What Should I Wear For My Headshot Photos?

What Should I Wear For My Headshot Photos?

What to wear for your headshot photo session

Not sure what to wear for your new head shot? Paul's seven expert tips will help you out.

One of the most common questions I'm asked by my customers is “What should I wear for my head shot?”. Deciding what to wear (and what not to wear) is a big part of preparing for your professional headshot session. My headshot photo shoot sessions (in fact, all of my photo shoot sessions) are relaxed, but feeling comfortable with what you are wearing will be one more thing to help you feel positive and confident in front of the camera.

I’ve compiled a list of 7 easy tips to help you select what to wear and help you prepare for your session. When you step in front of the camera you'll know that the end result is going to be headshot photos you will love.

Tip 1: Think about why you are having headshot photos

I have written this for anyone considering having professional headshot photography but that actually covers a wide range of people from actors, dancers, and musicians to corporate business employees and individuals. We live in a visual world and so high quality images can be useful to help you stand out whether it's for your social media profile, a corporate web site, a dating site or a casting agency.

Image shows a woman sitting on a chair

So, my advice is to think about your personal brand and persona. What persona and tone would you like to project? For traditional business and corporate head shots you may want to convey an air of formality, expertise, and trust. For start-ups or creatives you may want a look that is friendly, creative or trendy. For acting, singing, dance or modelling agency headshots, you want to be selected for a role. If you need to send your photos to an agency, they may have rules about the type of photos they will accept (for example a white or black background, head and shoulders plus ¾ length photos etc).
Decide on the look and tone you’re going for before your photo shoot so you know what you’d like to convey. Your new headshots are your first step in projecting your persona and I will work with any requirements you may have to create exactly the look you want. This is what I was able to do when I was approached by author Eliza Harrison for images to support her new book launch. Eliza had a specific requirement for a mottled grey background in her images.

"I went to Paul Holland Photography for a set of photos that could be used on my company's website which was being updated. I was a bit apprehensive but Paul's relaxed and thoroughly professional manner made it easy. The finished photos were excellent - it was me, only on a good day! Based on my experience, I would highly recommend Paul to anyone wanting a quality photographic service."

Tip 2: Don’t let your clothes get all the attention.

Your choice of outfit will play an important role, however the most important part of any headshot is your expression and connection with the camera. Your headshots need to convey the right message for you. I will guide and direct you through your headshots session so your body language, eye contact and expression show you in a way which looks like the genuine you, at your best.

Your clothes should support this so that they strengthen your image rather than drawing the attention away from your face. So, what should you bring to wear and what shouldn't you wear?

Tip 3: Bring these items to achieve a variety of looks

Before I mention what to bring, it's important to say make sure the outfits you choose are something you love and that you will feel comfortable wearing. You need to be comfortable with the way your clothing fits as well as being comfortable with the style. If you are not sure, there's nothing to stop you bringing several different outfits and I will help you choose which ones will look best in your head shot photographs.

I recommend bringing a variety of tops.
For women, tops with different neck lines are a great way to ensure you have a wide choice of headshots. Scarves are a great way of adding variety and texture into your image.
For men, different shirts (with a tie if you want to wear one) will give you a good variety of images.

Bring a jacket! It’s a quick and easy way to create two different looks. A blouse or shirt by itself will give you one look that works well and slipping a jacket on is a quick and easy way to create more variety.

Black and white image of a man

Glasses - It’s fine to wear glasses for your photo shoot. If you normally wear glasses all of the time, then they need to be included in your photos. Remember to clean them so you don't have fingermarks or dust showing in the final images. If you wear them at your desk or for driving but won’t be wearing them for the photos, try to make sure that you take them off at least half an hour before your shoot so you won't have indentation marks on the side of your nose. The same goes for wristwatches too if you normally wear one and intend removing it before your photo shoot.
Often, when customers wear glasses all the time, I get asked if I will take some photos without their glasses and I'm happy to oblige, just let me know during your headshot session.

When it comes to jewellery, a simple pair of earrings can work well. If you wear a necklace, it should compliment the neckline of your top. Some poses may include your hands and arms so a bracelet or bangle could also be worn.

You don't need to spend a lot of money on new clothes but it’s important that the clothes you bring to wear fit well and don’t look old. I recommend trying your clothes on a week before your headshot session to check how they feel and fit. Suitably fitted clothes (avoid anything too baggy or too tight) will always be the most flattering.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with textures and layers. A scarf can be an easy change between a summer look and a winter look. It will also change your neckline and add volume and texture to the photos.

Well-fitted clothing will enhance your headshots but whatever you bring, make sure you feel good wearing it.

Tip 4: Choosing the right colours

Safe colours to bring include mid tone colours. These colours are deeper than pastels but not as saturated as bright colours. Colours such as greys, greens and blues are flattering. Dark, earthy colours and and neutral tones work well too.

If you know which colour palette works best for you, bring options in those colours, or try hues which bring out your eye colour and flatter your skin tone.

Image shows a woman against a white background

Avoid strong or very bright colours as these will dominate your photographs and the colour may reflect onto your face and neck under studio lighting or bright sunlight.

When pastel colours such as beige or cream are similar to flesh tones they can give an overall effect that's washed out with very little contrast. This will give you images that just don't stand out so try to avoid too many pastel colours.

Black can be a popular choice but you need to consider if it suits the persona you want to project. Black clothing suits darker backgrounds and with the right lighting it can create a moody effect. That may be the look you are going for but if you would prrefer an alternative darker colour, try dark brown, maroon, or dark green.

If you bring a selection of clothes I can recommend which outfits will look best, based on your skin tone, hair and eye colour.

Image shows a woman

Tip 5: Things to avoid

I have already mentioned that the feature of your headshot images should be your face so it's best to make sure that your clothing supports this aim rather than making it more difficult! Here are some things to avoid:
Avoid sleeveless tops if possible, as bare arms can look too bright and create lots of contrast with darker clothing.
Colours to avoid are anything too strong, such as bold red, fluorescent yellow or bright pink, as these tend to draw the attention away from the face. Bright colours may also reflect onto your face and neck and affect your skin tone in the image. Neon green skin is not a good look!
Patterns: In general, plain solid colour clothes work best, as patterns can be a distraction (remember the focus of the portrait should be your face, not the clothes). Smaller patterns can work but larger ones are best avoided.
The same applies to logos; avoid wearing anything with a distracting logo.

Tip 6: Don’t forget to iron.

Make sure that your clothes are neatly ironed before the shoot. If your top is wrinkled in real life, it will appear wrinkled in the photos.
I suggest to clients to get changed once they arrive at the studio to avoid any creasing that can happen when travelling to the studio wearing your outfit.

Tip 7: Grooming

Being well groomed is essential preparation for your photo:
Hair - If you want to vary your hairstyle during the shoot, please do!
We can try some shots with your hair tied up and some with it down. Don't forget to bring a hairbrush for last-minute adjustments.

Image shows a woman against a black background

Hands and fingernails may be visible in some of the photos so if you wear nail varnish remember to reapply or remove before your photo shoot.
Keep your makeup simple and natural looking. For actors it’s essential that you look like you do in your headshot photos. Remember to bring your makeup with you so you can reapply it if required.
Recently cut or styled hair is a good idea, and don’t be afraid to take a few moments to check everything in the mirror before the session starts.

In essence, it’s all about wearing clothes that feel right and that will have you feeling positive and self-assured. This will shine out in the photos and you’ll be excited to upload and share your new headshot images.

I hope this guide has helped prepare you for your headshot session. You can always contact me at the studio if you still have questions.


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