What to wear and bring for your Professional Headshot session
Preparing for your professional headshot can be a daunting task. This can be one of the more awkward kinds of sessions because it is all about you and the confidence you exude in your professional field. And not all of us are professional (or amateur) models!
To bring along with you:
- 2-3 changes of clothes. We may only have time for one, but it gives me options to choose from. Make sure to try outfits on while standing up straight, shoulders back, chest out. Sometimes our clothes fit better when we slouch. I won't let you slouch, so toss that!
- Ladies wear an camisole so you can change easily in public
- Lip balm/gloss. Dry lips are not your friend! Also, ladies do wear a little lip color. If you're not someone who does regularly know that media looks a little different than in person and just a small amount of color will look more natural and healthy than none, usually.
- A brush if you have hair that is better with it, particularly if you have wispy hair.
- Hair products you use
- Your mini-makeup kit
The major points:
1) Start with what you know.
Pick colors and styles, hair-style, and makeup choices that you are confident look good because you’ve done it at least a dozen times before, if not more. Pick professional outfits that you would feel great walking into an interview in. Getting your hair and makeup done is also an option if this helps you feel awesome. Most of my best head shots result from clients who've either had their hair and makeup done, or are really accustomed to looking like a movie star.
2) Dress head to toe, even for headshots.
This includes accessories. Even if you think you only want a headshot, I will make sure to include a mid-length and full length shot at well. It is hard to know exactly what your marketing materials might need, especially ones that may not be in the planning stages yet. Also, dressing head to toe will help your confidence.
3) You clean up well!
Teeth – see the dentist shortly before the shoot for a cleaning to get those pearly whites all cleaned up. You’ve been putting it off anyway, why not now?
Nails – make sure you have clean and trimmed nails
Facial grooming – Men, shave/trim up your facial hair on the morning of the shoot. Ladies – if you get your eyebrows done or other facial hair grooming, take care of it before your shoot.
Clothing – clean and crisp. Don’t bring me wrinkles!
4) Rest and Hydrate.
Think of this like opening night and you’re the star. You need your beauty sleep and lots of water in the day or two preceding the shoot. It will help your eyes and skin look bright and not-tired for the shoot.
Specific Wardrobe Tips
- When picking from colors that you already know look good on you, choose ones that match the outdoor season we’re shooting in. Spring greens can clash with autumn foliage in a distracting way. No solid white shirts if you’re Caucasian or light-skinned. And bright red usually doesn’t work for anybody. It’s just too strong a color.
o Fair skin and blue eyes? Try blues, pinks and grays.
o Green eyes? Try browns, greens and oranges.
o Medium or dark skin and brown eyes? You can probably wear most colors, but avoid those that closely match your skin tone, you don’t want to blend into your blouse
- Solids: Solid colors are always an easy choice.
- Patterns: Smaller patterns are better than larger ones. To make your eyes pop, consider a pattern smaller than your eyes that is simple and light. . Simple geometric patterns with no more than 2-3 colors are usually the most you can have on without distracting from your facial features.
- Avoid colors and patterns that will overtake your face as the focal point. Ie, a neon pair of pants or large floral pattern.
- Blouses with a simple, fitted cut; form-fitting scoop-neck, boat-neck, or v-neck tops a simple weave. In general, you want to give a little bit of room between your clothes and your beautiful face so we focus on your eyes and smile more than your wardrobe.
- Sweaters look very casual unless they are meant to work with formal attire. They also need to have absolutely no pilling on them
- NO TURTLENECKS. None. They make your face look heavy and your neck disappear!
- Pants should have structure as well. Suit pants, thick jeans, skinny jeans if you like how they look on every part of your body. Linen is great in the summer if it is ironed and you don’t wrinkle them en route.
- Dress shirts, crew necks, sweaters, v-neck, and turtle necks. Also suits and blazers. You can create contrast by layering a t-shirt, collared shirt, and/or leather jacket.
- Layers (i.e. a jacket or sweater) provide a variety of looks and can help accentuate a waist-line in ladies.
- Structure: Choose clothing with more rather than less structure. For example, a cozy soft t-shirt does not have structure; a rayon or cotton blouse with a specific cut does. A clean line goes a long way to slimming and de-slouching your wardrobe. Soft and gauzy will catch in all the wrong places.
- Timeless: Go for the classic choices to allow your professional portrait to withstand the test of time.
- Sleeves: wear cap sleeves or tank tops only if that is your line of work and you have rockin’ arms that you can’t wait to see on a business card.
- Keep it simple. You want to have people looking at your eyes and smile, not at your accent-piece large earrings or necklace.
- Necklaces – ideally some sort of simple chain, perhaps a small charm. Be mindful of what the charm says about you.
- Earrings – studs, small hoops, small dangles., even nothing. Go for gold, silver and pearl as they have a more timeless look.
Hair and Makeup
- Again, keep it simple and use styles you are used to using.
- If you are up for it, get your makeup done professionally. Make this a day of pampering and looking your best. Make it a date night to take full advantage!
- Get your eyes to POP! Eye-liner and/or mascara go a long way in photography. I personally rarely wear it, but in these images, you’ll want to. However, cool it on the blue eye-shadow unless that is your signature look.
- Moisturize and smooth out your skin.
- Smooth lips – don’t forget your lip balm/gloss. Shooting outside can lead to dry lips, and they don’t look great on camera.
I hope that’s a good place to start! If you have more questions, please be in touch!
Want to see some ideas? Check out my Professional Portrait Gallery or my Pinterest Professional Portrait Inspiration page. These are images from other photographers and clients who help inspire my shoots for one reason or another.