One of the most common questions I get asked when commissioned for business headshots is, “What should I wear?” It’s a question I get asked by both men and women alike. Colours, tones, patterns or no patterns, light or dark—it can all be enough to make your head spin!
For this post, I’d like to focus only on women who might still be on the fence about what to wear for their next business headshots session. Some people put as much emphasis on this as they might for their wedding photography! You can also see some great tips here about how to get the best out of your time in front of the camera.
I’ve been shooting women’s business headshots for many years now and the biggest concern I hear is “What to wear?” and sometimes “What NOT to wear?”
Well, have no fear.
I have built up a wealth of experience which I have distilled down to a shortlist of considerations to make the decision of what to wear for your business headshot as easy as pie.
Follow the advice and I’ll have you feeling comfortable, confident, and fearless so when you step in front of the camera you know the result is going to be a picture you’ll love.
Preparation is everything when it comes to your headshot.
There are lots of things that can affect the end result, from making sure you get enough sleep the night before, to taking a few minutes to compose your thoughts and clear your mind of the worries of the day before you start.
Deciding what to wear is a big part of that preparation. Getting it right will have you feeling positive and upbeat but getting it wrong can have you feeling uncomfortable, hesitant, and tentative.
First of all, think about the persona and tone you’d like to project. Depending on the culture of your company, you may want to convey an air of formality, knowledge, and trust. Or, maybe the look you want is creative, friendly, hip! Either way, decide the tone you’re going for before the day of the shoot to nail down the feeling you’d like to convey for your company.
Make sure the outfit you choose is something you love and feel completely comfortable wearing. Something that’s comfortable in the fit as well as comfortable with the look and style.
Ill-fitting clothes can make you look heavier than you really are, especially if the fit is too loose or too tight.
If the clothes are too loose, your shape will be lost in the photo. Even in a headshot, it will make a difference to the look of your shoulders and neckline. Too tight, and you risk showing button holes pulling and seams stretching.
4. Patterns or Plain
It’s of my opinion that strong patterns should be avoided on the day of the shoot. Most of the time, they only serve to distract. You want the viewer of the headshot to see your facial expression, not the expression of your clothing, so wear something that only adds to the tone you’re trying to convey.
MID-TONE PLAIN COLOURS are universally flattering and help the image stand out on a page. They convert well to black and white as well.
BLACK is sombre, guarded, and safe. It probably doesn’t portray the traits you are wanting to project. If you usually wear a lot of black, try substituting it for richer, more neutral colours. Colours such as navy, chocolate, maroon, or dark green.
PASTEL COLOURS, cream or beige, are often similar to flesh tones and can look week, washed-out, and unflattering to your skin.
6. To Bear Arms or Wear Sleeves
Avoid sleeveless tops, as bare arms highlight the contrast between the tone and colour of your arms in contrast to your face. You also risk showing your armpits in certain poses, and that should be avoided unless it falls in line with the tone you’d like to convey for your company.
7. Jacket On of Jacket Off
It’s an easy way to create 2 different looks — Jacket on or jacket off.
A crisply ironed shirt by itself will give you a look that works well across many different sectors and looks great under a jacket too.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with textures and layers. A scarf or pashmina can be an easy change between a summer look and a winter look. It will also change your neckline and add volume, texture, and dimension to the photo.
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. When it’s tied back, it will look better with volume rather than being pulled back too tight. And please remember to bring a hairbrush for last-minute adjustments.
Stills photography, unlike film or video, requires a much lighter hand with the makeup brush. Keep it light and natural and remember that it’s the eyes and mouth that the person viewing your photo will focus on.
If you’re susceptible to shiney skin consider bringing translucent powder which will reduce shine, make your skin look even and your pores look smaller. Avoid products with sparkles!
Please remember to arrive with your makeup complete. And if you like the idea of a professional makeup artist, you’re not alone! I often work with them and I can recommend a few options if you’d like to book one for the shoot.
Bonus Tip: Glasses
It’s fine to wear glasses for your shoot. If they’re part of you, then they need to be included. But they need to be spotlessly clean because any fingermarks or dust will show up on the final image. If you wear them at your desk but won’t be wearing them for the photos, please make sure that you take them off at least half an hour before the shoot. The last thing you want is those little red marks on the side of your nose showing up in the photo!
At the end of the day, it’s all about wearing clothes that feel right to you and have you feeling positive and self-assured. This will shine out in the photos and you’ll be excited to upload your new business headshot to your profile page or LinkedIn.
Follow the advise above and I guarantee you’ll love your photos. In fact, if you don’t love the pictures, my promise to you is that I’ll be back to shoot them again for free!
P.S. It’s a little known fact that 20% of all time on LinkedIn is spent looking at profile pictures. So make sure you take the steps necessary to make sure your headshot really stands out and shows the best side of your business.