You are currently viewing Headshot Session Checklist

Headshot Session Checklist

This checklist is to help you get the best headshot possible from your session. Most of these things are pretty easy to do and can have a very positive impact on your final photos should you choose to do them.

If You Wear Glasses

If you wear glasses, it’s best if you can bring a pair of frames without lenses for your photo shoot. The reason for this is because at certain angles you’ll get nasty reflections in the lenses that can obscure your eyes. Because of these reflections It also limits the variety of light set ups I’ll be able to do for you.

If you have a pair of glasses that has an anti reflective coating, this is the next best thing if you don’t have frames without lenses. 

Hair Tips For Women


If you don’t need / want to color your hair, a trim plus a blowout can be a beneficial thing to do before your photoshoot. Resist the urge to try a new style for your headshot. Do what you know already works!

Headshot of woman with black hair and dark eyes


For best results, you should have your hair colored 3-5 days before your photo shoot. This will give any hair dye that’s stained your skin or scalp time to fade while still looking as vibrant as possible.

Hair Tips For Men


Get a hair cut no more than 3-5 days before your photoshoot. Make sure your facial hair is groomed and as you want it for your pictures. It’s also not a bad idea to consider getting a professional shave by a good barber if you have extremely sensitive skin. 

Realator headshot photographed on the Sonoma Square

Any hair that you don’t want showing in your headshots (like ear hair, unibrow, etc) should be dealt with. Other than that, be who you are and don’t try on a new style right before your headshot. 


If you want to color your greys, it’s not a bad idea to have this professionally done at a good salon before your photo shoot instead of a home kit if you’re not super good at it.

If you choose to dye your hair (at a solon or at home), make sure and do it at least 3-5 days before your photo shoot to allow time for any hair dye to fade from your scalp.

Makeup Face Prep

The night before your photoshoot it’s helpful to lightly exfoliate your face and moisturize. If you’ve chosen to have my hair and makeup artist do your makeover, just show up with your face clean and without any product on it the day of the photoshoot and we’ll do the rest! 

headshot portrait of an attractive woman with golden hair

We recommend you show up with your hair shampooed, conditioned and dried. Do NOT add any leave in products such as gels, hairsprays, etc. since my stylist might need to heat treat your hair for straightening or curling.

Teeth Whitening

If you’re on the fence about weather you should do this or not, the answer is yes. It’s mainly just phycological since people who are self conscious about their teeth tend to guard their smiles during photos.

High contrast black and white headshot of a man on white background

If a teeth whitening kit will help you open up while you’re being photographed, it will be well worth the money. I can whiten teeth in Photoshop, but I can’t fix a bad facial expression.

Clear Your Schedule

If you’re having your hair and makeup done by my makeup artist, you can expect your makeover to take roughly and hour and a half. 

At a minimum, you should also budget at least an hour with me in front of the camera to get images consistent with what I show in my portfolio. The more time you give me, the more looks I can create for you.

This means if you’re getting hair and makeup before your headshot you should budget at least 2 1/2 hours for your headshot and possibly more if you want a variety of looks.

If you don’t need hair and makeup or want to do your own, you should also factor in my time to set up and break down my lighting at your location in addition to your time in front of the camera. This is especially true with studio style headshots as the set up and break down time is roughly and hour for each.

I’d discourage hard stops right after your photo shoot if you’re nervous about having your photos taken. The extra pressure of the appointment can make you noticeably more tense for your photos which clearly isn’t a good thing.

Outfits & Jewlery

Your Top

The headshots I show in my portfolio are captured in landscape orientation and feature you as a bust. This means that the crop for your headshot will come down just below your collar bone. Knowing this, you should keep the shoulder and neckline details of your top in mind when choosing what to wear.

Color is stylistically your call but keep in mind that the contrast and the saturation of the color your wearing can draw your eye down to that area. Loud patterns can have this effect too. 

These aren’t things to necessarily avoid, but they are things you should be aware of and think about for your headshot session.


Anything you decide to wear is your call. Remember that these headshots will be close up and crop just below the collar bone. 

This means long necklaces usually don’t work well since they will get cropped out. Shorter necklaces that hang above the collar bone will work better for this crop. Everything else is up to you! 

Jason Guy

I am a portrait photographer based out of Sonoma, California. I create portraits for people of all ages with the goal of making images that are timeless. Portraits you will look back on decades from now, and still love them just as much then as you do today. While flattering lighting and pose are important, capturing how others see you is what I ultimately strive for.

This Post Has 2 Comments

Leave a Reply