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Shades of Success: The Pros and Cons of Black-and-White Professional Headshots

Have you ever wondered about when a monochromatic headshot is appropriate for professional use? I'm Austen Hunter, a seasoned headshot photographer who understands the profound impact a well-crafted headshot can have on one's career journey. Through years of honing my craft, I've seen how the right image can unlock doors to myriad opportunities. In this discourse, I delve into the age-old debate of black-and-white versus color headshots, offering you insights to help you make an informed decision for your professional imagery needs

Table of Contents:

Are black and white professional headshots okay to use? Pros and Cons of a B&W Headshot

The Importance of Professional Headshots in the Business World

Have you ever heard the phrase "you never get a second chance to make a first impression?" When it comes to the business world, this statement is especially true. Research has shown that people will judge whether to trust you or not within 100 milliseconds of exposure to your face. Your professional headshot serves as your first point of contact with potential clients, employers, and business partners.

It's no wonder that companies invest time and money into ensuring their employees' headshots are high-quality and represent their brand. Not only do professional headshots convey a sense of professionalism, but they also help establish trust and credibility.

People are more likely to do business with someone if they can see their face, as it creates a personal connection. Plus, having a polished headshot on your LinkedIn or company website can increase your chances of getting hired or attracting new clients.

Are Black-and-White Professional Headshots Okay to Use?

Now that we've established the importance of professional headshots, let's talk about whether black-and-white photos are acceptable in today's business world. Some people might think that black-and-white photos are outdated or too traditional for modern industries.

However, black-and-white photos have been around for over a century and still hold up as timeless classics. The debate over color vs. black-and-white photos largely depends on personal preference and industry norms. While some industries may prefer color photos for branding purposes (such as marketing or advertising), others may prefer classic black-and-white shots (such as law firms or academia).

So the question remains: should you use a black-and-white photo for your professional headshot? Let's delve into both sides in more detail.

Are black and white professional headshots okay to use? Pros and Cons of a B&W Headshot

The Pros of Black-and-White Headshots

Do you want to present yourself as a timeless professional? If so, black-and-white headshots may be for you.

They can add an air of sophistication and class to your overall image. These types of photos are often associated with a more traditional and formal approach, making them perfect for industries such as law or finance.

Another benefit of using black-and-white headshots is that they can be more flattering than color photos. Colors can sometimes be distracting, drawing attention away from the person in the photo.

Black-and-white photos, on the other hand, minimize these distractions and focus entirely on facial features. This makes it easier for viewers to see your face clearly and take note of the important details that make you stand out.

In addition to this, black-and-white headshots have a way of emphasizing texture and contrast in the photo. The lack of color allows for shadows and highlights to be more pronounced, adding depth to the photo.

This makes it easier for viewers to see small details like wrinkles or fine lines on your face, which can give them a better sense of who you are as a person. So if you're looking for an approachable yet professional look that will stand the test of time, consider choosing a black-and-white headshot when creating your personal brand image.

The Cons of Black-and-White Headshots

  • Color is Important for Branding Purposes

While black-and-white headshots may have a timeless and classic feel, using them in the wrong industry could be a classic headshot mistake. For example, if you work in the fashion or beauty industry, a black-and-white headshot may not fit the aesthetic of your brand. Using a color headshot would better represent your brand and attract potential clients or customers.

Similarly, if you work in a creative field such as graphic design or advertising, it might be expected that your headshot showcases your creativity and personality through the use of vibrant colors. In such cases, using a black-and-white headshot would not only be inappropriate but also could potentially undermine your credibility in the eyes of potential employers or clients.

  • It May Not Accurately Represent Your Skin Tone or Hair Color

Another disadvantage of using black-and-white headshots is that they may not accurately represent your skin tone or hair color. While this might seem like a minor issue at first glance, it can make all the difference in how people perceive you online.

For instance, if you have dark skin and hair and choose to use a black-and-white photo, it might appear as though you have lighter skin and hair than you actually do. This could lead to confusion among potential employers or clients who might expect someone with different physical attributes than what you actually possess.

Table 1: Pros and Cons of Black-and-White Headshots


Black-and-White Headshot

Color Headshot

Aesthetic Appeal

Timeless, Sophisticated

Modern, Vibrant

Industry Suitability

Law, Finance

Marketing, Advertising


Facial Features

Overall Appearance




Overall, while there are certainly some benefits to using black-and-white professional headshots - particularly if you work in traditional industries such as finance or law - it's important to consider these potential downsides before making your final decision. Taking into account industry norms and personal preferences when choosing between color and black-and-white photos can help ensure that your professional image accurately reflects who you are as an individual while still meeting the expectations of those around you.

