Headshots: The Ultimate Guide for What to Wear and How to Prepare
Tips on Clothing, Makeup and Hair for Professional Photos
Choose Colors That Fall in the Mid-Tone Range Choose colors that fall in the mid-tone to jewel tone color range and avoid pastels and neons. The best colors to wear for headshots are the colors that lie in the mid-tone area of the color spectrum, or the muted or dark tones.
A few of my favorite colors for headshots are burgundy, navy, plum, emerald green and charcoal. Within each of these colors, however, is a tonal range, and your skin tones should help you determine which specific tone of each color work for you.
Solids are best for headshots. Some prints can work when layered with solids over the top. For example, a medium sized floral print under a solid top can be very flattering and add some visual interest to your photo. Avoid really tight patterns or tight prints, like tight pinstripe or polka dots.
Black and White Clothing Can Work Most photographers will tell you not to wear all black or all white. I really love all black for black and white portraits, and if white is in your color palette, a white button up can be a clean, classic look (wear a no-show white cami underneath).
Dress like you're trying to impress your ideal customer or a prospective client.
Consider your profession: Lawyers, government employees or people working in more conservative industries should wear darker and more formal clothing.
People working in start-ups or less traditional industries can wear more casual clothing for headshots.
Artists can do just about anything, but don't wear anything that will detract from your face.
Choose Moderately Open Necklines.
The best necklines for photos are modest V necks, boat or crew necklines. Avoid turtlenecks or scarves that can't be loosened around your neck. Turtlenecks make you look like you have no neck, and in photos, can make you look out of proportion. Avoid really low necklines that you'll be tugging on. Avoid buttoned shirts that are too tight around your neck. If you wear a buttoned shirt, it should fit without causing bulging.
Wear Long Sleeve or Three-Quarter Length Sleeves Long sleeves or three-quarter sleeves look more professional. Because I typically have you turned at an angle to the camera, your arms will be the most camera-forward part of you. Unless you absolutely love your arms, you will want longer sleeves. If you decide on a tank top or sleeveless top, bring a sweater along too for a few shots.
Makeup for Headshots and Professional Photos In general, keep makeup natural. Aim for an everyday look, but be strategic about applying it with the following tips.
Protect Your Skin Before Your Session
Protect Your Skin Before Your Session
- Wear sunscreen in the weeks leading up to your shoot! Racoon eyes or peeling skin are not fixable during edits.
- Drink extra water the week prior to your photos.
- Don't get anything waxed or threaded the day of or the day prior to your photos. Waxing or eyebrow threading can lead to redness. Avoid any major skincare treatment in the same week as your photos.
- Schedule a haircut a couple weeks in advance rather than right before your session, just in case you don't love it or in case you need a little time to learn to style it.
- Avoid shiny, glowy, or dewy makeup, like those that contain minerals or sunscreen.
- Use a matte foundation that matches your skin tone and blends well with the skin color on your chest and neckline. Don't apply foundation too thick; it will cake and enhance wrinkles.
- For more mature skin, use a thin liquid foundation rather than thick liquid or powder foundation. Thick makeup settles into fine lines and wrinkles and makes you look older. Opt for a light foundation with a touch of moisturizing quality, then cover any noticeable shine with a translucent powder.
- If you have makeup with some shine, use a loose, matte finishing powder over the top, like Laura Mercier's Translucent Finishing Powder.
- Use concealer a bit more liberally than normal to cover any blemishes, but make sure it's blended well.
- DO NOT wear super bold/dark lipstick. Lipstick should be one shade darker than your natural color and it should stay in line with your color palettes. Dark tones make your lips look thinner.
- Wear lipstick with a slight shimmer or gloss. Matte lipstick also makes your lips look thinner.
- Avoid strong lip lines and avoid going outside your natural lines to make lips appear bigger. Both are picked up easily on camera and look strange.
- Eyeshadow should be in neutral tones.
- Highlight with a matte ivory or white shade under the browline to make eyes appear more open. Concealer sometimes does the trick.
- Do NOT wear eyeliner on the lower lash line. It closes down your eyes, makes them appear smaller, and makes you look older.
- Avoid fake lashes, especially really long ones, as they also tend to close down your eyes, add shadows under your eyes and make eyes appear smaller.
- Avoid shimmery eye shadow. Shimmer falls into creases and accentuates lines.
- Use black mascara. Brown is too light for photos.
- Only wear glasses that have minimal to no reflective coating. The purple tint that helps with screen glare is a nightmare for photos. Please, please, please try to bring a pair without coating. Sometimes you can borrow a display pair from your optometrist that doesn't have coating.
- Make sure the lenses are clean before your headshots.