Researchers Identify Key Characteristics for Business Photos

A good headshot photographer already knows how to get the best out of their subjects to create great photos for use on social media profiles and business websites. But sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly what it is that the client needs to do to create those images. Or what they should wear. Or how they should look.

But now there is some interesting research that has identified some of the key characteristics of great business headshots and has even gone so far as to quantify how those characteristics can influence the ratings of perceived Competence, Likability, and Influence.

Key Characteristics of a Great Headshot

You can see a complete infographic below with all of the results of the study. As a very brief summary of the results, the following factors must be considered in order to create a great business portrait:


  • Direct Eye Contact and wearing Eyeglasses increases the perception of Competence
  • A slight squint improves ratings in all categories, particularly Influence
  • Smiling (with teeth visible) leads to the best overall scores, especially Likeability
  • Wearing a formal outfit dramatically increases Competence and Influence scores


  • Wearing sunglasses dramatically reduces Likability ratings
  • Not smiling at all results in severe negative ratings for every category, particularly likability

No Impact

  • Setting (Studio vs Nature, Urban, etc.) is personal choice with no impact on scores

Study Results Infographic

The research team at Photofeeler created an infographic summarizing all of the results of the study:

The Perfect Profile Photo Infographic

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