Professional Headshot: What to Wear

Lately I've been booking a number of professional headshots for Realtors, property management professionals, clients in the finance industry, and others. It's been a lot of fun getting to know these professionals, and since every industry is slightly different, they've all had questions about how to make their headshots the best they can possibly be. 

For the sake of the curious, I thought I would share my most recent email, laying out some expectations for how to dress and what to expect. This is for a property management company. Because they have more than 10 employees, I am setting up at their office rather than having them all come out to my studio. 

Hello! I am excited to take your professional photos on May 16. As Jennifer said, I will be setting up sometime between 9-9:30, and I hope to get started around 9:45. We are going to move through these quickly — taking about 10 minutes per person. I will give you posing direction, but plan for one close up pose (shoulders and above) and one zoomed out shot that includes more of your body. Dress accordingly. You’ll want to look like the best version of you professional self, so if you wear jeans to work, it’s okay for you to wear jeans in the photo, but make sure you’re wearing a clean, untatterred pair of jeans and a nice shirt. I prefer layering, so think about pairing a jacket with a collar or a cardigan over your blouse or shirt. Button up or polo shirts work well for men. Avoid shiny fabrics or ties, avoid bold patterns. Sometimes tight grid-like patterns have a strange effect in camera, so avoid those. 

For women, don’t wear turtlenecks, which tend to make people look like they don’t have a neck. Also avoid low-cut shirts that show off cleavage. Keep jewelry simple and classic. Again, I suggest layering. Don’t wear tank tops unless under something. Try to avoid incredibly bright colors OR colors that will wash you out like stark white (you can break this rule if you’re planning to wear a jacket over your bright or white shirt).

Aim for classic styles instead of something trendy. 

I wanted to add that it is wise not to schedule a headshot session immediately after a new haircut, especially for men since it tends to take a couple of weeks for your hair to adjust to a new 'do. If you have a beard, trim it nicely. Try not to do an emergency whitening right before a photo session. Instead plan for one a few weeks out. Some vibrant hair colors don't look great on camera, so give your hair a chance to calm down if you're trying out a new color. Make sure you get plenty of rest in the days leading up to the session and don't consume a lot of alcohol. It will show in the photos. 

Keep these tips in mind for your next professional headshot session and you'll be impressed by how the photographer can make you look!