

Gallery of headshot portraits

Commercial head shot portraits by Jon Parker Lee

What do you charge for headshots and how many files do we get?

“How much will it cost for our headshot portraits?” “What do the charges include?” Very important questions as it’s not a common purchase for most businesses and rates differ wildly. Photographers vary in how they charge for portrait sessions. Some charge per person, some cost it by the actual number of shots supplied.

Commercial head shot Photographer

Modern, clean head shot studio portraits at your office by Manchester-based photographer Jon Parker Lee Photography Ltd.

Our headshot rates simple and clear – we bill by the hour, half day and day. In your booked time we will get as many people shot as possible and we’ll give you a fixed price when you confirm numbers and what quality of service you require. Normally we shoot anywhere between four and twelve people per hour. That’s a big difference. Why? Quite simply you’ll get more shots and of a higher quality if we have 15min with each subject…and they can look through the images and choose what works when we have the time…but we’re happy to rattle through teams and still get nice, clean portraits with just a few mins each.

Corporate headshot portrait photographers

Headshot photographer in Manchester FAQ’s –

Some tips for subjects on the day

Aside from trying to help the client booking portraits we want to share a few pointers for subjects who will be ‘sitting’ for their portrait.

What to wear for headshots photograph

Simple is best. Wear what you’re comfortable in and what makes you happy. A block of colour is nice. Most clients want a white background – if that’s the case then please try and avoid a white shirt / blouse as it can make you looked washed out. Likewise, a collar or jacket can help frame the body and give you good lines. A lot of people arrive for the session and get worried that they don’t like their bare arms showing…so bring a jacket or similar and try some different things…I can’t hide you arms or shoulders. Think ahead and give yourself some choice on the day. It’s very subjective…if in doubt bring a few items and see what you like best. I say the same for ties (where they’re still worn)…maybe do a couple of frames with and without…we don’t put a limit on the number of images so give yourself some choice.

Make up

Less is more without a doubt. Simple matting of the skin and definition of eyes and lips is all you need. If you go big with the foundation or concealer it really jumps out on a high-definition, detailed photograph. A bit of matting is best as the lights will do a great job of softening and flattering the skin anyway. The more make up you apply the more it glares and sheens under the lights. On TV they generally just use a nice matting lotion like MAC I tend to carry matting pads and will ask a subject to dampen any sheen if they’re hot or the makeup is glaring. Oh, and avoid heavy tan products too – you might feel great with a bit of colour but you’ll often stand out when in a montage with colleagues on your website…honestly, less is more.


I want you to look your best and go away with photos that you’re happy to represent you in your professional life. So if you want to try a few things with the hair during our session then go for it. I generally say, ‘do you want to try it on and off the shoulders, tied-up, etc. And I tend to carry a mirror so that you have time to tweek and get it looking right. Take comfort though, as I say with skin above, the lights really do make hair look lovely and lustrous.

See more of our different styles of portraits for news and PR here 

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