14 Tips for Getting a Great Headshot

Male Headshot, Gray Background

You Are Ready to Hire a Professional Headshot Photographer...So Now What?

You’ve been thinking about it for some time, but now you are ready to hire a professional headshot photographer. You’ve saved up and have started searching the web. Within five minutes you are feeling a tad overwhelmed with options and the sheer volume of professional headshot and portrait photographers.

You really want to make the most of your funds and the photoshoot you have. Here are some concrete steps you yourself can take for getting a great headshot out of the session:

14 Tips

1. Do Your Homework. Do research what kind of image you would like to create. Look at magazines. Look online. Check out Pinterest for inspiration. Start a folder. Seriously. Then look at the pattern of images you choose. Notice common styles, looks, poses, lighting, etc.

2. Think about what style of photography you need. To help determine this, think about where and how the photos will be used. Are they going on-line into an existing business website? Will they be displayed next to other portraits and headshots? Think about the  photography and backgrounds in the other images. What style are the other images? What color palette? What parameters must yours adhere to, in order to fit in yet still standout?

3. Find a good professional photographer who shoots the style you need. Look at portfolios. Look for consistency in images so that you can be sure to receive a similar outcome. Be sure to review the blog “Finding the Best Portrait or Headshot Photographer Near You” for specific things to look for when reviewing portfolios, including retouching techniques. (Some photographers are great at capturing images, but overdo it on retouching.) Notice details in portfolio images, to make sure the final style is consistent with what you are looking for.

4. Think about your wardrobe. If you are going for a stylized shoot, be sure to discuss it with your photographer. If you are going for a business headshot, also discuss wardrobe with your photographer. Do research online and in magazines for wardrobe tips. Look at colors. Look at necklines. Look at textures. Look at how the garment lays down. If you don’t have a lot of money, consider going to a thrift shop for additional clothing items to wear to the shoot. There are times when what looks good on camera is not necessarily great for work. For example, turtlenecks are great for keeping the focus on the face. But some people don’t wear them and don’t bring them to photoshoots. Look online for what makes for a good image and what clothing is not so flattering. Think about adding textures, neutral colors, and even adding a scarf for a subtle pop of color.

5. Plan ahead and bring lots of wardrobe options with you. It is better to have a variety to choose from than to only have one or two tops and later find out they are not flattering on camera.

6. (Portrait Photoshoots) Think about who you are. Think about your hobbies. Think about props you can bring that might help tell your story. Do you play an instrument? Read a lot? Enjoy nature? Talk to the photographer about things you can add when staging a portrait. Plan for the final image. See it in your minds eye. Then create it.

7. Get lots of sleep the night before to reduce bags under the eyes.

8. Don’t overdo it on makeup. It’s easier to add color in Photoshop than remove heavy makeup. If your skin is ivory and you come wearing thick orange liquid powder all over your face and neck, retouching will only help so much. Bring remover with you. Bring a comb and brush. Do not draw on heavy eye liner or eye brows. If in doubt, discuss your look and makeup techniques ahead of time with the photographer.

9. Let the photographer know about any retouching limitations or preferences. Do you have a barely visible beauty mark on your face that can easily get mistaken for a soon-to-be blemish. Tell the photographer to not remove it, if you want to keep it.

10. Cameras capture detail. Lots of it. You likely have never seen your face as up-close as the photographer retouching your image is going to see it. Look up your nose. Uh. yup. Clean it. Brush your teeth before the shoot. Floss before the shoot. Use eye drops to help prevent bloodshot eyes. Use lip gloss to ensure smooth lips instead of crusty, cracked lips.

11. Stretch and flex to relieve any stress and tension from your muscles, and to help yourself feel more relaxed overall. Practice flexing your facial muscles. Look in the mirror. Stretch those facial muscles.

12. Be open to suggestions from the photographer. If time allows, be sure to experiment with different looks and backgrounds.

13. Arrive happy and in a good mood (if possible). Attitude shows on the face. Have you ever seen an image where the person is smiling but the eyes look sad? Happens a lot. If possible, be in the moment during the photoshoot. Let go of your other worries, even if only briefly.

14. Expressive faces make for interesting images. So have fun during your photoshoot. Be sure to take some time to play and act a tad silly in front of the camera. You might end up with a new favorite image of yourself.

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