As a professional photographer, my clients often ask for advice on how to prepare for a session.
In this article, I will focus on three main areas to help you get a great professional headshot. Most people use their headshot for at least few years between updates. Therefore we want you to look your best. Careful preparation will help ensure success and allow us to work together to help create something special.
Tip #1 – Wardrobe
All the little details matter and you should give careful consideration to your wardrobe choices.
First, what are the norms in your industry? Do you want a more business casual look or perhaps a more formal business look (coat and tie)? Do you have a need for both? You can always bring clothing for both a business casual and formal business look.
We highly recommend bringing a few dark SOLID colored suit coats or sweaters in Black, Navy, and darker Grays as an outer layer.
We want to keep the focus of the image on your face. Light or brightly colored outer layers tend to steer the viewer’s eye away from the face. A bright white business shirt can compete with the face with the viewer’s eye. When you have a dark suit coat over this same white shirt, you will see a big difference in the final image.
Similarly, sleeveless blouses for women tend to draw attention to the light-colored flesh tones of the arms and can also pull the viewer’s attention away from the face. We recommend against anything sleeveless.
SOLID COLORS: Some patterns can cause Moire with the camera sensor and look funny in certain sizes and crops. Patterns also come and do and can cause your photo to become dated in a few years. Solid colors are classic and timeless. Therefore most patterns should also be avoided.
We don’t mean to suggest you can’t have any color in your photo… A bright and saturated colored tie or top (Red, Blue, Yellow, Etc) usually works well under the dark jacket, since the colored element is being used more sparingly as more of an accent. We recommend a pop of color as a tie or blouse under a jacket.
Think about bringing clothing items that are all the same color family. For example, various shades of blue or perhaps a more monochromatic look with shades of black, gray, and white.
Button placement and fit is also a key part of what wardrobe items look best in photos. The top button and how the collar lays on men’s shirts is something that can be an issue. Take a look at your shirt in the mirror and how it lays on your body when wearing it before your shoot.
Lastly, all clothes should be in good condition, freshly laundered, and pressed. Again the details matter and you want to look polished. If you have worn the suit all day it might look wrinkled in your photos.
Tip #2 – Hair
Bad hair days happen to us all, but don’t let them ruin your photo. Hair is one of the more challenging things to try and fix in post-production and to keep natural. Therefore, it is important to manage hair during the photo shoot.
We recommend having your hair styled by a professional before your session.
For men, it’s best to get a hair cut a few days to a week before your headshot session. If you like to “get your moneys worth” from your barber, allow the cut to grow in a little before your session.
For the ladies, visit your stylist or blow-out bar right before your shoot to look your best. CLICK HERE for a map of several different salons within a few steps of our studio door, if you need a recommendation.
If your prone to having frizzy hair and the forecast calls for rain, you may want to consult a stylist or research products that can help with Friz!
Of course, the best scenario is to have a stylist (or friend) with you during the shoot itself like high-end commercial shoots, but we recognize that not everyone has the budget for that. Not only does a stylist help style your hair at the beginning of the shoot, but they (or a trusted friend) can be on hand to do touch-ups and whisk away distracting hairs, as you change poses as and the shoot progresses. You will know your hair best and if it is difficult to control this might be an idea for you.
Although it is expensive to hire a stylist and MUA, considering most people only get a new headshot once every several years, think of it as a sound investment that can be amortized over the life-span of the image.
Tip #3 – Make-up
Great looking makeup is also a top component to a great image. What kind of makeup you use is also just as important as how it is applied.
Although your regular amount of make-up probably looks great for everyday use, under the bright studio lights any color or eye shadow can also look a little washed out.
Therefore, it’s also important to bring a small makeup kit with you for any touchups during the shoot and have the ability to add some lipstick, eyeliner, or blush if needed. Most people end up putting on a little more of these items than they usually wear.
Makeup also becomes important if you are prone to oily skin. Blemishes can easily be removed in Photoshop but poorly applied makeup, ie: too much foundation/powder or concealer all over the face can be tough.
If your doing your own makeup here are some tips to consider.
Not all make-up is “photo friendly” and some products are reflective under bright lights.
- Avoid makeup with SPF included as a component
- Avoid most mineral based powders
- Use Smashbox products or similar brands that are designed for photo shoots and will not reflect the bright studio lights.
In short, your welcome to bring a few different wardrobe options to your shoot and this is always a safe bet.
We hope these tips are helpful when preparing for your headshot session.
If you have any additional questions on how to prepare for your session please let us know and send us an email before your shoot.