HOW TO PREP FOR A HEADSHOT SESSION
THE MAKING OF A GOOD HEADSHOT TAKES TEAMWORK.
You’ll need to do some prep work in selecting outfits, styling your hair, and applying makeup. While I use my skills for lighting, camera settings, editing, posing, and creating a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for you to be completely yourself so that I capture you at your best.
Find a photographer that resonates with you. Check out this article entitled Five Things to Look for in a Branding Photographer for some essential things to consider while looking for a personal branding headshot photographer.
Communication is critical. It’s perfectly fine to email various photographers initially to get a feel for their personalities. I do, however, recommend talking on the phone and having a conversation with your selected photographer before your shoot.
Your photographer will ask you a variety of questions to get to know you a bit better and will give you helpful tips for preparation. This phone call is also an excellent opportunity for you to get to know the photographer and to ask questions regarding the shoot, workflow, pricing, and how long it’ll take for you to get your final photos.
Think about where and how you’re going to use your headshot photos, such as social media, book cover, or website. Then, consider how you want to represent yourself on each of those platforms, which will help guide you in making decisions about what to wear.
Business, casual, or both. If you want to showcase yourself as a business professional, a blazer layered over a blouse would be perfect. If you desire to come across as more casual, then jeans and a beautiful top would be suitable. If you’re a personal trainer, workout clothing would be fitting.
If you’re a high-level executive coach who loves luxury, an evening gown to showcase your luxurious lifestyle is a must. If you’re a mystic, goddess, spiritual leader, a flowing BOHO style dress would be fitting. You get the idea. Be who you are. Show the world who you are.
Solid colors or simple prints work best for photos. Bold patterns tend to be distracting, and we want to be sure that YOU remain the main subject, not your dress. Select colors that either match or complement your branding colors.
Guys, any color shirt works well when paired with a suit coat: light color shirt with a dark suit coat, dark color shirt with a dark suit coat, or a dark color shirt with light suit coat. You can mix and match coordinating patterns, or wear a solid shirt and a suit coat with a pattern.
If you’re planning on wearing only a button-down shirt (without a suit coat) for a more casual look, a darker color shirt photographs better than a light color shirt.
Bring two to three outfits with you to your shoot. These can be casual, business, or as dressy as you like. For example, three outfits that are different yet coordinate with one another: a blazer layered with a cami and paired with blue jeans or black pants, a simple dress for the second change of clothes, and a blouse paired with white jeans for the third outfit.
Dig through your closet first, but don’t be afraid to invest in new pieces. Your headshot is more important than you think it is. Just about everyone turns to the Internet when searching for a product or service—even if a friend referred you to a product or service, most people would do some online research before reaching out to you. And when they land on your website—your digital storefront—you have milliseconds to make a good impression on a prospective client.
I highly recommend investing in updated clothing pieces instead of wearing something that’s ten years old. When you give yourself the gift of showing up as your best self, you’ll feel like a million bucks inside, and your real personality will shine through in the photos. And when you allow yourself to shine, you’ll attract people you love working with, who enjoy working with you.
Rent the Runway is a really great option for outfits for your photo shoot. This company rents designer clothing for low cost. You can order more than one size to be sure the item fits, and you can even sign up for a membership to have several pieces shipped to you each month. Everything is dry-cleaned and shipping is included—they keep it super simple. I’ve used this a couple times for glamour shoots.
Accessories. Keep it simple when it comes to accessories. Wear small pieces or even nothing at all.
Shoes. For headshots, you don’t have to worry about shoes as we’ll stick to close-up and mid-shots. For personal branding, you’ll have to put some thought into your footwear. Bring what you need for each outfit change.
HAIR & MAKEUP
If you can afford to hire a professional makeup artist (I have an amazing woman that I work with!) or go to your salon to have your hair and makeup done for you, please do. A professional makeup artist knows how to apply and layer makeup specifically for photo sessions.
If you’re going to do your hair and makeup, make sure to give yourself extra time, then it usually takes you. The last thing you want to do is rush through getting ready and show up to your shoot stressed out.
Start with your hair down. It’s up to you whether you want it straight or curled. If you want your hair up in a ponytail for some casual photos, let your photographer know so he or she can plan to do those toward the end of your session.
Beauty regimens. Make sure to schedule extreme beauty regimes such as exfoliating or peels, several days before your session, so your skin has time to recover.
Eyebrows and facial hair. If you’re going to have your eyebrows waxed, or any facial hair waxed or bleached, make sure to do that at least two days ahead of time. Guys, make sure to shave before your session (the day of your photo shoot).
The night before prep. Wash your face and moisturize the night before as well as the morning of your session.
Makeup application. When applying makeup, start with adding a light layer of foundation, add concealer under your eyes (if needed), and then a light layer of powder.
Make your eyes pop. Add eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara each one layer at a time. Keep adding layers so it looks heavier than you’d typically wear on a daily basis to make up for the reduction created through the camera/lens with studio lighting.
The extras. Add a little bit of blush if you usually wear it. However, there’s no need to go heavier with it. Add a little highlighter on your cheeks if you have some, and add a little bronzer to your forehead, cheeks, and chin if you have some.
Lips. Lastly, apply lipstick, lipgloss, or lip balm.
THINGS TO BRING TO YOUR SESSION
- Clothes. Pressed and ready to go.
- Lint roller.
- Makeup and hair products for any touchups.
- Lipstick and lipgloss for touchups.
- Oil blotters.