How to Choose Between Color and Black-and-White Headshots

  • Consider Industry Norms

When deciding between black-and-white and color headshots, one important factor to consider is industry norms. Some industries may have specific preferences or requirements for the type of photo used. For example, creative industries such as advertising may prefer more vibrant and colorful headshots to showcase creativity, while more traditional industries such as law or finance may lean towards classic black-and-white photos.

It's important to research industry standards before deciding on a photo type. However, it's also important to note that while industry norms can be helpful in guiding your choice, they shouldn't dictate it entirely.

Ultimately, your headshot should accurately represent you and your personal brand. So if you feel strongly about using a certain type of photo despite industry norms, go with what feels authentic to you.

  • Personal Preference

Another key aspect to consider when choosing between black-and-white and color headshots is personal preference. You want a photo that makes you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin - after all, this photo will represent you professionally for some time. Think about which colors make you feel most confident - do blues evoke feelings of calmness? Do oranges bring out your creative side? Choosing a colored headshot can allow for greater representation of individual personality traits that may not shine through in a black-and-white portrait.

Similarly, if you love the classic look of old Hollywood films or enjoy vintage aesthetics then black-and-white photography may be the right choice for you. Ultimately the choice between color and black-and-white comes down to what makes YOU feel comfortable and confident in your professional image.

  • Brand Identity

Your personal brand identity plays an important role when choosing between black-and-white or color headshots. Consider how the chosen photograph will fit into the overall aesthetic of your brand - does it align with your brand's values and messaging? For example, if your personal brand is centered around minimalism and simplicity, a black-and-white photo may be more fitting than a colorful one.

"Color in a headshot can be a narrative, telling the story of your brand." - Austen Hunter

Alternatively, if your personal brand is known for being bold and vibrant, then a bright and colorful photo may work better. Make sure the chosen photo matches the overall aesthetic of your brand so it can help enhance rather than detract from it.

Table 2: Choosing Between Black-and-White and Color Headshots



Industry Norms

Some industries may have specific preferences or requirements

Personal Brand

What message you want to convey

Aesthetic Preference

Your personal or brand's aesthetic preference

There are many factors to consider when choosing between black-and-white or color headshots including industry norms, personal preference, and brand identity. Ultimately the decision should be based on what makes you feel confident and authentic as well as what best represents your professional image.

Are black and white professional headshots okay to use? Pros and Cons of a B&W Headshot

Frequently Asked Questions about Black and White Headshots

Q: Are black-and-white headshots outdated?

A: No, they are considered timeless and suitable for certain traditional industries like law and finance.

Q: What are the advantages of black-and-white headshots?

Q: In which scenario should I consider a color headshot?

Q: How should I choose between black-and-white and color headshots?

Final Thoughts: To Go Black-and-White or Not?

In conclusion, the decision between black-and-white and color headshots ultimately depends on your industry, personal preferences, and brand identity. Black-and-white headshots can convey sophistication and timelessness, making them ideal for traditional industries. On the contrary, color headshots can showcase your vibrant personality and align with industries that emphasize creative expression.

Whatever your choice, confidence is essential! Your headshot should instill self-assurance and make a lasting impression. To ensure your professional image is captured to perfection, consider booking your next headshot session with Austen Hunter Photography. My experienced team is committed to helping you shine, creating a headshot that truly represents your unique personality and career aspirations.



Austen Hunter Photography is a photographer based in Pensacola, Florida who specializes in family beach photography, military portrait photography and professional headshot in a bold and clean style. Austen Hunter has been locally recognized and internationally published . He uses a variety of both natural light and off-camera flash to capture images. People usually book Austen for outdoor portrait sessions or sessions conducted at his home studio.

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Chelsea, Headshot Client

"Wonderful experience! Wanted an updated headshot and Austen and Sarah were amazing. The studio was clean and incredibly nice, Sarah even provided blotting pads to help with shininess I had during photo shoot. 10/10 recommend to anyone wanting to get a photo taken! Thank you again!"


Tammy, Headshot Client

"We are so glad that we found Austen. He did a wonderful job providing us with quality headshot photographs. He made us feel comfortable and gave us good suggestions for posing. We look forward to working with him again in the future!"


Daryl, Beach Client

"Austen and his team were amazing! They were able to capture exactly what we wanted for our engagement pictures and also provided us a tent to change clothes. I would highly recommend him and I would definitely use him again."

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