Replacing Headshot Backgrounds – Can it look genuine??

As professional headshot photographers we specialise in photographing headshots for entire teams. Whether photographed in a single location or many, they should look consistent. Companies often choose a plain white or grey background as a result. Yet, there is another option. Replacing headshot backgrounds with environmental images can look great if done properly.

Environmental Portraits vs Plain Headshot Background

environmental or studio headshots

Grey or white headshots are the corporate headshot standard especially across financial and consultancies. They are professional, traditional and corporate, they can appear impersonal and difficult to relate to.

Environmental portraits by comparison appear more personable and approachable. Many companies are spending an increasing amount making themselves appear more friendly. Yet, they still opt for plain backgrounds. This is because, if they have different locations creating images that look consistent in style can be difficult. 

Replacing Headshot Backgrounds with Environmental Images

Whilst for many companies plain backgrounds remain the perfect choice. Others choose them because they don’t realise there is a choice. By replacing the headshot background it gives clients the best of both. The uniformity of a plain background but approachable like an environmental one. 
When replacing headshot backgrounds we photograph exactly as we would do for a plain background headshot. We then replace the background afterwards in post production. When photographing we also consider how light the background image is that we will be using. This is important because if someone is in a super light office they would have a rim light at the back of their head. If they don’t, it makes the resulting image look unnatural.

Headshot Photography Case Study – Taylor Airey

Taylor Airey are a transport engineering consultancy that we have been working with since 2017. They are a rapidly growing consultancy who wanted their headshots to be approachable and friendly. They also wanted the style not only for the initial people, but for all the new joiners too. We photographed the initial headshots using the iconic Tower Bridge meeting rooms. We also photographed a specific background image for use in the future. 2 years later, new joiners come to our studio in Chiswick and we use the background image to create the same style.

Replacing headshot background
One of these images was photographed on a plain white background. Can you tell which one?

Which Headshot Background to Choose?

Selecting the image to use as the headshot background is up to our client. We have a selection of generic ones that we can use or we can photograph something specific to your company. Examples could include a park, office, skyline or building exterior. We can also photograph a selection of images to use so that images look similar but not identical.

Below is an example of how one image can look using different backgrounds. She works for Taylor Airey so the first image is what we prepared for them. The other images show how it would look using different backgrounds. The image was photographed to be used with a darker background which is why it looks more realistic with the 1st 2 background options. 

Replacing Headshot Backgrounds
Replacing Headshot Backgrounds - Just a few ideas of backgrounds we can use

Headshot Photography Case Study – The Genuine Dining Co.

The Genuine Dining Co. are contract caters in London. They are an amazing company having won both the Cateys Foodservice Caterer award and the UK’s Best Caterer Award. They are definitely a company to watch.  They wanted us to photograph headshots for them that were in keeping with their dynamic branding. We decided on using the environment of one of their London restaurants as the background. You can see all of the headshots on their team page HERE. Every few months they also send new joiners to our studio to be photographed and we insert that same background. 

Here are some of their team headshots. Some were photographed in their restaurant and some in our studio. Can you tell the difference? 

Dynamic Catering Company Headshots
Which ones do you think were photographed in the studio??

We see lots of examples of headshots where a replaced background has been used and they tend to look really fake. This goes against everything you’re trying to achieve. However as the examples above demonstrate they can look very realistic. By selecting the right background image and lighting the headshot in the correct way they can look amazing. 

Replacing headshot backgrounds – How to do it?

To replace the background of a headshot we have to know what background we will be using in the final image. This is because it affects the lighting we use on the person. We photograph people with a lit or unlit plain background behind them. We don’t use a ‘green screen’ because we are often photographing in a clients’ meeting room and getting the lighting correct to avoid green fringing in often limited space would be difficult. Once photographed we remove the white background in post processing (Photoshop) and replace it with the new one. The image below shows a real example of before and after images. 

Before After Unedited Corporate HeadshotCorporate Headshot with Background Replaced

If you would be interested in having us photograph some professional headshots for your company please get in touch on 07810 004451

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  • As we are with BDC and Sue Hill @bdcbethebest @suehilldance this week, it’s perfect timing that Jessica’s #headshots are ready. We love her fierce look in this image (She is absolutely lovely in real life!) More to come!
  • Late night / Early morning prep of the images of the amazing #dancers from Sue Hill Dance @suehilldance and their show at The Bath Forum @theforumbath I ages should be ready to view by first show Friday. There are so so many!!!! #bathforum
  • The calm before the storm!!! Photographing the dress rehearsals of Sue Hill Dance 2020 at the Forum in Bath and the performances tomorrow and Saturday. Going to be a busy few days!!! @suehilldance @bdcbethebest @theforumbath #dance #dancers
  • Last one from Ozzy today. Much more relaxed shot still with the story behind his eyes! #headshotsession
  • Number 2 from Ozzy @ozzychetin showing his tougher side!
  • One of the nicest, focused and driven #actors we have met Ozzy @ozzychetin is such a nice guy and has an amazing new career ahead of him. Currently studying at Identity @identitydrama_ @idsalosangeles Three shots coming today.
  • Final #headshot from Eleonora with hair up for a different look. @eleonorakounf
  • Second #headshot from Eleonora showing her ‘Girl next door’ look. @eleonorakounf

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Corporate Headshots, Event Photography and Actor Headshots - London Bristol Nationwide


Professional photographers specialising in corporate headshots, actor headshots and event photography nationwide.  Call Helen on 07810 004451 or email

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Corporate Headshots, Event Photography and Actor Headshots