The Complete Headshot Guide

February 13, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Your COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE to Headshot Preparation

Welcome to the comprehensive guide for preparing for your upcoming headshot session! This guide will help you navigate the process to ensure you feel confident and comfortable so that you can look your best in your professional headshots.

In this guide, you will be empowered to...

1. determine what you want your headshot to convey.

2. consider how you intend to use your headshot.

3. make a smart wardrobe selection.

4. pamper yourself to gain confidence.

5. communicate with me, your photographer.

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” 
                        - Andrew Grant

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1. Determine what you want your headshot to convey.

Your headshot is more than just a photograph; it's a visual representation of your professional identity. Consider these factors to ensure your headshot conveys the right message.

Brand Identity

Think about your personal or professional brand. What values, qualities, or characteristics do you want to emphasize? Your headshot should align with and reinforce your brand identity.

Industry Fit

Consider the expectations of your industry. Different sectors have varying standards for headshots. Reflecting industry norms ensures that your headshot is relevant and resonates with your professional peers.
Having said that, there is something to be said for creating an image that stands out above the rest. This is really a matter of your personal brand and comfort level. I am always willing to discuss these options.

Approachability vs. Authority

Determine the balance between approachability and authority based on your role. A warm smile can convey approachability, while a more serious expression may project authority. Strive for a balance that suits your professional image. 

You may actually need two different expressions for different applications. It may be more appropriate to share a warm and friendly expression in materials directed toward clients. Conversely, a serious, authoritarian expression my be better suited if you provide education or research in your particular field.

Company Culture

If your headshot will be used within a specific company or organization, consider the company culture. Align your appearance with the values and atmosphere of the workplace.

Target Audience

Think about who will be viewing your headshot. Tailor your expression and attire to appeal to your target audience, whether it's clients, colleagues, or employers.


Infuse your personality into your headshot. A genuine and authentic expression can make a lasting impression. Consider how your personality traits can be subtly conveyed through your pose and demeanor. This is where we can effecively collaborate.

Consistency Across Media

Ensure that the message conveyed in your headshot is consistent with your overall professional image across various media. Consistency builds trust and recognition.

Emotional Connection

Consider the emotional response you want to evoke. A genuine and relatable expression can create a connection with those viewing your headshot.

Remember, your headshot is a powerful tool for personal branding. Take the time to think about the message you want to convey. Communicate this message with me so that we can achieve a headshot that authentically represents you and your professional aspirations.

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2. Consider how you intend to use your headshot.

Your headshot could potentially live in many places and serve many purposes. Having an end game in mind can make your headshot session more purposeful.

Profile Pictures

If your headshot will primarily serve as a profile picture on social media platforms, in your email signature, or professional networking sites, aim for a friendly and approachable look. A genuine smile can make a positive first impression.

Website and Online Presence

For headshots intended for your website or online portfolio, think about the overall aesthetic of your brand. Consistency is key, so ensure that your headshot aligns with the visual style of your website. Consider colors in your wardrobe and the background we select. If your website is bright, we will create a bright headshot. If your website is dark and moody, then we will create a headshot to match.

Business Signage and Brochures

If your headshot will be used in print materials like a business card, brochures or on business signage, consider the color scheme and overall design of your branding. A more formal or corporate look may be appropriate.

Also consider...

Industry Standards

Different industries have varying expectations for headshot styles. For example, creative professionals in design or entertainment may have more flexibility with unconventional poses or clothing choices, while professionals in finance or law might prefer a classic and polished look. Again, consider if it aligns with your brand to break the norms.

Consistency Across Platforms

If you use headshots across multiple platforms, such as LinkedIn, your company's website, and business cards, aim for consistency. This helps build a cohesive and recognizable personal brand.

"It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like.
It’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” 
                                                                             ~Paul Caponigro

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3. Make a smart wardrobe selection.

You are the focus of your headshot, not your clothing. Nonetheless, your wardrobe plays an important supporting role in your headshot image.

Professional Attire

Choose clothing that aligns with the industry or purpose of your headshots. Business attire is suitable for corporate professionals, while creatives may opt for something more casual but polished. 

