A headshot is often your first impression. Be prepared to look your best.
Preparing yourself and your clothes is the most important thing you can do to look your best for your headshots. If you look your best, you're going to feel confident, and this will come out in your headshots. Here are some tips to choose the right clothes and be prepared so you get the best results.
It's no secret that a good night sleep will help you look healthy and refreshed and prevent those dark circles and bags under your eyes. The number one thing we see people most critical about in their own headshot are the bags under their eyes, so we recommend getting plenty of sleep the one or two nights leading up to your headshot session.
If for some reason you didn't get much sleep and you do have bags under your eyes, applying a cold compress to the area will help reduce the swelling. If you booked our makeup artist, the makeup will help reduce the appearance of swelling or darkness, and we can further reduce it in retouching, but this shouldn't be a substitute for getting plenty of sleep.
Wash, cut, trim, shave
- Wash your face before the session to remove dirt and oil from your skin and to reduce shine.
- If you have dry skin, apply moisturizer the night before your session to give it time to absorb. Do not apply face lotion the day of your session - it will make your face shiny under the lights.
- Acne or other skin conditions can be removed or reduced in retouching or with makeup.
- A fresh hair cut is key to looking sharp; however, if you get it cut the same day as your headshot session, remember to rinse your hair and wash your face and neck so you do not have small pieces of hair on your face, neck, and ears.
- Trim your ear, nose, and eyebrow hairs if needed.
- If you shave daily, we recommend shaving within 4 hours of your session, before that 5 o’clock shadow starts to appear. You may want to book a morning session or bring your razor with you and shave at our studio. If you have a beard, make sure it’s neatly trimmed. If you have razor cuts or irritation, these can be removed in retouching.
Hair & Makeup
When is the last time you worried about being shiny or if you had a few hairs out of place?
Your headshot is a moment in time that will represent you and how people to perceive you, so it's a good opportunity to make sure you look your best. Hair and makeup is not just for film and television. Studio photography requires professional studio lighting similar to the lighting used for professional video, so that shine on your nose and forehead or that redness from too much sun will be noticeable. For men and women both, we highly recommend booking our professional hair and makeup artist for your session.
Makeup will significantly remove shine on your face, cover up blemishes, and balance out skin tone and color so you look your absolute best. Our hair and makeup artists will also style and tame your hair throughout the session to keep it looking neat. Unruly hair and a shiny face often keeps people from looking their absolute best and most presentable in their headshots.
If you plan on applying your own makeup, the most important thing is to wear a photo quality matte powder makeup that will reduce sine on your face. Also, try to balance out your skin tone and color, especially if you have red areas. Please bring your makeup with you to your session for touchups.
We recommend getting a hair cut within three days of your headshot session. If you have a hairstyle that requires moderate to complex styling, we recommend booking your session in the morning so your hair is still in it's best condition; this is especially important if you curl your hair or if your hair is prone to frizz later in the day. If you have a specific hair product you like to use, please bring it with you.
Our Professional Hair & Makeup Options
Basic Hair & Makeup - $99
The basic hair and makeup option is recommended for all men, as well as women who want light natural makeup and basic hair styling.. The makeup application is intended to balance out your skin tone and eliminate shine so your face looks clean, fresh, awake, and you look your best under the lights. The stylist will also smooth out frizz and flyaways on your hair and provide hair and makeup touchups throughout your session.
Full Hair & Makeup - $199
The full hair and makeup option includes everything in the basic option plus more beauty oriented makeup, such as foundation, concealer, blush and bronzer, eyeshadow, eyebrow shaping, and contouring, as well as full hairstyling, which includes blowouts, curls, straightening, etc.
Our stylists will not wash, cut, or color your hair or provide any salon services. Please arrive with clean hair ready to be styled; however, try not to not shampoo your the day of your session as this will make your hair more difficult to style.
If you have special requests not covered by these two options or if you have any hair and makeup questions, please contact us.
If you wish to book one of our professional hair and makeup artists for your session, please select one of the hair and makeup options when you Book Online, or if you have already booked your session, contact us to add it to your session.
Wearing proper fitting clothes is the most overlooked and one of the most important steps you can take to look your best in your headshot and in everyday life. Get that suit and those shirts tailored or buy fitted shirts and suits. For both men and women, off-the-rack shirts and jackets that are noticeably too big or too small for you will not be flattering for your body and will make slim people look slimmer and large people look larger. Overall, improper fitting clothes will result in a sloppy, unprofessional look, and there is not much we can do even in retouching to fix this.
