If you haven’t already chosen (or been “assigned”) your backdrop, my recommendation is to consider the hero. This is an industry term that we use to talk about what should be the main focus of an image, whether a person or a product. In this case, the hero is YOU!
There are reasons many headshots have a simple white, black or gray backdrop. It makes you, our subject of the headshot, the focus of the image.
Photo by Michelle Loufman / MML Photography, LLC
Best advice: The simpler the better.
- Business casual or business professional always look polished for headshots, but this is also very dependent on the look/feel you want to convey. If you’re a fashion brand, for example, you’ll want to wear an outfit that best reflects what you’re trying to convey.
- Solid colors look best in headshots. If going with a pattern keep it very simple.
- Start with a simple shirt or blouse and find complementary layers.
- Bring an extra change or two of clothes. You never know if you’ll have a spill or decide against an original outfit idea.
- Please make sure all clothes fit properly! Any snug clothes that tug or pull can’t be fixed in Photoshop. Conversely,
- Make sure that ALL clothes are ironed and pressed before the shoot. Wrinkles in clothes are difficult to Photoshop out. Don’t expect the photographer to do this unless you want a hefty upcharge.
- Do you have pets at home? Bring a lint brush or roller with you.
- Don’t worry about shoes if just shooting headshots. Be comfortable!
Tips for Men
- Classic but not too dressy: A collared shirt + sport coat or blazer is a timeless look. No need for a tie unless your company is more formal or needs to convey extreme professionalism (e.g. banking or C-Suite exec).
- Avoid sports shirts or anything with a large logo, unless it’s been decided ahead of time to wear a company shirt.
Men’s Outfit Inspiration
Tips for Women
- Avoid sleeveless shirts or plunging necklines. A very simple collared blouse, crew neck or layered look with a modest v-neck looks fantastic on women.
- Try layering with a blazer or cardigan.
- Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones (cream, beige, pastels, peach or yellow) as they will blend your face into your clothes. Unless you’re feeling super confident, pass on super bright colors, like neon tones or very bright red or orange as they’ll also cast an unflattering color tone on your face.
- Wear jewelry you feel best fits your outfit and style. Some women really love bold jewelry. Bring a few choices if you’d like. My only recommendation is to run with a more classic look and avoid uber trendy pieces as they can date a photo quickly.
Women’s Outfit Inspiration
If you can afford it, hire a hair stylist for the morning of the shoot. In many cases, it’s not necessary as the majority of women (and men) are capable of doing their own hair.
- Other options for hair: pamper yourself at a dry bar. They do an amazing job and the style will last for a few days.
- Try to avoid “experimental” hairdos the day of your shoot. If you don’t normally do the “Dallas” tease, it might not look like your genuine self.
- If doing your own hair, wash and style your hair the day of the shoot. If working with a hair/makeup artist or a blow dry bar, follow their lead.
- Ladies: Bring a brush and some hair product (gel/hairspray) with you to the shoot to help tame flyaways.
- Men: If you are the few gifted with not having to deal with hair problems, having a matte powder can calm any “shine” on your head. Many photographers or hair/makeup artists (if hiring one) will have this in their kits.
4. Makeup and Face
A hired hair/makeup artist can do a fantastic job for camera-ready and stay with you during the shoot for touchups, but it’s not necessary for everyone.
- I recommend wearing a tad more makeup than usual — as if you’re going out for a nice event — but don’t overdo it. It shouldn’t look “cakey”. Avoid very heavy and dark eye makeup.
- Avoid heavy matte styles of makeup, especially thick, dull foundation. It will dry out your skin and settle into fine lines, which can actually age you.
- On the flip side, an overly highlighted or dewy skin products will make your face look oily and shiny. The best brands for camera-ready makeup include Smashbox and MAC Cosmetics are my favorite picks.
- Bring your makeup and moisturizer with you to the shoot in case your skin does get dry or you need touchups.
- Bring lip balm or lip gloss with you to help keep lips looking soft. Use a mild scrub on your lips the night before so your lipstick goes on smoothly.
- Don’t do any extreme beauty regimens right before your shoot, like facial peels, tanning or extensive exfoliating or swapping makeup brands entirely. Your skin can look very irritated or have a reaction.
- Get rid of any unwanted hair a few days before your shoot. Clean up brows and upper lip hair. 🙂
- Drink plenty of water so your skin stays hydrated and “plush”.
- Shave right before you leave for a shoot. That five o’clock shadow can’t be Photoshopped easily. Use cooling gel or aftershave to help with skin irritation, but don’t experiment with any new products before the shoot, in case you have a reaction.
- Bring some oil absorbing sheets to soak up any oil or sweat that might build up during the shoot. The studio lights can get pretty hot. Some great sheets are the Clean and Clear: Oil Absorbing Sheets. You can find them at any Wal-mart or local drug store.
5. Pick a Side. Any Side.
- Before the shoot look at your face in the mirror and see what side you like better. If you aren’t sure, we’ll experiment with a few different poses.
- If you have one eye that is visibly smaller than the other bring the side of your face with the smaller eye towards the camera. It will help reduce the difference between the two.
Photo by Michelle Loufman / MML Photography, LLC
6. During the Shoot
- Relax! Did you know that most celebrities and even presidents don’t love to have their photo taken? Rest assured that you’re in good company. While many of you see your flaws, I see your amazing faces and personalities. So please rest assured that if you enter this with a positive and relaxed mindset, we’ll have great results.
- Music: Do you have a favorite band, artist or playlist? Music will ease some of the tension so feel free to pass along your favorite song list ahead of time.
- Even if it seems silly, follow my lead on instructions. You may feel a little funny posing differently, but the goal is to work a few angles and poses to get the best possible outcome and the most natural you.
- My goal is to have you review and give the ok on a pre-edited image before leaving the session, when time allows. This way, we have time to make any quick adjustments if needed.
- Smile — genuinely. A good tip is to leave a little space between your teeth when smiling, enough to put the tip of your pinky in between. Your smile will look more genuine.
- Squinting your eyes just a little will also help the shots look more confident and natural.
- Relax after a few shots and take a breather. Walk away and come back if you have to.
Photo by Michelle Loufman // MML Photography
7. Editing + Delivery
When reviewing your favorite photos, make a note of what you’d like to have edited. A few notes below:
- Do you want any imperfections Photoshopped out? Some people like everything to be cleaned up in their headshots, including a few freckles, scars, pimples or fine lines. While I don’t love the airbrushed look, as it feels very unnatural, I respect any requests from clients.
- Everyone asks, “Can you Photoshop this… or this… I have a double chin, can you get rid of that? Can you make my eyes bigger?” Well, that depends. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. Every image is different and Photoshop can be a beast when editing. I’ll do my best to make you look amazing and the goal is to get that out of camera.
- If you do want any major editing done, please keep in mind that it may cost extra.
- Please keep in mind that as photographers we spend more time editing than shooting. Please give us a realistic time frame to deliver your photos. If you want major editing to be done, expect that it may take a little longer for them to be finished.