Headshot Guide: Tips and Prep


The truth is, these days everybody needs a good headshot. Whether you’re an Actor / Model, just starting in the business world, an Entrepreneur, or a CEO, a headshot is your brand. It’s the first thing that people see when they look you up online. It’s your calling card, and a great opportunity to make an impactful first impression.

If you’re like most people, the thought of getting your headshot done can be daunting. You probably have a lot of questions like:

What can I expect?

What do I wear?

What do I do?
What happens afterwards?

Well, the good news is, that’s what we’re here for, and you’re in good hands. Whether this is your first Portrait Session or you’re a seasoned veteran we take the worry out of Headshot Photography, and let you shine (you’ll probably even enjoy yourself)!


What can I expect?

The person in the photo needs to be the same person walking in the room

This is the golden rule of headshots! Who is your client going to see on any given day? A teacher of mine once said your Headshot should look like you on a good day – but not on your best day. Make sure it’s a look that you can reasonably recreate (sometimes with short notice if you’re auditioning).

When you arrive, we’ll chat about what you are looking to get out of your Headshot Session (and perhaps what you are looking to avoid!). We’ll talk about how you’re going to use the images. Are you an Entrepreneur, Actor or Model? Is it for social media (eg LinkedIn), or print use? Do you want a business or corporate feel?

Basically, what’s your brand? When someone looks at your Headshot, what do you want them to know right away?


Before the Session

Do some research. Seriously

You want to make sure that your photographer is the right fit for you. Make sure you look at their work, and pick someone whose aesthetic speaks to you. The more jazzed you are about the photographer you’re working with, the better your images will come out!

Once you’ve decided and booked your session…

Make sure you’re well rested, hydrated, and have had something to eat that day. Try not to schedule something immediately before or after your Headshot Session, so you’re not feeling stressed about time. Feel free to bring a small snack or a drink if you like. If you have some music that you’d like to have play, bring that too. 


What do I wear?

Your outfit should be true to your brand, fit your personality, and make you feel confident! 

Bring lots of options. Make sure everything is cleaned, pressed, and fits well. As a general rule, keep patterns to a minimum, and try and avoid logos, as they can be distracting. Same goes for jewellery and accessories – unless they’re integral to your brand, no necklaces, keep earrings small, or not at all. We want the attention on you, not what you’re wearing.

Solid colours are always a good call. Choose colours that work well with your skin tone and hair colour, and flatter your figure. We generally avoid solid black or white outfits, but it’s always good to have them included in your options.  Remember that your Headshot is just that – head and shoulders. Don’t stress about pants or shoes, but bring a couple options anyway (if you usually wear high heels, you’ll stand differently with them on than in flats). A lint roller is always a good thing to pack in your bag.

A collared shirt/blouse is always classic. V-neck t-shirts are great if they’re fitted, and they layer well under a sweater. A dress with a simple pattern or solid colour is always a good option to bring, as are slacks and jeans (for a more casual look). If you’re going for a business or corporate look, a jacket & tie / suit is strongly recommended.  Longer sleeves tend to work better than tank-tops, and have a more professional look to them.  If you usually wear glasses, we’ll do some photos with and without them. We’ll do our best to minimize glare, but be aware it’s not always possible to remove it completely.  


Hair & Makeup

If you’ve hired a makeup artist with us (and if you’re able to, it’s always recommended), then you can relax and we’ll have you come in with plenty of time to get ready. They’ll be there for the duration of the shoot for touch ups and any changes. In general, a clean & natural look is always favoured – especially at the beginning.  If you have long hair, we’ll start with your hair down, and towards the end of the shoot we’ll put it up.

If you’re going to cut your hair, do so a few days before your Headshot Session, so as not to have that ‘newly cut’ look. Same goes for dyeing your hair – let it settle for a bit first. Shaving, however, should be done right before the shoot, so we don’t have to battle ‘5 o’clock shadow’ in the editing process (make sure you’ve used aftershave / cooling gel so there’s no skin irritation). If you’re doing your own makeup, then it should also be done just before the shoot, so it looks fresh. Start with light makeup – we can always add as we go. Make sure to moisturize so your skin looks healthy. A bit of foundation and a good translucent (matte) powder is a good investment for everyone.  It’s also a good idea to bring a brush or a comb and some gel or hairspray to help calm fly-aways.


What do I do? 

Relax. Have fun. Be yourself. And don’t forget to breathe. Don’t worry about posing – just bring your awesome self, and be open to taking direction. Remember, this is all about you, and showcasing your personality in a photograph, so don’t worry about ‘getting it right’. Some direction may seem odd, or sound funny, but we know the best way to shape the face for the looks we want. The photos will look awesome!

You’ll get to see some of the photos as we go, so you’ll have an idea of what the camera sees. 
It can be a good idea to try it out in front of a mirror a day or two before. Take note of your posture, how you hold yourself. Every face has a ‘good side’, so get to know yours. A forced smile never works out well, so try out different expressions and see what feels natural. Better yet, show up on the day ready to just let go, and react.

After the session

We’ll go through the photos and pick some favourites. I shoot tethered, meaning you’ll have had the chance to see your photos throughout the session. At this point, it is your responsibility to let me know if we’ve missed anything, or if anything needs to be re-shot. You’ll approve your final photo selections before you leave, so there are no surprises.
In the editing, blemishes will be removed, and there will be some light retouching of the skin, but we won’t change the shape of your face, eyes, lips, and such. We’ve just spent a great Headshot Session getting fantastic images that you’ll be proud to show off!

The final edits will be sent to you in a few days to a week. If anything needs to be corrected, one pass of simple retouching is fine. If you’ve ordered any prints, you’ll be notified as soon as they’re in.

Let’s Get Started!