Headshot Tips: Getting Ready For Your Portrait Session

  1. Choosing Clothing: MEN
  2. Choosing Clothing: WOMEN
  3. Choosing Clothing: ACTORS
  4. Makeup- do it yourself or hire a make-up artist?
  5. How to prepare for your headshot

Choosing clothing for headshots: MEN

What to wear for a professional headshot

When choosing clothing for your professional headshot: think classic. Pick your favorite suit that fits you well and is preferably a classic dark color like navy blue or gray. Choose a suit that doesn't bunch up when you button it or if you sit down, and a shirt and tie that match each other and the suit.

Try to stay away from anything with bold, distracting patterns or colors. Clothing with really tight grids or a small herringbone pattern can have a moiré pattern effect on camera, so stay away from tight grid-like patterns. Thin stripes that are a little further apart are okay. Ties look best when their tone lands between the suit and the shirt-- so a light shirt, a dark suit, and a tie in a shade somewhere between them. Some ties are too shiny-- try to stay away from really reflective, shiny, silk ties.

If you don't wear a tie, choose a non-white shirt if possible: white shirts without a jacket and tie to break them up can lose detail in the color and folds. And if you wear a button-down shirt, it's best to wear a jacket or sweater of some kind to layer the look. If not, choose a darker color shirt or something with pockets or details to avoid it looking like a head floating on a blank, boxy shirt, and unbutton a button or two. And make sure we can't see your undershirt beneath the button-down shirt: wear a v-neck or no undershirt at all.

For ideas of good clothing looks and headshot attire for men, see our Wardrobe Ideas Pinterest board:


Choosing clothing for headshots: WOMEN

What to wear for a professional headshot

Choose a professional suit or business-oriented outfit that has a classic look: you shouldn’t be able to tell what decade it is in the photo. Don’t choose anything with bold, distracting patterns or colors, unless you can layer a plain blazer or sweater over it so not much of the pattern is showing and you get just a pop of color.

Clothing with tight grids or a small herringbone pattern can have a moiré pattern effect on camera, so stay away from grid-like patterns. Thin stripes are okay.

Try not to wear stark white unless it’s under something, such as a suit jacket, cardigan, or sweater. V-necks accentuate the neckline and generally look best on women. Just don’t choose something with too low of a neckline: no cleavage. And no turtlenecks: they tend to make people look like they have no neck at all in photos.

Try to stay away from short sleeves or tank tops: executive headshots tend to look better without bare arms, but if you'd like to try showing arms in a sleeveless blouse or shift dress, we could make it work. Just bring a blazer or sweater to put over it as an additional option.

For jewelry, go for something small, classic, and not very reflective or flashy. Earrings shouldn’t dangle more than an inch from your earlobe. Simpler is always better, so if we notice your jewelry before we notice your face, we may ask you to remove any excess jewelry.

For ideas of good clothing looks and headshot attire for women, see our Wardrobe Ideas Pinterest board:


Choosing Clothing: ACTORS & ENTERTAINERS

What to wear for an acting headshot

Entertainers can break a few rules for clothing for headshots, but one rule stands: it shouldn't distract from your face. Choose something in a flattering color with a flattering neckline, and no logos, distracting patterns (classic or subtle patterns are okay), or lots of sequins/glitter, etc. choose something classic and simple.

For ideas of good clothing looks for actors/entertainers, see our Wardrobe Ideas Pinterest board:


Makeup- do it yourself or hire a make-up artist?

If you do your makeup yourself, do your makeup how you usually wear it for an average day, or possibly a nice dinner where the steak is $30 but not $75. Do not wear heavy makeup; a close headshot will show clumps of mascara or dark lipstick. Choose light to medium eyeliners, eye shadows, and lipsticks that are only a shade or two darker than your skin tones. This brings your features out in a subtle manner without making it look like you're wearing lots of makeup. Avoid caking on heavy foundation, or wearing shiny eye shadows or lip gloss: too much shine is distracting on camera and looks wet.

Skin blemishes, pimples, and even wrinkles can be retouched. It’s not cheating. I promise.

How much is too much makeup for a headshot? Everyone is different, so it depends on how much make-up you usually wear: you want your headshots to be easily recognizable as how you generally look in person. For some people, that means wearing your make-up exactly how you usually wear it, for others it's wearing a little more, for others a little less. If you don't wear much makeup every day, don't do your makeup like Kim Kardashian for your photos.

Should I hire a make-up artist?

If you're concerned about looking your best for your headshot then I do recommend having a hair and make-up artist present for your headshot session-- especially if you usually don't wear all that much makeup every day. We work with makeup artists who are specialize in headshots and have been trained in makeup specifically for print and motion photography. They will work with you to talk through how much makeup you usually wear, what colors and tones, and will build upon your usual look to make it photo-ready, so you look like you, but your features pop and you look naturally beautiful.

Should men have a makeup artist for their headshot? Just like with women, it's up to you. Most men who add a makeup artist to their session do so because there's something they notice in all of their photos that they don't like and would like to correct with makeup. Such as excessive shine, redness, or unruly hair.

How to prepare for your headshot

Prepare for your headshot by taking care of yourself in the days leading up to your headshot session. Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking, and drink plenty of water for a few days and on the day of your headshot. This will make your skin very hydrated to fill in lines and wrinkles, undereye circles, and give you a healthy glow. Get plenty of sleep the night before your photo so you're rested and ready to go.

Hair: Don’t cut or dye your hair right before the shoot, especially men since stylists tend to cut hair a little shorter so it looks like it's at its proper length about 2 weeks later. Some shades of freshly colored hair can look too vibrant and unnatural on camera, especially a hair color with any red tones-- drawing more attention to your hair than your face. A new haircut also looks its best after at least a week, and colored hair looks more natural after 1-2 weeks’ worth of shampooing.

Teeth: If you want to whiten your teeth before your session, start as early as possible and use a natural whitening method, or have your teeth whitened with your dentist. A quick emergency whitening method that works for many people is to mix some toothpaste with about 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of food-grade hydrogen peroxide, and about 1/2 teaspoon of water. Polish your teeth with this mixture and it should quickly whiten your teeth a shade or two. But don't use this method more often than once a month- baking soda is abrasive and can wear away at your enamel if used too frequently. (And retouching is also a much safer option!)

Beards: If you have a beard, trim it evenly so it’s nicely groomed. If you’re going clean-shaven, get a good shave before your headshot. Darker colored beards tend to be accentuated in photos- trim it well so it's not too thick.

And remember to have fun and not take it too seriously! We know that's a little difficult after all these do's and don'ts, but we promise to make the experience as relaxing as possible. You got this. :)