The Do’s and Don’ts for the Perfect Headshot

Everyone has a preference, a specific idea of what they like and don’t like. While that may be just fine when ordering your dinner at a restaurant where you can pick and choose what goes on your salad, it works a little differently when taking head shots. After years of experience in the photography world, I’ve learned there are some very simple rules to getting the right shot that get overlooked on a regular basis by my clients. Here are your “do’s” and “don’ts” to the perfect headshot:


Hire a hair and make-up artist:
Time and time again, clients will come in for a shoot and do all their primping on their own. While they may look great in the mirror, what shows up on camera can be much different. That’s why I highly recommend hiring a professional who knows exactly how to style you for the lens.

Arrive clean-shaven and showered:
I know, this sounds like an obvious one but it’s surprising how many times this isn’t taken into consideration. Every feature, every hair and every detail is enhanced on camera. Always arrive to the shoot freshly shaven and ready to knock ‘em dead.

Bring wardrobe options – more is better:
Clothing options are key to a good executive shoot. I recommend bringing lots of choices, especially collared fitted shirts. For men, polo shirts are great for a casual look and button-downs photograph well for an executive. Women photograph well in fitted button-down shirts or dresses. But make sure you bring clothing options you feel confident wearing!

Get enough sleep before your session:
A commonly overlooked detail is how rested you are on the day of your shoot. The camera catches everything, including how well rested you are. Even if your skin is flawless, little wrinkles show up when you haven’t gotten enough beauty sleep. So, get some solid shut-eye before your shoot and you’ll photograph like a star.

Like I was saying, the camera catches everything. It even picks up on your mood, no matter how hard you’re smiling. Rest assured that if you feel cool, calm and collected, your photos will reflect that. And for anything else, don’t worry – I can retouch.


Be in a hurry:
Shooting executives and busy professionals can be stressful. They’re either planning a meeting or running out the door to an appointment. I suggest to plan accordingly for your shoot. An appointment with me usually takes up to an hour, and I guarantee you’ll shoot leaps and bounds better if you’re present than if you’re already one foot out the door.

Show up hungover:
Being fresh-faced and rested is pivotal to your photos. I’m sure that if you had a few too many the night before, you won’t be excited to pose for an hour the next day. Be sure to get some good rest, stay hydrated and cut back before your session. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t drink during the shoot:
While having a drink to loosen you up on the set of a shoot might sound like a great idea, it doesn’t turn out too well. The camera picks up even the slightest redness in a person’s eyes and the flushing of their skin. It’s best to stick with water instead of a glass of red.

Over-do it: less is more:
Going back to the tip above about hiring a hair and make-up artist: less is more. When they’re getting you ready for your shoot, they’ll know exactly how much to do and when to stop. This rule is especially true for your clothing. It’s best to stick with simple, basic options so the attention is drawn to your face rather than the print on your clothes. Think basic, think plain. Let your features be the focal point.

Run the show:
Let the photographer lead you during the shoot. Many times, clients will try to position themselves like they would for a picture on Instagram, but those poses don’t translate into a headshot or executive portrait. Take direction and have fun! It’s just a picture, after all.

End note: Don’t settle on your choice of photographer. Give me a call and make an appointment today.

One Response to “The Do’s and Don’ts for the Perfect Headshot”

  1. Ira Ellis

    Of course Photoshop will help adjust most all of the above problems. The suggestions though, were well said. You’re still one of the best.


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