First impressions are important. And increasingly, first impressions occur online.

So Toronto photographer Yuli Scheidt is taking free headshots for women and non-binary individuals — those who do not identify as either male or female — who are trying to get work or advance their careers in a month-long project.

Scheidt said she wants to photograph women, particularly of diverse backgrounds, and non-binary individuals who are in or entering work in science, technology, engineering or math "because these groups are underrepresented."

"I didn't want something so simple and silly as a headshot to hold anyone back," she told CBC News.

The 29-year-old said she is taking the photographs for free or pay-what-you-can because headshots are pricey — they can cost $100 to $500, she said — another deterrent.

"I didn't want something so simple and silly as a headshot to hold anyone back." - Yuli Scheidt, photographer

"I wanted to knock down that cost-prohibitive barrier altogether," she said.

"I think it's fair to give my services to people for one month like that."

Though not everyone might think a headshot is imperative, Scheidt said.

"If you, say, put up a selfie or a nice photo but you have to crop someone out of it up on your LinkedIn, it's not the most professional looking."

Scheidt usually takes the headshots during breaks at her day job in design and strives to shoot them in a setting unique to the participant in a bid to "tell so much more about the person" and ensure they are comfortable.

Yuli Scheidt, Toronto photographer

Ateqah, a community builder and storyteller working in digital media and communications, got her headshot taken by Yuli Scheidt. (Yuli Scheidt)

"Maybe the reason they haven't got a headshot isn't because of the cost but it's because they don't feel worthy of having their photo taken or they don't feel comfortable," she said.

"What I really hope is that they get an image that they think represents them."

Scheidt said she is already booked for November, with 15 headshots taken and 15 upcoming, but will start shooting again in the new year. 

"The simplest thing I can give someone to help them have a foot forward is having a really nice polished headshot." 

Yuli Scheidt, Toronto photographer

Emily, a journalism student and news editor at Ryerson's campus radio station, got her headshot taken by Yuli Scheidt. (Yuli Scheidt)