First impressions are everything. Whether it’s an addition to your CV for a prospective employer or as a human face on your companies emails, you’ll need a great professional headshot to create the ideal first impression. The way you ensure quality photographs is 80% down to your preparation before you even step into the studio, so let’s go over some tips to ensure you look your best on the day of your shoot.
Consider your outfit for the perfect professional headshot
Think about what you would expect from a professional in your industry, are they wearing shorts, thongs and a t shirt with a logo? Chances are probably not, so ensure that your outfit is suitable for the occasion, and relevant for your profession. So that means a dress shirt and jacket in most instances for men and a smart blouse and conservative skirt for women.
Be sure to avoid bright, light or heavily patterned clothing or clothing with thin lines. These lose their impact considerably when viewing on computer and camera screens and will inevitably blend together due to something called the “moiré effect” which is when thin or overly complicated designs, blend together to create a secondary pattern.
Patterns may look great in real life or tie your outfit together but ultimately in the small space of a professional photograph will create unnecessary distraction and keep you looking your best on the day of the photo shoot.
While you are choosing your outfit for your headshot session, think about how well presented each item of clothing is. Your clothing should be neatly pressed or dry cleaned, this is as important as personal grooming prior to the shoot.
A great tip is to plan your clothing choices days before your shoot. There’s nothing worse than rushing around deciding on clothing choices just before the photo session, causing you to arrive late with creased and untidy clothing. Having made the wrong clothing choices due to time pressure. You should also discuss this in detail with your photographer well before your photo session.
Think about the styling of your hair well in advance of your professional headshot session. When consulting with your photographer they should give you tips on hair styling that works for headshot photography, relevant to your profession.
For women keep the styling straight forward. Headshots are all about your eyes and connection with the viewer. Hair plays a secondary role, it should still speak volumes about you but not be the feature of the show.
Men’s hairstyling can say a lot about their personality, from rugged looks to neatly groomed, short or longer styles. Bearded, closely shaved or with stubble. Your career will hold the key with styling, a musician or architect will have an entirely different look to someone in an executive role.
There are so many variables for designing a headshot with hair alone. Texture and light come into play here. Ask yourself how you want to come across in projecting your personal branding and tell your photographer your preferences.
Armed with these tips, however, allow me to paint you a picture.
So you spent the previous evening having your skirt and blouse dry cleaned and pressed, you’ve painstakingly applied all of your make-up and carefully considered your accessories and how they tie in with your outfit.
Now you’re all ready to face your photographer’s unforgiving lens? Well then you ruin it all by forgetting about those pesky high winds that will turn your hair from something from a shampoo commercial into something you would find hanging out of a birds nest.
Just avoid the hassle and bring a hairbrush and maybe some other grooming products to fix up anything that life may throw at you between your front door and the studio.
Stop the Shine
This may seem an obvious one but you’d be surprised how many people overlook this. Powerful, artificial lights are part and parcel of photography and as such your face is likely to be saturated with light. This is to achieve the best possible lighting to make your photograph look as flattering as possible.
It’s therefore important that you clean your face well and ensure it is as free from any oil and sweat as humanly possible to avoid your face appearing shiny or greasy.
So ladies, apply a bit of concealer and gentlemen wash your face to avoid that “I just ran from home to work” look.
A really good resource that I found useful when compiling this list was Adam Bronkhurst’s checklist of things to consider when having a professional headshot taken. It goes into a lot of detail and is a great piece that I recommend taking a quick look at.