5 Pro Tips for a Fabulous Headshot

Your headshot is the first thing clients, customers, and colleagues will notice about you, and let’s face it—first impressions count!

Want some tips to get the most out of your next headshot photo shoot? Here are five pro tips that will have you looking your confident best.

1. Bring Your Smile

Most of us feel semi-awkward in front of a camera, right? So how do you relax and get that natural look? I coach clients to try to look at the camera the same way you’d greet a client. Literally imagine a client’s face and pretend you’re saying hello! Sometimes that’s all it takes to bring out a warm, winning smile and relax your face for the shot.

And speaking of smiles… Clients often ask me whether they should actually smile or not, to which I always answer — yes! Sometimes people think they look silly or “nonprofessional” when they smile for the camera. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, smiles are infectious, and when clients see your smiling headshot they’ll feel more like engaging with you.

2. Choose Your Headshot Wardrobe Wisely

“What do you recommend I wear?” is a common question I get before a headshot session. And that’s good, because wardrobe does matter.

Unlike traditional portrait sessions where you have a chance to express yourself in various poses and settings, you have one shot at putting together your best look for a headshot. Colors, fabrics, accessories, fit, and styling all communicate a lot about you and your personality, so it pays to carefully consider your look ahead of time. 

Generally speaking, business people and professionals of all types can never go wrong with formal attire—you can always remove a jacket or a tie, but you can’t level up with a t-shirt and jeans. So you’ll always want to start with your most formal look in at least one headshot image and go from there. 

Of course, some professions naturally dress more casually. If your work attire doesn’t involve a suit or jacket, wear what’s most appropriate, but still aim slightly more dressy than not.  A collared dress shirt, a nice sweater, or even a polo shirt are good options that still come across as businesslike. 

Finally just a couple of tips about colors, which you want to be nondistracting. Muted tones (pastels, neutrals, earth tones, mid-tones) almost always photograph better than bright colors. Sometimes a tie or scarf can add some pop, as a secondary feature. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, so always feel free to ask your photographer if you are questioning a specific color or outfit choice.

3. Be Honest with Concerns

We are all our own worst critics, so just remember, we all have vulnerabilities! If you have sensitivity, a scar, blemish, a chipped tooth for example, don’t be shy about letting your photographer know. Sometimes there are perfectly simple posing options or retouching processes that can smooth away your concerns, so you can walk into your session with confidence. 

And remember, honesty goes both ways. Your photographer can explain what can and cannot be managed in the editing process to enhance the final product. Either way, it serves everyone’s best interest to keep an open dialogue so we are working toward the same goal. 

4. Try to Relax

As a portrait photographer I find that something as simple as taking a few breaths can make an amazing difference! No one realizes they are unconsciously hunching shoulders, clinching jaws, or holding their arms stiffly until I say, “Take a deep breath in and let it out, slowly.” It works every time! 

5. Have Confidence in Your Headshot Photographer

Finally, choose a photographer with experience with headshots so you can work together and create the right look at feel for your headshot. There are many different headshot styles—cool and confident, warm and funny, creative, businesslike — and a seasoned photographer will be able to use all his or her tools related to setting, lighting, posing, and expression to bring out your best.

A little preparation…

Like anything, preparation goes a long way and I hope these tips have been helpful in planning for your next headshot session! If you’d like more information or a consult anytime about an onsite or studio headshot session, just contact me and I’d be happy to chat!

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Deb Scally Photography

Headshots| Branding | Modern Portraits

Nashville / Franklin, Tennessee

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