Solid Colors

Stick to solid colors as they reduce visual distractions and draw attention to your face. Choose colors that complement your skin tone and bring out the natural hues of your eyes. Earthy tones often work well for a warm and approachable feel, while cooler tones can convey professionalism. Consider your branding colors so that your headshot attire is cohesive to the rest of your presentation. Black and white can also be timeless choices.

Textured fabrics can add depth and interest to your headshots. Consider fabrics like cotton, wool, or tweed for a classic and sophisticated look.

Avoid Busy Patterns

Steer clear of clothing with intricate patterns or logos, as they can be distracting in headshots. Solid or subtly textured fabrics are more visually pleasing.

Clothing Structure and Fit

Opt for V-neck tops or a top layer that is either V-neck or creates a vertical opening like an open cardigan or jacket. These styles create the illusion of a longer neck, providing an elegant and flattering look. On some people. a square neckline can add structure. 

If your headshots include upper body shots, consider wearing a jacket with some structure. This can give the appearance of broader shoulders, creating a powerful and confident look.

Wear well-fitted clothing that complements your body shape without being too tight. Avoid overly loose or baggy attire as it may not photograph well.

Accessorize Smartly

Simple accessories can add a touch of personality to your headshots. A statement necklace or a classic watch can be tasteful choices. Do not over-accessorize. Remember, we want the focus to be on YOU.

Would a prop be appropriate? For example, I have some headshots of myself with my camera in my hand. This can help to create that visual connection between you and your area of expertise.

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” 
                                                                                   -Rachel Zoe

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4. Pamper yourself to gain confidence.

"Pampering yourself is not selfish or indulgent. It's an essential part of self-care that can have a positive impact on your mental health and overall well-being. Taking the time to pamper yourself can reduce stress, improve self-esteem, enhance your mood, promote better sleep, and provide time for self-reflection.”
                                                          -The Awesome Hamper Company


If a haircut is in order, schedule it a week or so before your session. It often takes a few days to settle into a haircut. Maintain a hair color that you are most likely to keep for a while. Avoid drastic changes. You want to be recognizable. Even if you don’t typically use hair spray, adding a little can help to tame the fly-aways. 

Makeup (if applicable)

Keep makeup natural and well-blended.
A matte finish will photograph well as we want to avoid shine. Glitter and shimmery make-up will create unflattering glare. Retouch your makeup right before the session with matte powder if needed.
Don’t fret about a blemish. We all have them, but I can make them disappear… in your headshot, at least. Do not stress if you wake that morning with a new blemish making its appearance. Touch-ups are part of your headshot package.


Gift yourself with sleep.
Ensure you get a good night's sleep before the session to avoid looking tired.

Water is your friend.
Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your session to keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated.

Moisturize your face and lips to ensure a smooth, healthy appearance.

Avoid sunburn.
Be cautious about sun exposure in the days before your session to prevent sunburn. A healthy glow is fine, but a sunburn will not look attractive. 


If your hands might be in the portrait, consider treating yourself to a manicure.

"Happiness and confidence are the prettiest things you can wear.” 
                                                                                              -Taylor Swift

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5. Communicate with me, your photographer.

Understand that I am truly invested in the success of your headshot and how you feel about it. The more information that you share with me, the better equipped I am to realize your vision. Your honest feedback during the session will allow me to make the necessary adjustments for an ideal outcome.

Discuss Preferences

Communicate any specific preferences or concerns you have with me before or during the session. If you have a preferred side, I want to know. If you are self-conscious about a particular feature, please tell me. I am able to address your concerns through posing and lighting. This is truly a collaborative process.

Ask Questions

Don't hesitate to ask questions or seek guidance from me before and during the session. I need to know what you are liking or not liking so that we can adjust accordingly. I will always give you my professional opinion because I want your headshot to be fabulous as much as you do.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
                                                                               -George Bernard Shaw

You and your business deserve the best.

This guide provides a comprehensive road map for preparing for your headshot session. By following these tips, you'll be well-prepared and confident, resulting in stunning headshots that truly capture your professional essence. Enjoy your session! I can’t wait to work with you!

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