HEADSHOT PROFILE PHOTO : All you need to know - Ryan Cowan - Photographer

HEADSHOT PROFILE PICTURE: COMPLETE OVERVIEW OF TIPS

In recent years, people on LinkedIn and various social media sites, have started to understand the importance of having a good headshot or profile photo of themselves. As the demand increased, I decided to make sure I learnt everything I could about this specialised area of photography and sought help from some of the world's best-known headshot photographers.

Peter Hurley is seen in the profession as the best known and most experienced headshot photographer around and with his mentoring system, I have been able to deliver 1000`s of great headshots and gain a lot of experience. 

Gathering the combined experience of my own along with those of my mentors, I have compiled some tips for your consideration when preparing for a headshot session with me. 


This overview covers the following points:

1. Clothing matters

2. Take care with make-up

3. Which foundation should you use?

4. Do's and Don´ts with mascara

5. Do I need a hairdresser before my photo session?

6. The main tip about jewellery

7. Shaving tips for men



1. Clothing for your headshot profile picture

  Have you ever felt that boost of self-confidence wearing a newly purchased set or item of clothing for the first few times? 

Obviously, clothing determines your style and overall appearance but it also affects your self-image and performance. Take the opposite example of wearing something that makes you feel comfortable around the house, but when the doorbell rings you suddenly feel awkward and inadequate by your attire alone.

After doing a number of tests, researchers were able to show that clothing really does affect your image.

I have written more on that in How to dress well for your headshot photo session if you want to read.

Most importantly, you should wear your favourite clothes.

Even if you have to go out and buy your new favourite clothes, it makes no sense to bring an outfit you don’t feel good in or that is not comfortable. 

It is often noticeable in the photos if you are not comfortable with what you are wearing. 



2. Make-up for your headshot / profile picture


  I prefer to photograph people looking as close to natural as possible and unfortunately, make-up can react differently to the light than your skin, so the quality of a business portrait can be seriously determined by the quality of the make-up. 

Make-up is recommended for all women in a headshot profile picture but not necessary for men.  

If you wear a lot of make-up I prefer less and if you are not normally a make-up wearer, I would encourage you to use just a little to enhance your facial features.


If you want to make life easier for yourself you might consider hiring a makeup artist, which I have written more about on another page.


3. Use of Foundation for your headshot profile photo

  The most frequently asked question about make-up relates to the use of foundation. On another blog page about make-up tips for your LinkedIn profile picture, I give tips on foundations but in short, many foundations have an SPF that can make you look a lot lighter in the picture than you actually are.  


Simply put, there is a thin layer on the skin that reflects the light used to photograph. 

The higher the SPF value, the more difficulty you’ll have.  A foundation with an SPF value of 15 is recommended to prevent this. 


4. Mascara for your headshot / profile picture

  Mascara on your eyelashes can do a lot to make your eyes shine, but I would really recommend you to use a good mascara where your lashes do not stick together.  

Fake eye-lashes usually look obviously fake in photos, unless they´re really good ones that have been expertly applied by a professional. I have photographed numerous stunning faces that sadly couldn´t be used in my portfolio because there were two sets of eyelashes on each eyelid.


5. Do you need a hairdresser for your headshot profile picture?


Often, the first thing people think about is going to the hairdresser to make sure your hair is at its best too. After all, in the same way, that clothing can boost your confidence, hair is possibly even more influential. 


Come in with your hair ready the way you like it. We want your hair in your pictures to be as close as possible to the way you look on a good hair day. If you choose to have a hair & makeup assistant, it is essential that you discuss your hair and style prior to your session, so we are all on the same page about what you will need. The hair stylist will likely be working to improve your current style and keep it in check, rather than creating a style for you from scratch.


Important hair tips for your LinkedIn profile picture

1. Stick with your usual style and avoid dramatic changes.   

2. Come to your headshot session hair-ready but bring along anything you might need to make adjustments too.   

3. In the summer months, tan-lines can show up on your hairline when you have just cut your hair.   

4. Do not wait until the last minute to plan your haircut. A week's worth of growth often looks better than “just been cut”.

6. Which jewellery is best for a headshot profile picture


 In headshots, I prefer to minimise jewellery as much as possible. It can end up being distracting in a headshot, so if you really do want to wear some, I would suggest small, simple delicate earrings.

The same goes for necklaces but with the added issue that we need to keep an eye on them between each shot to make sure it hasn’t moved off centre or twisted and turned around in any way.  

If you really want to wear something, feel free to try it out and then decide once you’ve seen how it looks in the first few shots I’ve taken of you.

In a headshot, the viewer needs to make eye contact with the person in the picture, so we try our best to avoid any distractions like jewellery from drawing the viewers eye away from your eyes. 

7. Shaving tips: shaved or not on your headshot profile picture?


Matthew Kocela - Portrait

 If you are going to shave, do it well. 

If your beard grows vigorously, you can shave during or just before the photoshoot if you want a good clean-shaven look in the photo but you could also go for the stubble look first and then use your shaver or razor to shave halfway through the session. This way you’ll have both an unshaven stubble look and a clean-shaven look.

LinkedIn profile picture shaving tips:

1. Spend some time on this shave. Make it a good one.

2. Treat your skin to some aftershave and help it heal, alleviating some of the redness from your skin.

3. Ask yourself if a beard is really suitable for you if so, make sure its trimmed to perfection.

4. An unshaven look is fine and with a longer session (1hr) you can always shave during the shoot.

Please remember to groom and trim your facial hair too. That includes nose and ear hairs guys...but please, NOT your eyebrows!!


I will keep updating this page to help keep you informed as much as possible and improve your own headshots.

For more information about my photoshoots, prices and booking an appointment, please visit the LinkedIn headshot photo page.




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