News & Updates

Foundation U: Features of a Great Artist Headshot

Clayton Spangler | October, 2017

We are all familiar with the adage, “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” Within seconds of viewing your headshot, people will make a number of assumptions about your level of professionalism, how skilled you are at your art form, and what it will be like to conduct business with you. In the blink of an eye, a professional image nets you respect, gains you recognition, and acts as the gateway to successfully selling your work. Having a professional headshot is the first step toward creating your personal brand. Be sure to give your online “first impression” as much thought as you give in-person business interactions.

Choosing a Photographer

The good news is it no longer takes a huge investment of time or money to hire someone to take a professional headshot. Ask a fellow artist for the name of their favorite photographer, or do a quick Google search to find a talented photographer in your community.

Preparing for the Shoot

  • Love what you’re wearing – It will show through in your facial expressions.
  • Be yourself.
  • Smile and be confident – you are making a first impression and want to look friendly and approachable.
  • Make sure your environment connects with what you make.

Elements of a Great Headshot

The following images of successful West Virginia-based creative business owners illustrate the power of a great headshot. Look for these elements when choosing images to represent you and your work.

  • Use clean, professional quality, sharp focused images that convey what you do without using words. This studio shot lets the viewer quickly see Matt is a wood worker with a very tidy studio!

Matt Thomas


  • Be sure your head shot is up to date. Remember, you want your customer to easily be able to recognize you no matter where they happen to see you.

David Shombert


  • Make sure the person in the image looks professional, approachable and competent.

Rebecca Williamson


For more information about image resolutions, hiring a professional photographer and tips for taking your own head shot, visit the Tamarack Foundation for the Arts Resource Library.


About the Author

Clayton Spangler is Chair of the Tamarack Artisan Advisory Board and a professional photographer based out of Charleston, West Virginia.

Find more »  About Tamarack Foundation U

As part of Tamarack Foundation U, the Tamarack Foundation team dives deep into a training topic for three months – covering a wide variety of angles through blog posts, webinars, Q&A’s with experts, articles added to the Resource Library, and more. Join our email list as an Artist to keep up with these efforts.