8 Tricks to Get the Best Headshots... Minus the Headache!

Your professional headshots need to make an impression--and make it a good one! These 8 tips and tricks will help you make sure that you dress your best for incredible portraits that show your greatest qualities.

#1 Eyes Will Go Where Skin Shows

If there was only one piece of styling advice we could give, it would be this one: remember that viewer's eyes will go wherever there is skin showing.

So what does this mean for professional business portraits? Wear long sleeves to draw all of the attention to your face!

Bare arms and shoulders might feel refreshing, but in a professional portrait it can seem distracting. There are some cases where bare arms are acceptable, but many people feel self-conscious about how their arms look, so the easy solution is to just cover up.

#2 Solid Colors

Patterns and prints can look stunning in person. Unfortunately, they can be quite distracting in a photograph. And, of course, the most important feature of your professional portrait is, of course, YOU, not what you're wearing. 

To make sure the attention is on you, wear solid colors for your professional portrait. This will ensure that your clothing won't be distracting or cause any clashing looks. 

#3 Dark Shades and Cool Hues

Sure... that bright, lime green dress shirt can be fun to break out on Fridays, but it's not the best for a professional portrait.

There are two things to consider when choosing what color to wear: the shade and the tone.

Shade is how light or dark the color is. When choosing an outfit for your professional portraits, pick colors in the dark to medium range. You want to avoid very bright colors as they can overpower an image.

The tone is how "cool" or "warm" a color is. For your portrait, choose a color that's cool to neutral--such as blue or grey. Cooler colors bring out the warmth of your skin, complimenting it well.

BONUS: When to Wear White

White shirts present a similar problem to loud colors--they're just too bright!

However, there is a time and a place for white shirts. One example is a white-on-white portrait such as the one pictured. 

The other way to wear white is with a dark jacket or blazer over a white top. This breaks up the brightness, keeping it from being too distracting. 

#4 Glasses

For many people, their glasses are part of their signature look. If this describes you, just keep in mind that the lenses may cause glares across your eyes when photographed.

We use high-quality professional lighting and glasses sometimes catch and reflect the light, hiding your eyes. We suggest wearing contacts, or at least bring them along just in case your glasses become problematic.

If you don't have contacts, or your glasses are a central part of your style, consider bringing a second pair of frames without the lenses. That way you can get photographed with them, minus the glare.

#5 Hair Styling, Facial Hair, and Make-Up

Your face and your hair are your most prominent features and there are a few things you can do to make sure you're ready for your portraits.

First, if you have facial hair be sure to trim it the morning of your photoshoot, cleaning up any hairs that stick out, for a well-groomed, professional look.

If you choose to wear make-up, light to natural application tends to work best. More importantly though, wear the amount of make-up that makes you feel most comfortable and confident. 

As far as hair styling goes, a style with full body works best. Waves or curls can help add texture, but straight hair with some volume at the roots looks good as well. If you have long hair, wearing it down will help frame your face.

#6 Fitted Clothing

Modern Headshots and Personal Branding portraits are not just your traditional head and shoulders look. Instead, we use more contemporary posing and compositions which include mid-body and 3/4 body compositions.

Because of this, be sure to wear fitted clothing. Loose clothing can add unwanted bulk--instead, wear tops that are form fitting (but not skin-tight). If you're worried about your size, don't worry. The posing we guide you through is designed to have a slimming effect, but we can only achieve the right look if you're dressed for it. So ditch the loose and baggy clothing and opt for something a little more snug.

If you plan on wearing a suit jacket or blazer, which tend to add a little more bulk, make sure that it is well-tailored. Having a proper cut to your jacket will add to your look and compliment your body type.

# 7 Small Details

The old cliché of "it's the small things that matter" applies to professional headshots as well. So here are a few small things to keep in mind:

1. Trim or file your nails before your photoshoot in case your hands are in your final image. If you like to paint your fingernails, make sure to put a fresh the day before so you don't have any chips or cracks in the polish.

2. Keep lip balm on hand to prevent any dry or chapped lips throughout your session.

3. If you're prone to dry skin, you may also want to apply some non-greasy lotion to help you look well-hydrated in your portraits.

#8 Final Touches

Take a minute or two to check how you look in the dressing room mirror right before you get in front of the camera. Check for any stray hairs that need to be smoothed down. Check your teeth. If you're wearing a tie, check to make sure it's on straight. 

Even if you woke up late and ate breakfast in the car on your way to the studio, taking a little bit of time right before getting in front of the camera to make sure all of the little details are in place will help your portrait be it's best.

BONUS: When in Doubt, Bring Extra

If you're still unsure of what to wear for your professional headshots, feel free to bring along a couple extra options! Our photographer will help you pick out what will look best.

Keep any extra tops or jackets on hangers to prevent wrinkles and, if you plan on wearing coordinating jewelry, store them in plastic baggies or a little extra organization. 

Our Modern Headshot sessions include up to three outfit changes, but feel free to bring along a couple extra options to choose from if you need help deciding.


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As a full-service photography studio in Dubuque, Iowa for over 25 years, Elite Images really knows how to make Headshots awesome! With fun, fully-guided photoshoots specifically created to bring out your  best, confident self for images that you all fall absolutely in love with. Every portrait session at Elite Images features professional lighting and all images are color corrected and fully retouched to bring out your best qualities.

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