What To Wear
- Consider choosing clothing and accessories with a timeless style, not trendy fashion that will be out of style in the near future and that will date your headshot, unless you plan on keeping it updated.
- Pants and shoes do not matter; we only photograph your upper body.
- Suits are common for most headshots we do and a suit will definitely make you look more confident. Even if you don't wear a suit for your daily work attire, if you own a well-fitting suit, we recommend bringing it and taking at least a few photos in it so you will have a more formal headshot if you ever need one. It's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
- Suit jackets are recommended for both men and women. Jackets are designed to give your body a flattering shape and frame your face. If you have a thin body-type, jackets will make your shoulders appear more broad. If you have a larger body type, jackets will add a defined structure with vertical lines, framing the body and making it look neatly self-contained.
- For jackets, especially women's jackets, choose one where the lapels create a 'V' shaped front, which is much more flattering than the straight up and down front (known as mandarin collars).
- Women, we understand there are some jackets that don't button, however, we recommend wearing a jacket that does button. Buttoning your jacket will create the flattering 'V' shape front and also prevent the fabric from hanging loose around your body. If you don't have a jacket that buttons, we can use a small clamp in the studio.
- Women, avoid blouses and jackets that have loose hanging fabric in the sleeves. If the fabric fills the area between your arms and torso, your body will appear larger than it actually is, especially with dark clothes.
- Jewelry should be simple and professional. Necklaces are always a great addition, especially if you are wearing a low-cut tops or deep V jackets. Thin chains are okay but can get lost in a photo. Thick or multi-strand necklaces, especially pearls, have proven to work well in headshots we've done. See our portfolio for examples.
- Men, if you will be wearing a button shirt without a tie for a more casual look, make sure you wear a v-neck under-shirt so it is not visible when your top buttons are undone.
- Make sure your clothes are wrinkle and lint free before arriving. We do have a clothes steamer and lint rollers on hand if you need to use them, but keep in mind, the more time we spend preparing your clothes, the less time we have to shoot.
- Professional outfits for men: Suit with tie, suit without tie, dress shirt with tie, dress shirt without tie, sport coat with dress shirt, dress shirt with tie under v-neck sweater, dress shirt without tie under v-neck sweater.
- Professional outfits for women: Suit jacket with button-up shirt, button-up shirt alone, suit jacket with blouse (silk shirt, bow-tie blouse, cowl neck blouse), cardigan with blouse, blouse alone, suit jacket with professional dress, cardigan with dress, dress alone.
- Consider browsing high-end clothing catalogs for inspiration. The models in catalogs are professionally styled and you'll get a good visual of clothing and color combinations.
If your clothes are outdated, in poor condition, do not fit properly, and especially if you do not own any clothes you feel absolutely confident in, please consider going shopping and purchasing some new clothes for your headshots. You can always return them after your session and you will be much happier with your headshots.
Colors and tones
- You cannot go wrong with matching colors in your outfit with the color of your eyes.
- Blue looks great on almost everybody, especially if you have light brown or blonde hair.
- Solid colors and tones always work best. It is good to have contrast between dark and light tones, such as a darker jacket with a lighter colored shirt. Most jackets are neutral colors and our backdrop is neutral, so adding a color into your outfit with a tie, shirt, or pocket square creates a nice accent.
- A dark jacket with a white shirt will always appear more formal. Blue jackets for men usually always photograph well and are a great choice for a more approachable look. Charcoal to medium gray, and navy jackets are the most versatile and pair well with most color shirts and ties. Light gray jackets are more casual and are a great way to stand out. Black jackets are not the best choice because they don't show any definition between the arms and body, which can make people appear wider than they are.
- A good rule of thumb is to match the tone of your jacket with the tone of your hair; this will help frame your face and create balance in the image. However, if you have black hair, a charcoal gray, blue, or navy jacket will look better than a black jacket.
- Men, blue suits look modern and sharp and are a great way to stand out in the crowd of black and gray suits.
- For men and women, a solid white or medium-blue shirt paired with a medium to dark jacket is a safe and classic choice.
- Ties should always be darker than your shirt.
