In recent years, people on LinkedIn 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 learned everything I could about this specialised area of photography and sought help from some of the world's best-known headshot photographers.

By combining my own experiences with those of my mentors, I have compiled some tips for your consideration when preparing for a headshot session. 

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On this page I will cover the following:

1. Clothing matters.

2. Skin & Make-up. Which foundation should you use? 

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

4. Jewellery choices for headshots.

5. Shaving tips for men. To shave or not to.

1. Clothing:

Getting dressed for your headshot session.

You might have experienced this yourself: You're at home and feel quite comfortable with what you are wearing, but when the doorbell rings you suddenly feel too awkward and inadequate to even answer the door. Then there are the times you have had a new set of clothing delivered, dressed up in them and enjoyed a positive boost in self-confidence, perhaps even doing a little dance in front of the mirror.

 If you have experienced these moments, you will agree that clothing not only determines your style & appearance but that it also affects your own self-confidence and even performance.

So with that said...

a. Wear clothes you feel good in.

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.

b. Make sure it fits well.

Smart and smart-casual looks best. Floppy collars and lumpy folds don´t make for a neat fit. 

c. Colours

Unless it clashes with your brand, I suggest you go with the colours that you feel good wearing.

Pick subdued tones of colours that go well with your skin tone and consider applying complementary colour theory.

If you want to run your ideas by me before a shoot, feel free to get in touch. 

d. Avoid Distractions.

Unless your entire identity is dependant on it, you don't want big, bold, bright or dazzling patterns to overpower the image and distract us from the delightful expressions on your face.

Consider keeping your colour choices subdued, patterns soft and edges crisp.

Think neat and tidy. Frills, folds, gaps and lace can be just as distracting as patterns but textured fabrics can look great.

Too much skin can also be a distraction. Sleeveless, shoulder-less or very low necklines bare a lot of skin. While this is not an issue for portraits, people can end up looking naked in a headshot which only captures us from the chest upwards.

Just be aware that your expression is the most important focus for a headshot.

Crisp, sharp, straight edges look tidy.

model : Hannah - Purestorm ID248371<br />
photo : Ryan - Purestorm ID185490

2. Skin-care & make-up for your headshot.

Rest and hydration

Now, before you consider any other make-up tips, make a conscious effort to drink water regularly in the days leading up to your photoshoot. Obviously, you should be drinking plenty of water anyway but a concerted effort before your shoot day will help your body clear away toxins, keep your skin hydrated from the inside out and improve your energy levels. You´ll be less likely to get spots too. Your eyes will benefit from a very good night or two of sleep and should reduce the red veins in the eyes too.

Softly softly.

In short, I prefer to photograph people looking as close to natural as possible. 

If you regularly wear a lot of make-up I suggest using less for your shoot and if you are not usually much of a make-up wearer, I would encourage you to use just a little to enhance your facial features.

Please don't stress about acne blemishes and scratches as I am more than happy to retouch anything you don't wish to be visible in your photos.

Unfortunately, make-up can sometimes reflect light differently than the way your skin does, so the quality of your portrait can be affected by the quality of the make-up.

If you want to make life easier for yourself you might consider hiring a makeup artist.

 Foundation for your headshot.

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

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

 Mascara for your headshot.

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

Fake eyelashes.

Fake eye-lashes usually look obviously fake in photos, unless they are really good ones that have been expertly applied by a professional.

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3. Do you need a hairdresser for your headshot?

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 hairstylist will likely be working to improve your current style and keep it in check, rather than creating a style for you from scratch.

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Important hair tips for your headshot

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 with.   

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”.

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4. Which jewellery is best for a headshot?

 In headshots, I prefer to avoid having anything in the photo that may distract me from the person's eyes and expression, so I suggest that you consider a minimised approach to the jewellery if possible.  

I would suggest small, simple, modest earrings unless big flashy bird cages are instrumental to your personal identity.

The same goes for necklaces with the added concern of symmetry. We need to keep an eye on them during each shot to make sure nothing has moved off centre or twisted around.  

If you however you have your heart set on using a particular piece, do feel free to try it out. Once you’ve seen how it looks in the first few shots I’ve taken of you, we can decide together whether or not it works for you.

5. 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.

Headshot 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 it's 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 the nose and ear hairs guys but please, NOT your eyebrows!!

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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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