Headshots Tips

What should you do to prepare for your session? We've compiled a list of helpful recommendations to help you look and feel your best during your photo shoot. Review this list and feel free to reach out with any questions that aren't answered in this handy guide.

What makes an individual headshot session different from a group booking?

  • Group shoots have a consistent look and feel - same background, style, and pose for everyone - and take 2-3 minutes per person to photograph

  • Individual sessions allow for 30-45 minutes for one person and can include different backgrounds, styles, a variety of poses and more than one look


Pick a style of shoot

What is the difference between a headshot and a portrait? A headshot generally includes the torso (from the waist up) or shoulders and head, while a portrait includes the whole body

  • Business Casual - nothing too formal, khakis or slacks, polos, dress shirt (with or without jacket), no tie

  • Formal - suit ( with tie), dress, “polished” appearance and details can include hair, makeup, accessories

  • Environmental - location based; tend to be more business casual (unless in office or board room settings)

  • Fun - studio or environmental, poses and facial expressions are more candid or relaxed, often non-formal attire

  • Vertical/Horizontal/Square -

    • Vertical - traditional head and torso

    • Horizontal - landscape view with subject smaller and background generally for marketing materials

    • Square - can be used for headshots, landscapes and marketing, or anything you may want to crop just a little differently; great for gifts or when you want your image to stand out


What to do before the shoot

  • Look at images to get an idea of poses, angles and looks that you like

  • It may sound cheesy but practice your poses in front of a mirror or have a friend snap pics of you on a phone so you can see how you look and adjust

  • Get a good night sleep the nights prior - helps eyes appear bright and skin look fresh

  • Hydrate well for several days prior (helps with wrinkles and under eye bags)

  • Allow plenty of travel time so you aren’t stressed or rushed to get to your shoot

  • Brush your teeth - no one wants to see remnants of your breakfast or lunch in your photos

  • Go to your barber or stylist prior to the shoot - fresh cuts, colors, etc

  • Don’t do dramatic beauty regimens or treatments too soon prior (peels, waxing, tattoos, piercings - redness can show or bandages can change how clothing fits/appears)

  • Men shave close to the shoot if you want to be clean shaven (5 o’clock shadow is difficult to edit)

  • If you wear contacts, bring saline or eye drops

  • Think ahead of time about how you will use your photos:

    • Personal (Social Media)

    • Professional (LinkedIn, Business Cards, Websites)

    • Avatar or Banner


Picking a background

  • Black - moody, classic, formal look

  • White - good for website usage, blends

  • Grey - more traditional look

  • Color - branding purposes or a fun shoot

  • Texture - traditional for realtors or high school portraits, generally grey or blue (marbled)

  • Location - non-studio shoot, river, park, forest, office, with different lighting considerations

What to wear

  • Wear something comfortable; visuals are important but so is comfort; if you are uncomfortable it will show

  • Solid colors (wild or tight, busy patterns aren’t good choices, because they can vary wildly in different mediums)

  • Something steamed or pressed (wrinkles will show and look unprofessional)

  • Something properly sized; if it’s too snug or it’s too big, it will show in the image

  • Collar stays for dress shirts for a crisp look


What not to wear

  • Clothing colors that clash with the background (and don’t try to match the color of a color background either)

  • Jewelry that can be distracting (i.e., very dangly, large, or too intricate)

  • Fancy, uncomfortable shoes (shoes aren’t in the photo, so wear something comfortable)


Hair tips

  • Consider paying for a professional hair and makeup artist for the shoot - it’s often worth it and can make things go more smoothly and quickly while ensuring you get the looks you want

  • Start with hair down and pull up later to avoid issues with bumps or lines

  • Bring your favorite hair products, brush, comb, etc. to touch up and extra bobby pins for up-dos


Makeup tips

  • Use lip balm or gloss

  • If you are wearing a lip color in the shoot, bring it for touch-ups


What to expect during the shoot

  • If you are getting shots for your company, check with them on specifications for backgrounds, sizes, cropping and attire and make sure you share these details with the photographer

  • Music is relaxing - think about what style or artist you want to play

  • Don’t force an unnatural facial expression; not everyone’s best headshot is smiling or serious - do what you are comfortable with

  • Squint a little - it is more relaxed and looks better than a startled wide-eyed image

  • Relax, take deep breaths, sip water if you need to get comfortable

  • We can experiment with positions and posing to find what you are most comfortable doing

  • You’ll have an opportunity to review images in real time on a computer screen and select the ones you want edited during the shoot


What to expect after the shoot

  • More time is spent post production than during the shoot; editing is done with attention to detail and with the proper editing tools - this is arguably one of the most valuable parts of your package cost

  • Let the photographer know if there is anything you do or do not want edited; we can enhance or clean up things but you still want it to look like you

  • More extensive editing (i.e., drastic changes, major fixes) is available for a charge


James Loving 

(804) 640-0121

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© 2018-19 James H. Loving

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