How to Prepare for a Headshot

For most of us, getting your photo taken can be a little stressful. This guide will help you prepare for your headshot or portrait.

Its all about you!

Your headshot is about you. You are the star. The best headshots show you confident and approachable — ready to take on any challenge with ease. The viewer should want to seek you out or give you a call. Here are a few points to consider to get the most value from your headshot project.

Before even setting foot in the studio. Here are a few questions to consider. If you can answer these questions, you’ll be in great shape. Hiring a great photographer is of course important, but these questions will help guide the photographer in making the best image of you for right the purpose.

What's the Goal?

It doesn’t matter if you’re part of a large organization or a small business owner. What message do you want to send with your new picture?

Where will the image be used?

Where will people see your image? This might include websites, presentations, social profiles, print material, or even a book cover. Normally I will shoot in a landscape format to suit you which will most likely show head and shoulders with the very top of your head ever so slightly cropped. This draws the viewer to your face, providing maximum impact.

If you have specific page layout needs, let me know so I can shoot to those dimensions. For example, if you need a Facebook or YouTube banner, we’ll shoot with a very widescreen frame in mind. However, a narrow magazine column layout may require a different approach.

What image sizes do you need?

Do you have any delivery specs from your web developer or graphic designer? It’s OK if you don’t speak in pixels. Just let me know any details you have before the shoot.

What's the look?

Do you want to appear ready for the board meeting or more relaxed? 

What background is best?

Do you have a background preference? Often  clean, simple backgrounds work best. Solid white or gray backgrounds are very versatile. They’re also easily replicated as your business grows. Environmental backgrounds, which include an office or shopfront background, or even a great outdoor location can add some personailty to your image.

Dress for what you do

It's all about you. If you don’t wear a suit on a regular basis, don’t wear a suit. It’s great to push your wardrobe range for specific needs, but your main image must reflect how people see you in a professional setting on a typical day.

Keep it simple

Unless it’s part of your personal brand, opt for a basic wardrobe. You are the star of these images. So minimise anything that takes attention away from your face. There’s nothing wrong with even a simple, well-fitting T-shirt.

Bring options

Feel free to bring some bolder and softer colors, but stick with solids and avoid heavily patterned garments. Layering is a great way to quickly change up your look in the studio. For example, a casual sleeveless dress can easily be dressed up with a jacket. If you want to wear a tie, then bring a few. Ties are a great way to get multiple looks without a full-on wardrobe change.


If you normally wear glasses, bring them. People won’t recognise you without them, and that’s not good. Don't be too worried about reflections in your glasses. Most lenses now have anti-reflective coatings and I have a few techniques to minimise the reflections, so don't worry. The only thing for you to do is clean them so they sparkle! Like, the best clean they ever had.

If you love it, bring it.

Rules are made to be broken. So if a favorite outfit or shirt immediately comes to mind, bring it. Odds are it’s a favorite because the fit is perfect. That confidence comes through on camera!

Womens Hair & Makeup

Plan to be ready for your shoot with your own makeup look. There’s no need to go overboard. Remember that you still need to look like everyday, professional you. Bring hairspray and a brush, just in case you need to do any touch-ups. Probably best not to try out a cool new look just before a shoot. Do what you feel comfortable with and what you know works for you.

Clothing fit

Fitted clothing, as opposed to flowy and blousy items, is best on camera. I create flattering looks with posing but If the clothing is too bulky, you’ll appear heavier than you are. We don't want that!


Shiny, sparkly things are distracting by design. Anything that takes the focus off you works against you, so keep it simple. I normally say to remove earrings and necklaces during the shoot.

Grooming for Men

Arrive with your hair styled and ready to go. If you’re planning a haircut, try to organise that for at least a few days before your session. If you want to go for the scruff look, that’s cool. But it’s either in or out — it can’t be photoshopped.

Don’t worry — you’re off the hook for makeup. I do suggest a little moisturiser though to prevent dry skin. But avoid anything that might clump in your facial hair or adds color.

Clothing fit

Correct fit is really important when it comes to dress shirts and jackets. Make sure your shirt collar is the correct size, especially if you’re wearing a tie. Dig out the collar stays, and make sure everything is neatly pressed. If you’re concerned about fit, visit a tailor. Suits and blazers tend to be slim fitting now. A 10-year-old suit will instantly date the image.

Don't forget to share this page, or my PDF guide, with your friends or colleagues.

Thanks for reading. I hope it's been useful.

If you'd like to find out more about me or my headshot sessions, click here

I'd love to chat and see how I can help your personal brand.



Jason Holt