In this guide, we’ll be discussing tips to prepare for a headshot photo session.
It can be a little nerve-wracking going into a headshot photoshoot especially if it’s your first time!
Well, we hope you feel less nervous after this post because we have some tips you can implement that will have you feeling more relaxed and looking your best!
There is a lot involved when you get ready for a professional headshot photoshoot.
It’s not just about showing up and getting your picture taken.
These photos will represent who you are in the professional world, and that means that you want them to look great.
The following 12 tips will help you prepare in order to get the best results possible.
Table of Contents
1. Choose Your Wardrobe Wisely
You want to wear something that looks professional and fits your personality as well as your industry standards.
Make sure you understand the company culture and what is the appropriate dress before planning out what to wear for a headshot photoshoot (if this headshot will be used for a professional reason).
What Should You Not Wear For a Headshot?
Avoid unmatched clothing and glasses, and always wear shoes to your photoshoot.
What Should You Wear to Get Headshots Taken?
Find something that compliments your skin tone and hair color, but doesn’t compete with either of those.
Wear solid colors, not patterns or excess decoration on the clothing you wear for a headshot photoshoot.
Keep it simple! It’s better to have one neutral color than to wear five colors that compete with each other.
Make sure your clothing fits well and you’re comfortable in it before your photoshoot.
Wear something that makes you feel confident for your headshot photoshoot – if you don’t like what you’re wearing, it’ll come through in the photos!
2. Find the Right Location
Choosing a good background for your headshot photoshoot is important to get a professional picture that accurately represents you and your personality.
A poorly chosen location may be distracting or unflattering, while a well-chosen one can make an average headshot photo look great!
Avoid busy backgrounds and busy rooms, such as a busy office or classroom.
Look for solid colors, like bare walls and wooden floors, rather than patterns that can compete with your clothing and face.
Make sure there is enough light in the room to see you clearly; if not, try to find another location or book a later time of day for your headshot photoshoot. Places with lots of windows are good for this kind of lighting.
Find a place where you won’t be interrupted or distracted by people or things, and that has enough room for you to move around freely in the space if necessary.
3. Bring Headshots With You (or Print Them Out)
It’s always better to have a few different headshots available for your photoshoot to help the photographer understand what you are looking for.
It can be hard to describe yourself or communicate your ideas, so it is best if they already have examples of the types of photos you want!
It’s also helpful to bring them with you in case your photographer doesn’t have them on hand.
4. Pay Attention to Your Hair and Makeup
Hair and makeup can make a big difference in your headshot photos, which is why it’s important you know what works best for you before your photoshoot.
For women, wear minimal makeup unless you typically wear a lot for every day.
Make sure that makeup is flattering and enhances your personal features, not overwhelming them or look like you’re wearing a lot of it (this includes fake eyelashes).
Also, be sure to know whether your photographer will have a makeup artist on set or if you need to do your own makeup.
Find the best hairstyle for your face shape; long hair can sometimes be distracting, especially if it covers one eye!
If you typically wear your hair up, bring it down for your photoshoot so that you can try something new.
5. Practice Your Smile
Headshot photos are the perfect time to show off your smile, which is why it’s important to practice before your shoot.
If you don’t like how it looks when you’re smiling naturally in front of the camera, you’re not going to like how it looks in your headshot photos.
Practice different types of smiles – is your natural smile too wide? Or is there a small smile that’s more flattering?
Don’t forget to practice with friends and family (they may not appreciate it, but at least you’re getting a good headshot photo out of it!).
Remember that your teeth should be showing in a flattering way – if you typically cover them with your lips, don’t!
You want to look confident and happy for a great headshot photo, so smiling is the key to this.
6. Hold Your Head Up High
The key to a confident headshot photo is proper posture combined with a have-a-great-day attitude!
Sit up straight, but not too straight as if you’re posing – it’s okay to be relaxed for a headshot photoshoot! You can even lean back a bit against your chair.
Open your shoulders and chest – you want to look comfortable and ready for anything in your headshot photos!
7. Relax and Have Fun During Your Headshot Photoshoot
It’s okay to be a little nervous before a professional headshot photoshoot, but don’t let that stop you from having fun with it!
