How to Prepare for Your Headshot Session

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Unless you’re a model, getting your photo taken can be a little stressful. So I created this guide to help you prepare for your portrait.

The guide is available here in PDF form, perfect to share with your office colleagues or friends.

Headshot Design

Your headshot is about you. You are the star. The best headshots show you confident and approachable — ready to take on any challenge with ease. The viewer should want to seek you out or give you a call. Here are a few points to consider to get the most value from your headshot project.

Before even setting foot in the studio. Here are a few questions to consider. If you can answer these questions, you’ll be in great shape. Hiring a great photographer is of course important, but these questions will help guide the photographer in making the best image of you for right the purpose.

What's the Goal?

It doesn’t matter if you’re part of a large organization or a solopreneur. What message do you want to send with your new picture?

Where will the image be used?

Where will people see your image? This might include websites, presentations, social profiles, print material, or even a book jacket.

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If you have specific page layout needs, let me know so I can shoot to those dimensions. For example, if you need a Facebook or YouTube banner, we’ll shoot with a very widescreen frame in mind. However, a narrow column magazine ad may require a vastly different approach.

What delivery specs do you have?

Do you have any delivery specs from your web developer or graphic designer? It’s OK if you don’t speak in pixels. Just pass along any instructions you have before the shoot.

What's the look?

Do you want to appear ready for the board meeting or the golf outing? Browse Pinterest for some ideas.

What background is best?

Do you have a background preference? I often recommend a clean, simple background. Solid white or gray backgrounds are very versatile. They’re also most easily replicated as your business grows. Environmental backgrounds, which might include an office or storefront background, or even a great outdoor location can add some personalization to your image.

Session Tips

Dress for what you do

If you don’t wear a suit on a regular basis, don’t wear a suit. It’s great to push your wardrobe range for specific needs, but your main image must reflect how people see you in a professional setting on a typical day.

Keep it simple

Unless it’s part of your personal brand, opt for a basic wardrobe. YOU are the star of these images. So minimize anything that takes attention away from your face. There’s nothing wrong with even a simple, well-fitting T-shirt.

Bring options

Feel free to bring some bolder and softer colors, but stick with solids and avoid heavily patterned garments. Layering is a great way to quickly change up your look in the studio. For example, a casual sleeveless dress can easily be dressed up with a blazer. If you want to wear a necktie, bring a few. Ties are a great way to get multiple looks without a full-on clothing change.

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Glasses

If you normally wear glasses, bring them. People won’t recognize you without them, and that’s a headshot fail. Worried about reflections? Most lenses now have anti reflective coatings. There are lots of tricks to minimize any lingering reflections, so don’t worry. Remember, it’s just physics and not a big deal.

If you love it, bring it.

Rules are made to be broken. So if a favorite outfit or shirt immediately comes to mind, bring it. Odds are it’s a favorite because the fit is perfect. That confidence comes through on camera!

Women's Style Tips

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Hair & Makeup

If you’re not getting hair and makeup with your session, plan to arrive camera ready with your professional makeup look. There’s no need to go overboard — it’s not a glamour shoot. Remember, you still need to look like everyday, professional you. Bring hairspray and a brush, just in case you need to do any touch-ups.

Clothing fit

Fitted clothing, as opposed to flowy and blousy items, is most flattering on camera. I create a flattering look with posing and negative space (i.e. gaps between your torso and arms). If the garment (like a big cozy sweater) doesn’t show any space, you’ll appear heavier on camera.

Jewelry

It’s distracting by design. Anything that takes the focus off you works against you, so keep it simple.

Men's Style Tips

Grooming

Arrive with your hair styled and ready to go. If you’re planning a haircut, try to line it up for at least a few days before your session. If you want to go for the scruff look, that’s cool. But it’s either in or out — it can’t be photoshopped.

Don’t worry — you’re off the hook for makeup. If you want to put on a little moisturizer to prevent dry skin, that doesn’t hurt. But avoid anything that might clump in your facial hair or adds color.

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Clothing fit

Proper fit is key when it comes to dress shirts and jackets. Make sure your shirt collar is properly sized, especially if you’re wearing a tie. Dig out the collar stays, and stick with a V-neck undershirt, in case we do open-collar shots. If you’re concerned about fit, visit a tailor. Suits and blazers are pretty trim these days. A 10-year-old suit will instantly date the image.


I hope you're feeling better prepared for your project. Is there a question I missed? Let me know in the comments. And don't forget to share with your friends or colleagues.

Thinking about a session for your office?  Drop me a note.