ULTIMATE HEADSHOT TIPS ON WHAT TO WEAR FOR YOUR PORTRAIT SESSION

Headshot Tips for Corporate Headshots, Business Headshots, and
Business Portraits

How to prepare for your Portrait session in 10 minutes or less!

This guide was created to be concise and organized. I broke down each items into chapters for easy reading  and following along. If you have any questions or thoughts that you would like to add to my list please do so. I have also used some infographics and images from others sites and have tried to give credit to the original source.

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Best Practices for Choosing Clothing for a Men's Headshots

Lets Start

My “ultimate guide on what to wear for a men’s business headshot” is a resource that will show you how to look your best online. I have compiled over 12 years of experience as one of the most requested headshot photographers in Chicago. I am happy to share my expertise  so that no matter who you go

A great headshot is cocktail of several well prepared ingredients.

  • Style
  • grooming
  • expression
  • lighting
  • background
All of them play a role in how you are perceived. I will focus on what you can control. 
 
The purpose of a headshot is to answer one major question. What everyone wants to know is, “Can I trust him”. It’s what makes you engaging and interesting to be around. If you don’t look authentic and natural in your headshot then it’s hurting you more than it’s helping.  
 
Notes about the Guide: This guide is meant for commercial headshot photography and not for dating profiles and other social media profiles (exclude LinkedIn). This guide is for business purposes to help you build authority online.

"A great headshot is a cocktail of several well prepared ingredients...."

Who is audience and what is your outcome?

target
It’s important to know your audience and how you can help them. This is why you should ask yourself these three questions before getting your headshot.
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What qualities do they look for in a professional?
  • How do I attract my target audience?
The last question is particularly important because certain jobs require certain types of people. An ad agency might want people that are trendsetters so they will look more for self-expression over a Lawyer which people expect to be more “Buttoned up” and professional. Knowing what your audience expects is vital to taking a headshot that not only reflect you but also your goals.

Do Men need a Hair and Make up artist for their Headshots?

It’s easy to over think when going to have your headshot taken. Most keep their headshot for 2 years or after a job promotion. I recommend keeping the hair natural and looking clean. Keep it out of the face and especially the eyes.

Makeup is an option for men but not recommended unless you have acne or blemishes that are very noticeable. It’s a confidence booster though so some men like that part of the process. Most of these issues can be taken care of by our skilled retoucher. I do recommend at least powder for matte the skin.

What colors look best for Business Portrait

There are few things that have as much a deep-rooted psychological beliefs system than colors. Colors play a role when we perceive things as dangerous or safe so when you wear the wrong color you can see how it could affect another person negatively. I have included a simple guide before about what colors will make another person feel. Take a few minutes to review your industry and to notice a color palette. Notice what companies are using for their colors and soon you will see a trend in the colors.

One Examples, Doctors or anyone in the medical field should never wear red or orange because it closely resembles blood and increases the feeling of pain and anxiety in another person. Blue’s and greens are preferred in the medical field.

This can go along for every industry and so at what is a normal color palette to decide on what works before for you. I do recommend keep the dress shirt lighter in color and the ties can have more saturation.

What patterns look best

You should keep patterns to a minimum. The focus is on your and for men the classic look is to help bring attention to the face and not take it away. The color and pattern should complement the skin and not distract. Ties can have patterns but consider that the more colorful and larger pattern the more focus it will pull away from you.

Moire Pattern is an effect that is caused when lines ar close together. They cause the digital equipment to cause banding of the material. This is to

Patterns to avoid

Why you should ALWAYS Tailor a suit

Clothing should always look fitted. Button down shirts and suits require a tailor because the clothing is meant to take the shape of your unique body.

If you have gained weight or lost weight it’s important try it on and make sure it fits correctly. If you don’t know if it fits correctly simply take it to a tailor and have them look at it.

Clothing that isn’t fitted gives an impression of unprofessionalism and lack of self-awareness. In the example below, you can see the difference and how much better he looks by having a suit reflects style.

Professional headshot look with Necktie

Neckties are classic and considered the most professional in business headshots. They will never go away from the professional services industry because of the importance of their position. Lawyers, Doctors, Bankers, and insurance to name a few should have at least one headshot with a tie on.

There are several different options of knots for your necktie. You should keep it simple and clean. Half or full Windsor is a classic staple in the industry. Stay away from the fancy trinity knot unless you are in a creative field that promotes expression. These include but are not limited to Interior designers, stylist, artists, fashion and beauty industry.

