Tips for Headshot Prep!

As we regularly review website traffic with clients, especially those in service-based industries, we often find ourselves communicating with them that their “team” page is typically one of the top ranked pages on their site. They want to get to know the people they’re doing business with and read a little about what makes them tick. And that means they’re going to check out your headshot, too. That’s right, folks, they want to see how you present yourself, and maybe even if you look like someone they can imagine themselves doing business with.

While that may seem shallow, the fact is, that people buy from people. You’ve probably taken great care to craft a bio that tells your story, and a LinkedIn page that makes you shine. But we see too many cases where someone cuts corners with their photo, or worse, has a photo snafu because they’re not wearing the right thing or chosen the right location to portray your professional image.

In my 25 years in the industry, I’ve seen plenty of these snafus, so I thought I’d give a little insight into how to avoid them, and it all starts with being prepared. It’s not enough to just show up and have the photographer shoot away and hope you get something usable. Here are some tips for what to prepare for:

Not only having yourself perfectly coiffed, but having the right clothes is key.

Not everything you love to wear is going to photograph well. Ladies, you don’t want to look like you just added 10 pounds over night, or that you are wearing a see-through blouse, and guys, this might not be the place for your “lucky shirt” with the super cool stripes. Same goes for that amazing patterned suit jacket you love. Bring along a couple options because it may not be great in print – or on the computer screen.

According to Adam Bronkhorst “…patterns and thin stripes don’t work well on camera and computer screens. There is a thing called the moire effect when thin strips close together create a secondary rippling pattern. This is especially evident when an image is small on a screen. Also patterns which look cool on your clothes may just be a busy visual noise on camera. So if you can think about wearing something plain that will look good no matter what size the image is.”1

Keep your color palate smooth and even keel.

Wear attire that has a more muted, monochromatic effect. Solid colors and jewel tones pair nicely with grays, beiges and earth tones. And wear a color that flatters your skin tone. You can always accessorize to add a pop of added style or color. (FYI – Dark teal, eggplant, soft rose, and red are often flattering to all hair colors and skin tones.2)

Photographer Carrie Anne Wright says, “a big no-no for your attire is a busy pattern or color. Your favorite everyday shirt might be one with every color in the rainbow in a plaid pattern, but I can guarantee that won’t look as amazing in a photo as it does in your full-length mirror…Leave behind your small stripes, high contrast patterns, and safety orange hoodie. These types of patterns can create a dizzying and unflattering pattern in photos.”3

Do not OVER accessorize!

Ladies, you are not walking the runway at Fashion Week, so you don’t need to pile on the tons of chunky necklaces, bracelets and earrings. And guys, leave the gold chain, huge watch and blinged-out cufflinks at home, too. Save all that for a night out with your friends, gala, or special someone in your life. Keep it classy. And bring along options if you aren’t sure what is too much or not enough.

Wear shapes and colors that flatter your skin tone and shape.

Having clothes that not only fit amazing but have nice shape will serve you well, and the same can be said for those that don’t. The camera will capture that and you could be looking at a hefty photoshop bill if you aren’t happy with the shots. Be smart.

If that amazing suit you bought 2 years ago no longer fits, don’t stuff yourself into it just for the shoot.

  • Ladies, stay away from puffy shoulders if you don’t want to look like a linebacker for the 49ers or Alexis Carrington.
  • And plunging necklines (if I have to explain this one it’s already much too late). Oh Crystal.
  • Turtlenecks – let’s face it only Diane Keaton can pull these off. Save them for the Hamptons.


  • Same goes for those of you who have lost weight since your last pictures were taken. Swimming around in a dress or pants that are too big may make you appear bigger than you are – or just look like the clothes swallowed you up.


Don’t forget how important a role the iron and lint roller play today.

While Photoshop can take care of hairs and wrinkles here and there, it is important to come prepared with clothes that have been properly pressed and de-cattified.

Head spinning? Don’t sweat it.

Bring options – ties, jewelry, shirts, jackets, etc. Relax. Give yourself a look in the mirror before your session, perk yourself up and try and have fun. Everyone’s goal is a great picture of you.