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Headshot Session Checklist

This headshot session checklist will help you get the best headshot possible from your session. To achieve this, your goal should be to enhance your appearance as best you can in camera. I will then further enhance your headshot by retouching your favorite images after your photoshoot in Photoshop. 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 photoshoot. 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 can’t take the lenses out of your glasses or you’re worried you’re going to break them, I highly recommend you buy a pair of inexpensive frames from somewhere like Zinni before your session. By not having lenses in your glasses, it will not only lead to better headshots, it will also allow me more flexibility to do more lighting styles for you.

Hair & Makeup Tips for Headshot Sessions

For your upcoming photoshoot, consider getting a haircut and or color 3-5 days prior to ensure a fresh, neat appearance. Any hair that you don’t want showing in your headshots (like ear hair, unibrow, upper lip hair, facial hair etc.) should be removed and not be expected to be edited out with in photoshop for best results. Other than that, be who you are and DO NOT try a new hair style for your headshot. 

Women

If you’re not planning to color your hair, a simple trim and blowout can significantly enhance your look. It’s best to stick with a hairstyle you know suits you well, avoiding any drastic style changes just before the photoshoot. For more women’s headshot tips you can refer to this post here. 

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 tend to get a lot of irritation. For more information, you can check out these tips for male headshots to get more professional profile photos from your session.

Makeup Face Prep

To ensure you’re camera-ready for your photoshoot, gently exfoliate and moisturize your face the night before. Arrive on the day with a clean, product-free face if you’re opting for a makeover by my hair and makeup artist. We’ll handle everything from there to enhance your natural beauty!

For your hair, come with it freshly shampooed, conditioned, and dry. Please refrain from using leave-in products like gels or hairsprays, as my stylist may need to use heat treatments for styling, whether straightening or curling. This preparation will help us achieve the best look for your headshot.

Teeth Whitening

If you’re hesitant about using a teeth whitening kit before your photoshoot, I’d recommend going for it. The benefit is largely psychological, as those self-conscious about their teeth often hold back their smiles. A brighter smile can boost your confidence, leading to more natural and open expressions in photos.

While I can whiten teeth in Photoshop, enhancing a genuine, unguarded facial expression is something that needs to come naturally from you. Investing in a teeth whitening kit could be a small but significant step towards achieving the best possible photos.

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.

What to Wear for Female Headshots

For professional female headshots, choosing the right attire is crucial. Opt for well-fitted, tailored clothing that enhances your look. Solid color tops are best to keep the focus on your face, avoiding busy patterns. Professionalism is key, so consider a blazer or sport coat for a polished style. Avoid low-cut tops and overly bright colors, especially in formal professions. Longer sleeves are preferable for a clean, distraction-free image. 

Ensure you shirt isn’t too transparent so undergarments are not visible. If they are, take care to layer with a blazer. Remember, the right outfit greatly influences the perception of your headshot, so choose wisely for the best results. For professional looks, you can check out this post to learn more about what to wear for female headshots.

Jewelry

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. Subtle earrings and no necklace is generally best to keep the attention on your face where it belongs. 

Men’s Headshot Attire

 

To look your best, a well-chosen jacket is key; it not only improves your silhouette but also accentuates the natural V-shape of your body. When selecting a jacket, focus on quality fabrics like wool, avoiding synthetic materials for a more polished look. The best colors for jackets are grays, charcoals, blues, and earthy tones, as they harmonize well with most headshot backgrounds.

Shirts are equally important for the quality of your headshot. Pair your shirt color with your jacket for a cohesive look, and consider a spread collar for a classic style. White and light blue shirts work best with most jacket colors and avoid drawing attention away from your face. 

 

Tie or No Tie For Headshots?

The choice to wear a tie depends on your profession and the image you want to portray; it’s about matching the expectations of your audience. For a comprehensive guide on how to choose and pair these elements for your headshot, check out my full blog post. This guide will help you navigate the nuances of men’s headshot attire for a professional and impactful headshot.

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.

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