Professional photographs are great, but sometimes, there’s the issue of budget and time. Luckily, you can still take superb headshots right in your own home. Here’s how.

In March’s Marketing and Branding Month, we’ll go deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, and more. Top CMOs of leading firms drop by to share their newest tactics, too. And to top off this theme month, Inman is debuting a brand new set of awards for branding and marketing leaders in the industry called Marketing All-Stars.

This article was updated March 2, 2023.

Thinking of DIYing your headshot? Although there might be a few challenges, with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to get a result that’s as close to professional as possible.

Remember that professional photography does have its advantages, and professional photographers have years of training to help you get the best results. However, the method outlined below can give you a great do-it-yourself placeholder until you can afford to invest in a professional set. Here’s everything you need to know.

The tools

  • An iPhone or a recent smartphone (set to portrait setting)
  • Lensa photo editor
  • Use the rear-facing camera ( This will capture a higher-resolution photo)
  • Canva’s graphic design platform
  • A step ladder
  • A partner, friend or timer setting
  • Natural light

The method

To achieve this look, I researched a few color and outfit combinations. Think about colors or clothing combinations you have received compliments on, and build on those. The important thing is to wear something that you feel comfortable and confident in.

Next, I played around with lighting in my home. I found that having natural light in front or to the side of me gave the best effect. I tried different windows, but the morning light in my living room was the best.

I grabbed my partner and asked them to hop up on a step ladder (to help the ’90s not look so far away). The height can often help achieve a more flattering angle, but you will have to test different levels for your best personal result. Do not get too close.

The best part? I stayed in my slippers the entire time — and it only took about 10 minutes of posing. You can reference this posing tutorial for more great tips and ideas.

Original, Lensa, Canva. Three easy steps!

The edit

I did a basic crop before sending the original picture to Lensa. Lensa is my favorite photo-editing app for a few reasons. It gives studio-quality light adjustments, it’s affordable, and it’s super easy to use. There are some basic touch-up features, and I have found the results to be flattering on all subjects.

Next, I took the finished picture to Canva and uploaded it into the Instagram-sized template. Using the “effects” option, I removed the background. From there, I selected a few different backgrounds and then saved my final results.

The wrap-up

This was a fun project, but I still plan to get professional portraits done this spring. It’s important to note that you can find affordable ways to market and promote yourself when pro shots are just not in the budget or if time is a major factor.

Headshots should be updated at least every two years and should look similar to how you look in person. Headshots are a treat and an essential part of your branding and building your business. Try this method, and share your results!

Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram and Twitter.

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