300 200

The Power of the Dark Side – Using a Black Background for your Headshot

SRK Headshot Day

Jennifer Chatfield of Dogpatch Massage used a black background to set off her red dress and blonde hair.

Darth Vadar knew the power of the Dark Side. I love shooting headshots on a black background. I love the gradients I can create to frame the subject. I love how color pops when it is set off against a dark background. But why should you as a subject want a black background? Here are five reasons.

It Sets a Dramatic Tone

A black background is definitely more dramatic than a solid white or grey. It shows confidence and creativity. It speaks with more impact. I particularly like a red dress or shirt on the black background.

It Stands Out From the Crowd

Your black background shot will stand out on websites and social media. Just go online and look at Team and About Pages. You won’t see a lot of black background shots. So when they appear, they really stand out. Yet, when you want to add a new employee to the team page later, it is easy to keep the aesthetic consistent.

Color Pops

There is a reason that all those pixels on a TV or monitor sit on a black background. The color stands out more. If identically lit shots on black and white sit next to each other, the one on black will look more vibrant and colorful.

Actor Pierce Peter Brandt on both a black and a white background. The moods are quite different.

People with White clothing or Light Colors Look Great

Some people just want to wear white or very light colors. It looks better on a dark backdrop. Patterned clothing with a white background looks weird on a white background, I put those on black as well. If a client looks great in pale yellow checks, we will photograph them on black.

The Black Background Enhances a Creative Aesthetic 

I find a lot of people in creative fields like the dark background. They like the unique visual pop provided by the dark backdrop. I asked creativity expert Austin Hill Shaw, why he thinks a black background for a headshot can communicate creativity.

“Creativity is often associated with the color white (think Apple, gods, and blank canvasses), which, as we know contains all the magnificent colors of the rainbow.  In order to experience creativity as a way of life, however, it is important that we turn first turn inwards and be honest about what’s not working.

“Pioneering psychiatrist and luminary Carl Jung once said, ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’ In my experience as a speaker, trainer, and coach on the subject of creativity, Jung’s words are resoundingly true.

“What helps both individuals and organizations tap into their natural creative abilities is addressing stuck emotions, traumas, and limiting beliefs head on, thereby ‘making the darkness conscious’ and converting that darkness into fuel for our personal and professional growth. That’s why I chose a black background for my head shot.” Thanks Austin.

Austin Hill Shaw, author of “The Shoreline of Wonder – On Being Creative” chose this shot on a black background.


If you want to stand out from the crowd think about employing the color enhancement, drama and creative aesthetic of a black background.

At our SRK Headshot Days we shoot both black and white backgrounds. We deliberately choose different outfits for the two backgrounds. There are cases where white works better. Like LinkedIn, Black and White conversions or people who insist on all black clothing. (Read my post on white backgrounds for LinkedIn by clicking here.)

We enjoy shooting both backgrounds and always like the variety our clients have in their final shots. If you would like to see for yourself, sign up for one of our upcoming SRK Headshot Days or a we can come to you with a Corporate Headshot Day.


Skip to content