Try to be yourself in your headshot photos – the photographer will take the best photo of you when they’re able to capture your personality and style.
Don’t worry about how good or bad the photos are in the moment – you can always go through them later and pick out the ones you like best.
Smile, laugh a bit – this is your chance to be in front of the camera and have some fun!
8. Avoid Boring Backgrounds
The relationship between a person’s headshot photo and background is important for creating good lighting effects with professional headshots.
Look for a plain, simple background that allows the focus to be entirely on you and your face.
Think about a natural location where there isn’t too much going on in the background – think woods, maybe a park bench…
Steer clear from cluttered backgrounds, as well as ones that have a lot of shadows or lighting problems. Try to stick with a simple background (whenever possible).
Sometimes, less is more; if you’re not sure what your options are for good headshots, it might be best to go the simple route and create an entirely new/better background using Photoshop or other editing software (trust me on this one).
9. Get Plenty of Rest the Night Before
It’s no secret that you feel better when you’ve had proper rest, so make sure to aim for at least 7 hours the night before your professional headshots are taken.
A good night’s rest will also reflect on the appearance of your skin, reducing the appearance of under-eye bags and dark circles, which can definitely be distracting in your headshots.
Eat a healthy breakfast before your photoshoot – puffiness and dark circles tend to show up more when you don’t eat healthily beforehand.
Drink plenty of water and get ready for an early start so you know you’ll be well-rested and ready to go!
10. Stay Hydrated During Your Headshot Photoshoot
We can’t emphasize the importance of staying hydrated enough, especially during a professional headshot photoshoot.
You’ll look more refreshed and awake if you’re not dehydrated – which means no puffy eyes and dark circles.
You won’t tire out as fast, so you’ll be able to keep the energy up throughout the entire photoshoot!
Staying hydrated also means maintaining proper skin appearance – let’s not forget that water is one of the skin’s best friends.
If you couldn’t get good rest the night before, then make sure to splash some cold water on your face and put in some eyedrops to reduce redness in the eyes!
11. Avoid Lots of Salt the Day Before
If you are having a headshot photoshoot session, you will want to avoid lots of salt the day before.
This is because too much salt will leave you looking puffy and bloated, which is not a good look for any photo that you want to be seen as beautiful in!
Too much salt can also impact how your skin looks – this means looking less refreshed and more tired, even if you slept well the night before.
Salt will also affect how well your skin functions – so this means you’ll have a higher chance of looking sweaty throughout the photoshoot, even if it’s not hot out.
12. Whiten Teeth the Day Before if Possible
Whiten your teeth the day before, if you can.
Not only will this make for better photos, but it’ll also help you look brighter and more awake in them!
If you want to brighten up your smile during a professional headshot photoshoot, professional teeth whitening is the way to go.
Don’t wait until the last minute – whitening doesn’t take effect overnight and you’ll want to give yourself enough time to let the effects take place before your photoshoot.
Thanks for reading, we hope these tips help you prepare for your next headshot photoshoot!
This guide is a part of our headshot photography hub. Be sure to check it out for more headshot photography tips and tricks.
What should I do before a professional headshot?
Before a professional headshot, it’s important to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. This can include getting plenty of rest, choosing your outfit carefully, practicing poses and facial expressions in the mirror, and having a clear idea of what you want to convey in the photo.
What not to do before headshots?
Before headshots, it’s best to avoid anything that could negatively impact your appearance or mood, such as overeating or drinking alcohol, experimenting with new hairstyles or makeup, or rushing to the shoot without adequate time to prepare. It’s also important to avoid any activities that could leave visible marks on your skin, such as tanning or waxing, for several days beforehand.
Nate Torres is a portrait photographer servicing the Orange County and Los Angeles areas. He specializes in portraits of individuals, couples, groups and headshots. Nate Torres is also a photography writer and content creator and educates other photographers on portrait photography, composition, editing, gear, and business. You can find his content on his personal website, social media, and YouTube Channel, as well as on blogs such as Fstoppers, Photofocus, and Imaginated. Being a former SEO consultant, Nate also teaches other photographers how to use SEO to grow their own photography business on his educational blog, Shutter SEO.