How to prepare for your headshot photoshoot

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

How to prepare for your headshot photoshoot

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My clients frequently ask me the same questions about their corporate headshots. And who can blame them? For women especially, there’s a lot to think about. So I thought it may be useful to write this blog post to provide some guidance and tips either for my own clients or indeed to photographers new to corporate photography. This will be a ‘living document’ and I will update it as new questions are thrown at me.

Business headshot of a young woman

Firstly let me just say that there is no ‘right thing to wear’ when it comes to corporate headshots. Each company/person is different with regards to ‘acceptable attire’. Walk into most Financial institutions and pretty much every woman in sight will have a blouse/shirt on with either a skirt or trousers. All very formal indeed. Walk into most new Software houses (IT world) and you’ll see mostly jeans and t-shirts.

You are the star

Secondly, what you wear isn’t really the point of corporate headshots. Unlike fashion shoots where it’s all about the clothing, corporate headshots are ALL about YOU.

So think about how you wish to portray not only yourself but your business. What would you wear to meet with a prospect or client? That’s a great place to start.

If you would generally dress formally for client meetings, that’s what you want to wear for your shoot. If you’re more relaxed and ‘hip’ and would attend a meeting in more casual attire, that’s what you wear for your shoot.

There is no point in shooting in formal wear, and then arriving at your client meeting in casual clothing (and vice versa). 

Know the background colour

Know what your background will be prior to deciding upon your outfit. Outfit colours that work against a black background, don’t always work on a white one, and vice versa.

If you’ve decided on a black/dark background, then opt for light or vivid colours. I personally love red and yellows against a black background.

Headshot of a businesswoman

If you’ve decided on a white background, then darker mid-tone colours will create more contrast (greens/blues/reds)

Business headshot of a businesswoman

If you’ve chosen a lifestyle type setting (outside your office, in the street, at your desk) then consider the colours surrounding you.

Clothing/outfit tips for your corporate headshots


Try to avoid heavily patterned clothing. Patterns can distract and as stated above, YOU are the focus of the image.

Colour choice

You can never go wrong with Mid Tone colours (yellow. green, blue etc) and these work well against both a white or black background, or indeed in a ‘lifestyle’ type shot. They also convert very well to black and white if this is your intended outcome.

Black – is a safe colour which is generally associated with being guarded (think goths). So if you are someone who likes to wear black, you may want to consider alternatives like dark greens, navy blue etc.

Pastels – be weary of pastels as they can often be similar to skin tones and the portrait can, therefore, look weak and a little washed out. Same applies to creams.

Comfort and fit

Of utmost importance is to wear something you feel comfortable and good in. There’s no point going out and purchasing an outfit specifically for your shoot that doesn’t fit with everything else that is in your wardrobe.

Be conscious of fit, both loose or tight-fitting clothing can make you appear heavier. Too big, and we lose your body shape. Too tight and you may lose a button!

To wear a jacket or not to wear a jacket

Once again, this is entirely personal to you. Would you normally wear a jacket for a client meeting? If yes, bring a jacket. If no, don’t.

A jacket is a very quick change, so if you’re in doubt, bring one with you and we’ll take a few images with and without it and you can then decide which you prefer.

If you do decide to wear a jacket, the suggestion for a woman is to match it with a collarless top to keep the neckline sleek.

Hair and makeup

Again, wear (or don’t) makeup as you would apply it if you were attending a client meeting. What you want to portray in your headshot, is the person that your prospect and/or client will meet face to face.

If you don’t normally wear makeup to client meetings, then don’t apply makeup for your shoot.

DO NOT overdo it! Putting too much foundation or makeup can result in pronounced differences in your skin tone between your face and neck.

DO NOT use products with glitter/sparkle in them (even if this is something you’d usually wear)

Corporate headshot of a woman


If you usually wear glasses and don’t intend to wear them in your shoot, please remove them at least 30 minutes prior to the shoot.

Often glasses can leave marks across the bridge of your nose and also sides of your head by your ears. Not a great look in images.

Similarly, don’t wear sunglasses on your way to the shoot.

Must-do items for your corporate headshots

  • Please ensure your chosen outfit is properly ironed.

  • Remove glasses at LEAST 30 minutes prior to your shoot if you intend to not shoot with them on

  • Get plenty of rest the night before your shoot. A tired look doesn’t make for an awesome portrait image.

  • Hydrate yourself properly. This doesn’t mean having 10 cups of tea/coffee before your shoot! Try to consume as much water as you can.

  • Give yourself time. Ensure you’ve allowed sufficient time before and after your shoot to allow you to be as relaxed as possible on your way to, and during the shoot.

  • Don’t stress! Not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera. It is the job of the photographer (hopefully me!) to make you feel at ease and comfortable, so that the smile we capture is a genuine one, and not forced.

  • If you’re travelling to the photographer, ensure you have your hairbrush and makeup kit with you in case you need to do any touch-ups.

  • Try not to drink anything that can stain your teeth on the day (coffee, tea, wine etc). And have your toothbrush to hand for that last-minute brush before your shoot.

Suggestions for your corporate headshots

  • Try to avoid sleeveless tops. This can adversely highlight the difference in skin tones between your arms and your face (most people have more tanned faces than bodies in the UK). Of course, if you’re confident that your skin tones are consistent between your face and arms, and sleeveless is your thing, then, by all means, opt for that.

  • Jewellery -by all means, wear jewellery that will compliment your outfit. If you have a necklace for example that you are always wearing, then wear it to your shoot. Be aware that in headshot photography, any item going below your sternum may be cropped out. So if you have a long necklace you may want to clip it behind your neck to shorten it.

  • If you’ve never had a professional shoot before, or simply don’t enjoy having your image taken, then it would be highly recommended that you ask family or friends to spend some time taking pictures of you.

  • Try different poses. Find a smile you’re happy with.

Now that you’re armed with the necessary information to rock the catwalk, take a look at my corporate headshots packages on my website or here on the blog and book your shoot now!

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EmC Photography

Baines Coney

United Kingdom (UK)

Tel: 07545 287 079


Cambridge. London. England. Wales. Scotland. United Kingdom. Norwich. Ipswich.

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