Jacket without a necktie for your men’s headshot

There is a trend to keep it casual online for company headshots as well as headshots for LinkedIn and other social media sites. Jacket’s without neckties are great because you will still come off as professional still. I recommend wearing shirts that have high collars. This will keep it “popped” and the collar won’t fall flat under the jacket. Make sure to remove your undershirt for the headshot session. The white undershirt looks unprofessional.

T-shirt under a Blazer is a great outfit if you want to come off as more casual. You should keep the shirt color and have it contrast in color with the blazer. If the shirt and blazer match, it won’t look good for a headshot.

  • No Necktie must do:
  • Where the high collared shirt
  • Keep chest hair to a minimum
  • No polo shirts under a blazer
  • No undershirt in headshot
  • Don’t unbutton more than 2 buttons

Keep it relaxed with just a work shirt

This is the most casual of all the outfits. This is great if you want to look like you are “part of the team”. In tech, this is a popular look and I have photographed entire companies including the CEO in this look.

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people do to look great in their
headshot.

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Never take an
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Our simple to use techniques
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Additional headshot tips for men's attire

  • Press your shirt so they look sharp and wrinkle-free
  • Shirts that are faded and worn will make you look faded and worn.
  • Bring Collar Stays
  • Try on clothing before the headshot photo shoot. Make sure you have them fitted by a tailor.
  • For wider portraits pants should match the jacket.
  • Eyeglasses should be cleaned and in good order
  • Haircuts should be 5 days from headshot session.
  • Shave that day if that’s your look.
  • Beards should be trimmed and looking sharp.
  • Trim Nose hairs (The most common mistake men make)

Best Practices for choosing clothing for a women's headshots

Lets Start

Let’s me first get this out of the way. Options are infinite for women’s attire. From Colors, cuts, styles, and fittings there are endless ways to make your headshot stand out. In this guide, I will dispel any myths about colors and necklines as well as give practical advice that will apply to your specific body.

Behind every great headshot, there is a story. It’s your story and a headshot is a great way to share it with the world. My “ultimate guide on what to wear for a women’s business headshot” is a resource that will show you how not only how to look your best but give you a leg up in meeting your goals. You may be looking for a new job, getting a promotion, or wanting to build authority as a speaker and what I have here is the way to do just that.

I have compiled over 12 years of experience with top talent across many different fields and I am happy to share with you what works and what doesn’t.

Notes about the Guide: This guide is meant for commercial headshot photography and not for dating profiles and other social media profiles (excluding LinkedIn). This guide is for business purposes and to help you build your personal brand online.

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GET IMMEDIATELY – 3 Techniques

Photogenic

people do to look great in their
headshot.

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Never take an
awkward smile again!

Our simple to use techniques
will build confidence
EVERYTIME.

Should I hire a professional makeup artist?

Makeup is always recommended for a corporate headshot. It will enhance your features, bring out the best in you, and also give your skin a polished look. If you’re not accustomed to wearing makeup then I recommend hiring a makeup artist for your shoot. The application can be light and unnoticeable but it will make a difference. Ask the artist to keep it natural and not to use a heavy application.

Hair should be styled the same way you wear it to work or a networking event. It should be washed and styled that day. Women with longer hair sometime schedule a blowout before the shoot. Make sure you know the person and are comfortable they will make you look good.

Quick Tip: The makeup and hair should look like you every day and not a special one time occasion.

What color is your background?

The background of your headshot will help determine what clothing works best. Darker backgrounds will create contrast with lighter shirts and blazers. The reverse is also true, so keep your background in mind when selecting your wardrobe. If your company has a set background–such as plane white for all employees–it’s good to keep it in mind when reading the rest of this guide.

Quick Tip: At JA Headshots, I usually shoot with both a light and dark background during a session to give you a variety of choices. I like to give a range of options and styles.

What colors look best in your corporate headshot?

Let’s dive into the science and nature of color. This topic is so important and often misunderstood. First let’s explore the psychology of color and then I will share some wardrobe tips depending on the color of your skin. 
 
Colors here all play a crucial role in how people will perceive you. What color resonates with you the most?
 
Color have different meaning in every culture. For this guide we are going to focus on the US market. Here is a chart of what the colors say and how they make people feel. Remember these are general guidelines and for every rule there is an exception.

Quick tips for choosing your headshot colors

  • If you choose to wear a jacket and shirt, consider pastel or muted shirt colors.
  • Know your industry and what is acceptable and what people expect. For example, the banking industry the most popular color is blue. Why? Because you a banker to be logical and efficient. Blue is a great color to help your audience associate you with those qualities.
  • If you are a doctor you may want to come off as smart and trustworthy so grey, white or blue well for you as well. Avoid red because of its association with trauma.
  • If you are public speaker or business owner blues tend to be the most popular because they are soothing and introduce peace. 

