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Male Headshots: Tips for Professional Portraits

Crafting superior quality male headshots is an art that goes beyond just a click of the camera. It’s not hard, but it does require doing a series of simple things that cumulatively lead to a noticeably better result. Key elements like your attire and grooming can significantly enhance the quality of your profile photo. These are aspects that only you can manage in the lead-up to your photoshoot.

In my experience as a photographer specializing in male headshots, I’ve learned that the right clothing and grooming choices can elevate a good headshot to a great one. This guide is designed to assist you in making those crucial decisions, from selecting the right attire to ensuring your grooming is spot-on. Whether you’re gearing up for your first headshot or updating your portfolio, these tips are here to help you present the best version of yourself.

Attire For Male Headshots

male headshots

I’m often asked about the ideal clothing for male headshots. This is for good reason since most intuitively know that good attire can have a significant impact on the quality of your profile photo. To help make things easy for you, I’ve compiled a list of key considerations to guide you through selecting the perfect outfit. This list emphasizes the role of jackets, shirts, and ties in creating a polished and professional image.

For those seeking more detailed advice, I invite you to check out my other post on men’s headshot attire for a deeper dive into what to wear for your upcoming headshot session. Follow these guidelines to ensure your headshot not only looks professional but also resonates with your target audience. 

  • Traditional or Casual: Modern headshot attire for men varies by region and profession, with both traditional (shirt, jacket, tie) and casual looks (shirt, jacket, no tie) being acceptable.
  • Jacket Importance: Wearing a jacket is recommended for enhancing your silhouette and accentuating your body’s shape. Consider your jacket to be the central point around which you build your look.
  • Jacket Material and Quality: High-quality jackets should be made from 100% natural materials like wool, cotton, and linen, and are preferred over synthetic materials for a better appearance in photos.
  • Jacket Color Recommendations: Preferred suit colors for male headshots include grays, charcoal, blue, and navy. Black suits are also acceptable but are considered more formal and can be harder to pair with some backgrounds.
  • Quality Shirt Features: Good quality shirts are made from natural materials like cotton or merino wool, and feature specific neck and arm measurements. They also have quality buttons (such as mother of pearl) and superior collar construction with collar stays.
  • Shirt Colors and Patterns: Shirts should complement the jacket’s color, with white and light blue being easiest to pair with the recommended jackets. Spread collars are most common, and collar stays will enhance your neckline. Solid color shirts or those with minimal patterns are easiest to pair, but style aficionados can include stripe or check patterns if adept at color and texture pairings.
  • Tie Considerations: Whether to wear a tie depends on your target audience and profession. Ties should harmonize with your jacket and shirt and be made from natural materials. Avoid synthetic materials like rayon, as they may be too reflective under studio lighting.
  • Harmonizing with the Background: Once you decide on a look for your headshot, it’s important to ensure your color choices harmonize with your headshot background. Inform me of your intended attire, and I’ll guide you towards a background that complements your look.

Hair Tips for Male  Headshots

male headshots

Preparing for a headshot session goes beyond just choosing the right outfit; your hair plays a crucial role too. Since a well-groomed appearance can significantly elevate the quality of your photos, I’ve compiled key hair care tips to ensure you look impeccable in your headshots. Following these tips will help you get the best headshot possible from your session. Before you photoshoot consider: 

  • Haircut Lead Times: It’s best to schedule a haircut no more than 3-5 days before your session, so you look your best for your headshot.
  • Hair Coloring: If you plan to color your hair, make sure to do it at least 3 days before your headshot session to allow enough time for any hair dye on your skin or scalp to fade away. I always recommend having this done professionally for the best results in your headshots.
  • Avoid New Styles: It’s better to stick with tried-and-true styles that you know look good on you for your headshots. Avoid the temptation to try out a new look right before your session, in case you don’t like the new style.
  • Shaving: If you shave your head, do it either the morning of or the night before your photoshoot to avoid stubble.
  • Hair Wash: If you wash your hair daily, there’s no need to change your routine. We recommend that your hair should not go more than 1-2 days without a wash before your session, especially if you tend to get greasy hair between washes.
  • Styling Products: If you use styling products, be sure to bring some along with a hairbrush in case you need to touch up your appearance.

