I am frequently asked “what should I wear for my headshot?”. Here are my top tips based on fifteen years of shooting. Remember these tips are only thought-starters aimed towards standard corporate head shots – there are no hard and fast rules. What business you’re in and where your image will be displayed will have a huge influence.
Dress accordingly. Your clothing should not be a distraction. Consider the context of the photograph and how this photograph will be used – most likely these photos will be used externally to present you to your clients or in PR materials.
Is there a dress code? If your colleagues are being photographed too, should you all be dressed in a similar way?
Dress confidently – if you feel confident and comfortable in your clothes, it will come across in your photo … and vice versa.
Plain clothing is better. This shot is about your presenting your face. Avoid strong patterns, logos, text, images, contrasting trim and shiny fabrics which will all distract from your face. Wear colours that compliment your skin, eye and hair tones. Good fabric textures can work well.
It is wise to avoid very fashionable trends as the photo will date quickly.
Collared formal shirts are generally better than casual. Women have more choice with blouse and shirt necklines, but quite often collars work best too. Please, get your shirt ironed!
Don’t show too much flesh. I recommend not to wear a blouse or shirt that shows bare arms, bare shoulders or has a plunging neckline. Within the tight framing of the head and shoulders portrait, the unexpected and inappropriate consequence of too much skin can be that you look almost naked.
Wearing a jacket looks more formal, just a shirt or blouse less so but may look out of place if all your colleagues are wearing jackets.
Jewellery should not be too overt but can be very effective if used appropriately.
Glasses are a matter of choice. If you are not easily recognised without them then it is probably best to wear them. If you do want to wear them, make sure the lenses are clean.
Bring options. If you are unsure what to wear, bring in a couple of options and ask for advice.
Hair, Make-up and Grooming
You would be astonished at the number of people who present themselves in front of my camera without having done basic grooming such as shaving, brushing their hair or scraping the remains of lunch off their tie.
Check yourself over in a mirror just beforehand.
If you are planning to get a haircut, do so a few days before. Bring whatever you need with you on the day to get your hair looking right.
Make-up should be neutral and even, just as you wear normally (there is no need to try to apply heavy ‘photographic’ make-up). Pay attention to detail. Again, bring whatever you need with you on the day.
Gentlemen, if you shave regularly, pay attention to detail.
Above all, you need to feel comfortable and that your appearance expresses you the way you want to be portrayed. If you can get this right, you will feel much more confident which will in turn come across in your photograph and make for a better shot.
Best of luck!