How your Skin effects color

Here is some advice on how skin and color work together. These are suggestions and not rules but should be considered when selecting colors for your skin type.
  • Dark skin or just really really tan people can generally wear more saturated colors in headshots. Richer Yellows, greens, purples, pinks, and oranges.
  • Light skin people will generally want to avoid saturated colors and brighter colors because it will pull color from their skin and make them look more pale. Reds, Blues, and greens are ok for saturated looks but the less colorful the better.

What patterns look the best

Styles will come and go so you will want to pick patterns that are classic and not distracting. Keep the tones and designs to a minimum and make sure they don’t clash with other clothing as to limit your wardrobe options. You want to avoid alot of contrast in the shirt. I have shared two examples below.

Quick Tip: heather shirts and jacket work great for a headshot but stay away from prints unless you want a lot of personality in the headshot. Fashion and interior designers work best for prints and patterns.

Light patterns that work well

Busy patterns to avoid

Business jacket and Blazer

Standard Women’s Suit

The classic and most professional headshot look. It’s exudes confidence in wardrobe form. There there however two kinds of jackets. The standard cut and the feminine cut. The standard cut comes from a male tailored look and while it has a feminine outline it usually looks traditional. This style is great for women in professional services and financial banking. The more important your position the more likely you will wear this cut naturally.

Feminine cut women's suit

The feminine cut is a take on the standard cut but introduces more modern and fashion forward lines. It may or may not have buttons, it may have a collar and there is stitching that accents different lines to introduce a more feminine form. These jackets are mostly worn by marketing and creatives that want a professional look and still want to be perceived out of the box. It’s important in certain industry to remain relevant and “hip” and this suit does this with professionalism at it’s core.
 
Quick Tip: I won’t be able to tell if your wearing a pantsuit or skirt as we will be photographing from the belly button up to the top of the head. The important part is the keep the wardrobe fitted to make the clothing look it’s best on you.

Dresses that look great in headshots

Dresses for headshots are great because they come in many different necklines and the materials are nicer in quality. Usually dresses are fitted and easily paired with a jacket to give you two options for your headshot session. Down below I will discuss the necklines that work the best but I will give one tip for dresses. Wearing a sleeveless dress will always bring out the arms in a headshot. 

Business+Headshot+by+JA+Headshots+74-9cedeea7

Jewelry as an accent in a headshot

Jewelry is a great way to accent your look and give you another way to stand out and being honest to who you are. If you wear big necklaces in person you can bring a few options and we can work with them. 
 
Earring are great option and keep them simple and not distracting. The bigger the earring the more attention it will take away from you. Diamond studs and pearl earrings are classic and are a great additional to any wardrobe. Keeping the earring simple will allow you more outfit choices and styles of clothing. 

Shirts and Blouse

The feminine cut is a take on the standard cut but introduces more modern and fashion forward lines. It may or may not have buttons, it may have a collar and there is stitching that accents different lines to introduce a more feminine form. These jackets are mostly worn by marketing and creatives that want a professional look and still want to be perceived out of the box. It’s important in certain industry to remain relevant and “hip” and this suit does this with professionalism at it’s core.
 
Quick Tip: I won’t be able to tell if your wearing a pantsuit or skirt as we will be photographing from the belly button up to the top of the head. The important part is the keep the wardrobe fitted to make the clothing look it’s best on you.

Necklines

Since your headshot is starts at the bust up to the head your necklines plays a large role in how others view you. I recommend keeping the neckline simple and with a clean line. Here is an image of necklines that are most suitable and others that won’t look as good for a headshot.
womens+neck+line

Glasses in Headshots

Glasses are the superman or clark kent (I couldn’t’ find a female version) of the headshot. Put them on and some look as if they increased their IQ 20 points. It has a way of not aging our appearance but adding maturity to your years. The goal of a headshot is to relate and be authentic while “selling” yourself as a professional. It’s also important to see your eyes in a headshot as well. This is where recommending them is a personal decision.
 
If you wear glasses bring a pair of them. Try to coordinate your glasses with your outfit if you have a few pairs. Make sure you never select your headshot with the glasses not pushed up all the way. It’s important to keep the eyes the main focus on the image.
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GET IMMEDIATELY – 3 Techniques

Photogenic

people do to look great in their
headshot.

Divider-Decorative_01

Never take an
awkward smile again!

Our simple to use techniques
will build confidence
EVERYTIME.

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