Professional Head Shots: How to prepare!

First lets define what a professional head shot is! It’s a close-up portrait of the head and shoulders that focuses attention on the face. People assume it to mean a 3/4 or full length shot that they are going to use for business marketing too. A lot of us need great head shots to make a statement about who we are and what we do. Consider an actor who wants to land a role in a movie, or a model that wishes to star in the next big fashion craze or the athlete that represents his team – Professionals need head shots to market their image and help sell their brand or business.  No business owner or professional wants to be portrayed in a negative manner because it will carry over into their reputation. The quality and style of your head shot conveys how you conduct business.


So, what is it that makes a great head shot?

A good headshot should:

  • – Be taken by a professional in a studio or on location in a controlled environment at the right time of the day

  • – Depict a relaxed, natural and comfortable you

  • – Communicate your style and personality

  • – Clearly define the purpose or need you have for the image

How do you prepare for a professional head shot?

In the week prior to your photo shoot, consider taking extra care of yourself. Think about the style of shoot you want and communicate that clearly with your photographer.


The largest and most visible organ you have needs to look its best. Make healthy choices. Avoid the sun so you don’t come in looking like a lobster after a day of going for “sun kissed”. Drink plenty of water, this will make your skin hydrated to fill in lines and give you a healthy glow. Eat healthy and most importantly, GET YOUR SLEEP!


Don’t cut or dye your hair right before the shoot. It can look too vibrant and unnatural on camera. Colored hair looks more natural after 1-2 weeks worth of shampooing. A new hair cut looks its best about a week after it’s cut.


If you want to whiten your teeth before your session, start as early as possible and use a safe whitening method. Also, you can have your teeth whitened with your dentist.


The best rule of thumb for facial hair is to commit to the look -it’s either a beard, mustache, or nothing at all. If  you’re going for clean shaven, treat yourself to a good shave that morning. If you have a beard or mustache, trim it neatly.


Treat yourself to a manicure or neatly trim your nails (yes fella’s this applies to you too!). If you choose to polish, a neutral/skin tone or clear coat won’t distract from your face. Many women enjoy french tips and designs, so……if you and your girlfriends had a spa day and you’re a rainbow girl, just be conscious of how it matches your wardrobe for the photo shoot.


This is a big one, and we definitely recommend it. If you hire a make up artist be sure to discuss exactly what you want and clearly define your style. I wouldn’t recommend going completely bomb shell if you rarely ever wear make up. This won’t be who your client sees everyday and it’s best to stay natural to you. If you are doing your make up yourself, don’t wear it heavy. A close head shot may show clumps of mascara or heavy foundation. Think of accentuating your features in a subtle manner.


Choose the exact clothing and accessories to wear the day before. Make sure they are clean and pressed ready for your shoot and that they fit you appropriately. I find it helpful when clients bring options, you don’t have to limit yourself to one item. Choose wisely as you don’t want to be able to tell what decade the photo came from. I typically recommend nothing with bold, distracting patterns or colors because it takes the emphasis away from you. Safe color choices include dark solids and lighter soft shades. Avoid white unless you have a great tan or it’s under something (such as a jacket, cardigan, or sweater). V-necks accentuate the neckline and are great for men and women (just watch that cleavage ladies, keep that classic beauty).


Rule of thumb, ties look best when their tone is between the suit and the shirt. Stay away from really reflective, shiny silk ties only because it can be a distraction in-camera. As far as jewelry goes, something small, classic and also not reflective. You don’t necessarily want a client viewing your head shot only to notice your jewelry before noticing your face.

Don’t Rush

We don’t want having your head shot to be “just one more thing” you have to do. Know or GPS the location of your shoot and allow yourself plenty of time to get there. Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes to spend at the studio before your shoot. A comfortable pace will help minimize stress and bring out your best.


You should feel that your photographer cares about you, so ask questions! We will take the time to answer and put you at ease. This is your shoot after all, we are here to support you. Look up and make eye contact with the camera. It eases camera shyness and promotes a genuine expression. As professional photographers we are good at detailing your vision. We’ll do our best to get the shots you want, but we can’t read your mind. Be honest. If you want something special or different, or if you were unhappy with a previous headshot experience, tell us. On that note, if we adjust your posture and ask you to move a certain way, we really are being that technical to give you the best image. The camera sees differently that the human eye, we’re moving you to make the camera see YOU in the most flattering way.

Lastly – stay up to date with your photos. In the digital age, things move fast and decisions are made sometimes within seconds. Make the best first impression possible!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.