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Getting a new headshot doesn’t need to be intimidating, but care should be taken in preparing for it to ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment. We’ve already stressed the importance of having a professional portrait for your business and/or career development, and the overall quality of your headshot is a joint effort between you and your photographer.

CLOTHING

When considering what to wear for your headshot, it is best to consider what is appropriate for your industry. Someone in finance or law would probably be expected to wear a suit, while someone in advertising could wear something a little more casual and creative. Think about what you want to communicate about you and your organization.No matter your gender, when dressing for your headshot session, think: Classic. Avoid anything dated or trendy (unless you want to take a new headshot every few years). Solid colors tend to photograph best, and you should choose one that contrasts nicely with your skin tone. Avoid bold patterns, distracting prints, and visible brand names. Fabrics that are excessively shiny should also be avoided. Both men and women should consider wearing long sleeves for their headshot; it just looks more professional and keeps the emphasis on your face. No one, except the late Steve Jobs, should wear a turtleneck.

It is a good idea to bring a few alternate shirts, ties, and jackets to try different looks or consult with your photographer.

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JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES

In general, jewelry and accessories should be kept to a minimum. A flashy watch or huge dangly earrings could come across as over-the-top instead of professional. Keep it understated and tasteful. Depending on your personality and your industry, perhaps one character piece would be appropriate to wear. Remember that the point is for people to connect with you and want to reach out to you professionally, and that is going to be accomplished by your face, especially your eyes, so we don’t want to distract from them.

HAIR AND MAKEUP

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Make sure that you don’t get a haircut or new color within a week or two from your portrait session. Men should make sure their facial hair is well-groomed if they have any, or shave the morning of if they don’t. For a headshot, facial hair should be all or nothing: a scruffy beard or barely-there mustache won’t accomplish the classy professional shot you’re looking for.Ladies, if you regularly do your own hair and makeup, you’re probably in good hands. It’s important that you look like you in your headshot, so it may be just right to do what you usually do. Just don’t overdo the makeup, since the camera could show caked foundation or clumpy masscara. If you aren’t confident in your styling abilities, consider having your hair and makeup professionally done before the shoot. We can recommend a stylist if you don’t have one already. Having your hair and makeup professionally done can add that extra polish that really makes a winning headshot.

Michelle Kaffko out of Chicago has a great example of how much makeup is too much.

SLEEP

Try to get plenty of sleep the night before so you don’t appear tired in your portrait. Being well-rested will help your eyes and face to appear relaxed. Make sure you’re fed and watered, too!

POSING

Your photographer will be able to direct you during the shoot, but if you have a particular look you’re hoping to acheive bring some example photos with you or email them to your photographer in advance. If you’re not sure what you want but want to form an opinion, conduct a Google images search for “corporate headshots” or “author photos” or “chef headshots” or whatever applies to you. Whether you’ve got an idea of what you want or not, trust your photographer’s vision too, because you may find that their poses turn out to be your favorite.

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(BONUS TIP) STAFF-WIDE HEADSHOTS

If your organization is all getting photographed, make sure that everyone has been informed ahead of time as to the dresscode so that everyone looks cohesive. Whether it’s business casual, formal, uniforms, etc., just make sure everyone is on the same page. Shooting everyone in the same location for their portrait will keep the emphasis on the people instead of the setting and also ensures consistent lighting and framing.

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Finally, the most important things to remember are that your headshot is supposed to:

  1. Authentically represent you and your organization
  2. Look professional, approachable, and appropriate to your field
  3. Be a great photograph that shows you take yourself and your business seriously and that you have a high standard for quality in your work

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Mallory

Written By Mallory Battista

Mallory has a bachelor’s degree in Business and over 10 years of experience in marketing, print and Web design, brand development, copywriting, and creative promotional campaign development. Whether designing Web pages, print campaigns, or a start-up’s branding identity, she connects clients with truly unique creative design and the materials and media to best garner results.