Facial Hair & Grooming For Men’s Headshots

male headshots

Since your headshot will essentially be a close up of your face, grooming your facial hair is critical for a good headshot. By following these guidelines, you can avoid distractions and focus on capturing a headshot that exudes professionalism and confidence. Remember, a little effort in grooming can make a big difference in the final result of your photos. Before you photoshoot, consider the following: 

  • Professional Shave: The day of your session, consider getting a professional shave if you’re prone to razor burn or irritation.
  • Use a New Razor: If you plan to shave yourself, always use a new razor to minimize the chance of irritation before your headshot.
  • Moisturize: Shaving can leave your skin dry, which can affect the appearance of your photos. This is especially true if you shave every day or every other day. To minimize this, use a light moisturizer on the day of your photoshoot to prevent dry, flaky skin.
  • Eyebrows, Nose, and Ears: Pay attention to any stray or long hairs in your nose, ears, or eyebrows. These are common areas overlooked by men, so take care to groom these areas thoroughly for the best results.
  • Waxing: If you choose to wax between your eyebrows or on your neck, it’s best to do this at least a week before your photos to minimize any irritation or redness.
  • Razor Burn: If you experience razor burn or irritation before your photos, don’t worry. I will retouch these areas for you. However, try your best with the above tips to minimize this.

Skincare Tips for Men’s Headshots

male headshots

After talking to and looking at a lot of peoples faces close up at high resolution I’ve discovered there a few things you can do to greatly improve your complexion leading up to your photoshoot. Since your skin’s condition directly impacts the quality of your photos I decided to put together some simple skincare tips to help you not only improve your photos but also improve your health.

From managing sun exposure to the importance of hydration and rest, these are the habits I’ve noticed that tend to lead to youthful looking skin. Whether it’s your first headshot or you’re updating your portfolio, following these tips will make a noticeable difference. 

  • Avoid Sun Exposure: Excessive sun exposure can make your face look dry, red, and in extreme cases flaky from peeling skin. Make sure to protect your face using a hat and/or sunscreen as much as possible for at least 2 weeks before your headshot session for the best results.
  • Don’t Apply Sunscreen: On the day of your photoshoot, don’t wear sunscreen or any foundation with SPF in it. These products are reflective and can create unsightly hot spots on your skin in the final photos.
  • Hydrate: Staying hydrated will noticeably affect the appearance of your skin in your headshots. This means drinking enough water and consuming sufficient salt, as salt helps your body retain water.
  • Avoid Smoking, Drinking & Drugs: All these can negatively impact the appearance of your skin and eyes in your headshots. Try to minimize your consumption in the weeks leading up to your photoshoot.
  • Rest: Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to prevent dark circles and bags under the eyes. Aim for 7+ hours in the days leading up to your photoshoot for the best results.
  • Consider a Facial: Although it may seem unusual for men, getting a facial can help remove dead skin, especially if you’re prone to dryness. It can also help even out skin tones. I recommend doing this a week before your session to allow your skin to settle in case of an unexpected reaction.

Closing Advice: The Path to Achieving Superior Men’s Headshots

Men's headshots

To guarantee a remarkable male headshots, it’s essential to diligently follow the advice laid out in this guide. From choosing the right attire that suits your professional image to meticulous grooming and skincare, each aspect plays a pivotal role in enhancing the overall quality of your headshots. By carefully selecting your outfit, managing your hair and facial grooming, and taking care of your skin, you’re setting yourself up for success.

These aren’t just tips; they’re a roadmap to ensuring that your headshots stand out with professionalism and polish. If you commit to these steps, I assure you that the difference in your headshots will be evident. You’ll not only look your best, but your photos will also resonate more effectively with your target audience. Remember, the effort you invest in preparation directly translates into the quality of your headshots.

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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