- The human eye is drawn to the brightest part of a photo, so avoid wearing a bright-tone shirt without a jacket. If you will not be wearing a jacket, go with a medium to dark-tone shirt.
The color wheel below will help you match multiple pieces of colored clothing, which will create a balance and contrast in your outfit.
Complimentary colors directly across the wheel from each other will create a vivid contrast, draw attention, and will stand out.
Triad colors create the most balanced form of contrast and work well for matching three or more colored items including shirt, jackets, ties, pocket squares, and jewelry.
Analogous colors are directly adjacent on the color wheel. This creates a minimized contrast, giving a very consistent and restrained look.
Shirt/tie color combo ideas: white shirt/red or navy tie; light blue shirt/red tie; light blue shirt/dark blue tie; light blue shirt/yellow, orange, beige, or brown tie; gray shirt/black tie; violet shirt/yellow tie; dark-green shirt/violet tie; white shirt/black tie (formal/secret agent look). Any color or pattern tie will match with a white shirt.
Research has shown certain colors can have a psychological impact our behavior and feelings, and if worn in moderation, can help you subconsciously influence what you want people to think or feel about you.
Here are some psychological characteristics associated with common colors:
Red: Draws attention and creates a visual impact. It evokes strength, power, and is persuasive, but may also come off as assertive or aggressive. Bright red ties are commonly known as the classic power tie, popular for it's psychological influence.
Blue: The safest color and most popular among both men and women. Blue is a calming color associated with intelligence, focus, loyalty, and trustworthiness. Navy blues suggest more power and authority than lighter blues.
Green: A relaxing color associated with nature, balance, generosity, and peace. Dark green is associated with wealth.
Purple: The color of royalty. Purple evokes wealth, luxury, sophistication, mystery, and wisdom. Use in moderation.
Pink: A soothing color seen as innocent on women. Men who wear pink are seen as bold, assertive, in control and confident.
Yellow: Cheerful and evokes friendliness and optimism. Should be used in moderation and is overpowering if too vibrant.
Orange: Possesses the energy of red without the seriousness. Orange is associated with fun, ambition, and enthusiasm.
Black: Formal, sophisticated, powerful, and elegant. Use in moderation and pair with other tones and colors.
Gray: A neutral color that is a great base to pair with other colors. Gray alone can come across as low energy or boring.
White: Purity, innocence, cleanliness, and simplicity. White draws attention and is a stark contrast for other tones.
Textures work well and can evoke a soft, warm, and approachable feeling. Textures can be incorporated into your outfit with fabrics such as wool, flannel, tweed, corduroy, linen, silk, said, leather, velvet, or even a coarse oxford shirt or knit tie.
- Textured accents can spice up an outfit that’s otherwise smooth and simple.
- Typically, coarse or rough textures are seen as masculine and soft textures like silk and satin are seen as feminine. Both men and women can “soften” or “harden” their personas by adding fabric that is considered “opposite-sex”.
- Textures work best for tall and skinny people. These lanky body-types benefit from the little extra weight and bulk of the fabric, while stout people want a sleek look with no distracting bumps and shapes.
- Textures are found in suit jackets, shirts, blouses, ties, pocket squares, and of course sweaters.
Bright and busy patterns should be avoided on jackets and shirts that will be worn without jackets as they are distracting.
- Patterns work best on ties, pocket squares, and shirts that will be covered with a jacket.
- Pin stripe shirts or jackets can work well for larger body types but may make slim people appear slimmer.
- We don't recommend matching more than two patterns. When matching patterns it is crucial the size and density of patterns are not similar. You can match any style of patterns, even similar ones, just as long as they are different sizes and densities.
What to bring
- Bring a few ties, dress shirts, blouses, and jackets to choose from. Keep in mind, headshots are usually cropped above the waist so pants and shoes should not be a concern unless you require a full-body portrait.
- Bring any jewelry or accessories you wish to wear.
- Bring any makeup and hair products you prefer to use.
- We recommend photographing no more than 3 or 4 outfits, but feel free to bring as many clothes as you want to select from. We're happy to help you select outfits at the studio.
- If you need to shave, feel free to bring your razor with you and shave at our studio.
- If your company has specifications for your headshots, please bring those or upload them when you book your appointment online.
If you have any questions about how to prepare that were not answered on this page, please contact us.
Graphics and most style tips courtesy of realmenrealstyle.com