How To Choose Your Headshot Outfits

There is no better way to put your best foot forward than with a branding or headshot session. The benefits of having portraits you are proud of are endless. It makes you excited to put yourself 'out there' where otherwise you might be timid, reluctant or nervous. So, now on to the question, how to choose your headshot outfits.

So, where do you begin how to choose your headshot outfits? As a professional Utah headshots photographer since 2006, here are a few tips.

What Should You Wear for a Professional Headshot?

  1. Start with the end in mind when considering how to choose your headshot outfits. Take into consideration WHAT you are going to do with the headshots. Are they going on a website? In a magazine? Portfolio? Printed for your office? Coordinate your color choice to be consistent with your brand colors. If your website is pink and purple, you do not want to wear red and yellow. If your office is painted blue you do not want to wear hot pink. Get my drift? Good. I'll move on.
  2. Are your headshots telling a story and coinciding with content on your site? Will the images serve more than just an introduction to who you are? If so, think of other props you can incorporate in your headshot outfits. I photographed an artist who coaches other artists how to market and publicize their work. She had been in pre-med school and quit school to follow her passion in design. We implemented doctor scrubs in her shoot to help tell the story.
  3. When thinking how to choose your headshot outfits, think about what clients you want to attract. What vibe do you want to put off? Are you a defense attorney? If so you'd want to choose a wardrobe that states power and authority. If you are a pediatrician you might want to choose something bright, happy and inviting. If you are a yoga instructor and hold healing retreats you probably wouldn't wear a blazer and high heels. If you are a plumber you might want to wear a toilet seat. Hahah. I kid, I kid. You get the idea, right?
  4. Think about the various sides to your personality when thinking about how to choose your headshot outfits. Is part of you a go-getter boss mom making things happen at work while the other side of you is a loving, nurturing mom who plays with her children? Do you want to convey every side of you? If so, I'd choose a boss mom outfit and a casual mom outfit. Do you love to be classy sometimes and other times you like to be spicy? The sky is the limit. Who said headshots needs to be boring? This is about conveying to the world who you are, what makes you unique and what you are all about. Ask your photographer if your session includes multiple wardrobe changes and plan accordingly. Versatility is key with branding.
  5. If you wear glasses, be sure to tilt the glasses down to reduce glare. Your photographer should know this trick but if they don't be sure to suggest it. The worst thing is not being able to see your eyes because all you can see is the reflection of the strobe light in the lens of your frames.
  6. Women have the tendency to think that dressing baggy is more flattering if they carry a few extra pounds, trying to hide it. This couldn't be further from the truth. Baggy clothing easily intensifies size. If you are already cautious because of your size choose a nice fitted button up that fits but does not hug your body. Stay away from flow-y tops if you have a few extra pounds and stay away from clothing that hugs your body tightly. A professional photographer has plenty of play room in posing you to flatter your body type. A good photographer can make someone who is carrying a little extra weight look ten pounds lighter and a bad photographer can make a stick figure look like she ate a dinosaur. The most important thing is to show up ready to own who you are and rock what you got.
  7. Men, if you are going to wear a tie, make sure you know how to tie the tie! Watch some youtube videos before the shoot or make sure your photographer knows how to tie them.
  8. Pay attention to the undertones in your skin when choosing your headshot outfits. If you have yellow undertones, stay away from yellows as it will draw that out even more. If you have red undertones stay away from red, etc. White looks great on darker skin tones but can really wash out lighter complexions. Rich, deep colors always looks good. Talk with your photographer and get their professional opinion beforehand.

What Should You NOT Wear For a Professional Headshot

  1. You want to avoid clothing and jewelry that will be distracting. Clothing that is "busy" with patterns will wig out the pixels on the camera and create a moire effect. (Moiré occurs in a photograph when a scene, an object or a fabric being photographed contains repetitive details (dots, lines, checks, stripes) that exceed the sensor resolution. The camera produces a strange-looking wavy pattern that is very distracting and not what you want from a corporate headshot.)
  2. Avoid logos and pictures in your headshot outfits. They are incredibly distracting and take the focus off of you, the main subject.
  3. Jewelry is fine so long as it is not heavy or the center of attention. I'd keep it light and simplistic.
  4. For women specifically, avoid sleeveless tops, unless you love your arms. Even the most fit women oftentimes dislike their arms in portraits. Skin is a distraction. Choose a neckline that is comfortable without showing too much cleavage or none at all and choose a sleeve length that doesn't make you wonder how your arms look.

Oftentimes people ask me, 'Can I wear pajama bottoms since we are just doing headshots?'

My answer is a resounding no. Even if we only photograph your torso, there is a mentality of dressing to impress that you will be missing while we shoot. I want you to be mentally in a place that you love and feel confident in every part of yourself. From head to toes. That includes shoes. Even if your shoes never make it in your final portrait, I want you to feel put together. AND if you are dressed from head to toe, there are a lot more options for posing and styling without restrictions.

Hair and Makeup for Headshot Outfits

Camera lighting has a way of washing out your face. Your makeup needs to be a little more pronounced than everyday normal wear. This is not the time to experiment with a new look. However, a more defined contouring look with a slightly heavier application of blush will do wonders for you with lighting.

Powder is pretty much everything with headshots. The last thing you want is a shiny face in places that weren't meant to shine. We want your eyes to shine, not your chinny-chin-chin. While shine can look gorgeous and glamorous in real life it can make you look sweaty in headshot photos.

Keep your hair simple and remember the camera can't see what's behind your head. A ponytail will make you look like you have no hair. Hair with body will give your face a more oval face shape. Straight hair makes your face look more slender as it draws the eyes down where curly hair draws the eyes out. Your best bet is a soft curl and most of all, what makes you feel most confident in your headshots.

Spray Tans & Headshot Outfits

It might be tempting to run out and grab a spray tan before your shoot so that white shirt doesn't drown you out. I would strongly suggest NOT doing this. Camera's pick up on reds and oranges much more precisely than what meets the eye. Spray tans can cost a lot of time in additional editing for the photographer that they might charge you for. If you feel the need for a bit of color before your shoot, especially if it's in the winter, go to a tanning bed 2-3 times 1 week before your session. A tanning session will last about a week and will give you an added glow without the risk of looking like a lobster. Now, if you are a head chef at Red Lobster and want to look like a lobster for your headshots go right ahead and jump in that tanning bed the day before.

PREP for Headshot Outfits

Be sure to dry clean and press your headshot outfits 2-3 days before your photo shoot date. Double check with your photographer if she is going to have a lint roller. Send the final selection to your photographer beforehand so she can anticipate how she wants to style and photograph your session. This is prep work she can do beforehand as to not take time during your session to figure out.

Last But Not Least When Planning Your Headshot Outfits

The most important thing to remember to bring is YOUR authentic self to your headshot photo session. At the end of the day, the most important image a photographer could capture is your authenticity. Come ready to fall in love with yourself in all of your perfectly imperfect ways. Remember that nobody is perfect. Even with every detail in place, the most important thing to bring is the love you have for yourself. Headshots can feel intimidating and a little awkward until you realize it's one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. So often we do not see ourselves for the beautiful and unique humans we are. Too often we compare our flaws to others perfections. A good photographer will have all the lighting and details dialed in. A great photographer will help you feel comfortable and most of all confident and will leave you feeling like a million bucks.

I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.

Much love,

Michelle Ellsworth