Your Headshot Photograph

Getting the right look to your headshot photograph is very important. It will not only show people who you are, but how you want to be seen. It’s more important in my opinion initially than a CV as it is the first impression your customers or potential employers will have of you. It sets the tone for how you want them to view you and so whether they will decide to continue to engage with you, or not. Ultimately it is the key to your own personal branding.
Many customers or employers will do an internet search for your name to see any background they can find on you. Old and current headshot photographs will come up, so you’ll want to have some good ones on there!
If you follow my advice below, you’ll easily get the kind of shot you want them to find.

Preparation for your Headshot Photograph

Preparing for your headshot photograph is all important. Many people will have their headshot photography arranged for them. As a result they’ll generally, in my experience, just want to turn up to the shoot and hope the photographer will work their magic getting a great shot. However, there really is only so much a photographer can do. As a London headshot photographer I will create sympathetic lighting, use lenses that give lovely crisp effects, have a good background and post process your headshot beautifully. Even so, unless I know you personally, or have plenty of time to talk to you and take some test shots, I won’t know how you would like to be photographed. Generally I will get a few minutes per person, not enough time to talk through all the options. By this time it is also too late to get different clothes or change the way you look.
As a result, having a think through how you’d like to be photographed well before you arrive for your headshot will make a huge difference to whether you get a headshot you love and will use for many years to come, or get one you won’t be proud of.

What to Wear

It’s very important you wear not only something that presents how you want to be seen, but also that you are comfortable in.
Do you want to look businesslike or relaxed and casual? Rather than thinking about how you’d like to look, think about who will be looking at your headshot and how you’d like them to see you. Do you want to stand out from the crowd, or blend in?
Make sure whatever you wear is clean and freshly pressed if that’s the look you are after. Avoid stripes and patterns as they tend to draw the eye.
The same is true of wearing white. The eye is drawn to the lightest thing in a photograph, so I would avoid white shirts or tops unless worn under a jacket. Again with a white top, if the headshot is on a white background, then it will blend in making you look a bit like a floating head!
Flesh colours and pastels don’t tend to be very good either, mid tones are generally the best.
Having said that, if you have a colour that suits you best, then that’s what you should wear, as long as it isn’t white!
Have a think about a neckline that suits you and avoid bare arms. You can make a statement with jewellery, tattoos and very colourful outfits, though it’s important to think about how you will feel about your headshot in six months, or even a few years time. Remember, the internet has a very long memory!

Other Things to Think About Before your Headshot

Make up

I’ve often been asked if I can supply a make up artist for the shoot. I certainly can and know some very good ones. However, on the occasions I have used one I have had mixed results. Generally, unless you can do a trial with the makeup artist, it’s best not to experiment on the day. Doing your makeup yourself means you will get the results you want and look the way you will expect. It’s also worth mentioning that the camera doesn’t either shed or add on any pounds to you, so just do your makeup the way you’d like it!

Hair

Having a good and clean shave, if that’s the way you want to look, is a good idea for the guys, and I wouldn’t advise a haircut or hair colouring in the week before.

Glasses

Do you wear glasses? If so it’s a good idea to decide if you want to wear them for the headshot or not. I can alternatively do some shots with them and without.
If you aren’t going to wear them for your headshot, or if you are going to have a mix of shots with them on and off, then it’s very important to take your glasses off shortly before your headshot so there are no marks on your face from the nose pads.

How You Want to Come Across in your Headshot

You are very welcome to talk to me when we do your headshot, about how you want to come across. However it is worth having a think about it beforehand, and maybe talk it through with your partner, or a close friend, so you come prepared. For instance, do you have a best side? Do you turn a certain way when you do a selfie? Do you like photographs of yourself smiling, or do you prefer a more enigmatic look?

Things to do Just Before Your Headshot

A visit to the bathroom to look in the mirror to check makeup, hair and straighten any clothes is always a very good idea. It’s also good to take some deep breaths and just stretch a little as most people are understandably a bit tense before a headshot. Looking hunched up isn’t a good look in a headshot! Posture is very important.
As I’ve mentioned above, remember to take your glasses off if you aren’t going to wear them for your headshot, or if you are going to have a mix of shots with them on and off.

In Conclusion

Most people are quite nervous about being photographed for a headshot. It’s totally understandable, however, this often comes from a fear of the unknown and a concern I may have you do something embarrassing, or make you look silly. Rest assured none of these things will happen on a shoot with me as the photographer. No one likes being photographed in front of their work colleagues, so I try to avoid that, though unfortunately it is often unavoidable.
When taking your headshot, I will get you comfortable in front of the camera, chat briefly about how you want to look and then get cracking on the shots themselves. It generally only takes a minute or two, though sometimes longer if you want to try a couple of different looks.


It’s worth mentioning I’ve purposely not separated this article into men & women sections as there is so much overlap now depending on the industry I am shooting for.

If you enjoyed this article , then you might find a couple of other ones I’ve written interesting too. Here’s one about the different types of headshots. Here’s one from a headshot shoot I did for the Publishers Association.

If you are considering booking me as your headshot photographer, then you can use my contact page to ask any questions, get a quote, or to book me.