How to Prepare for a Corporate Headshot or Team Photo Session
After over 15 years of capturing headshots and team photos, I’m dishing out everything you need to know to get prepared for your photo session. And I mean everything. I’ll cover general photoshoot tips, what to wear, what to bring, what to expect, and cover some additional tips to make it extra helpful.
Headshots are essential for connecting with your customers and clients. When people find you online, they decide whether or not they want to invest in you or your company. One of the first questions they will ask is, “Who is this business?” Your customers need to easily find authentic photos of the people behind your business. It matters.
Headshots and group photos of your team are often one of the first things you can use to build brand trust, and professional photos will also communicate quality to your customers. To help you look your best, I’ve put together this guide to help you create wonderful photos.
Choose Colors Wisely
Choose colors that fall in the mid-tone to jewel-tone color rangeand avoid pastels and neons. The best colors to wear for headshots are the colors that lie in the mid-tone area of the color spectrum or the muted or dark tones.
A few of my favorite colors for headshots are burgundy, navy, plum, emerald green, and charcoal. Within each of these colors, however, is a tonal range, and your skin tones should help you determine which specific tones of each color work for you.
Do not wear bright pink, bright orange, turquoise, mint green, coral, or any neon colors
Solids tend to photograph best
No tweed (synthetic print or real) or tight patterns -these create a moire effect in photos viewed online. This effect looks like wavy lines that dance around on clothing on a screen but not in real life.
Avoid small polka dots, pinstripes, small checks, and tight patterns
Most photographers will tell you not to wear all black or all white. I really love all-black for black-and-white portraits, and if white is in your color palette, a white button-up can be a clean, classic look (wear a no-show white cami underneath) and pair with a jacket.
Dress like you’re trying to impress your ideal customer or a prospective client.
Consider your Profession
Lawyers, government employees, or people working in more conservative industries should wear darker and more formal clothing. Men should wear solid suits with solid shirts and ties.
People working in start-ups or less traditional industries can wear a little more casual clothing for headshots. Maybe consider wearing no ties or jackets in these instances.
Artists can do just about anything, but don’t wear anything that will detract from your face or purpose for the shoot.
The best necklines for photos are modest v-necks, boat, or crew necklines.
Avoid turtlenecks or scarves that can’t be loosened around your neck. Turtlenecks make you look like you have no neck, and in photos, can make you look out of proportion.
Avoid really low necklines that you’ll be tugging on or look back and regret.
Avoid buttoned shirts that are too tight around your neck. If you wear a buttoned shirt, it should fit without causing bulging.
Long sleeves or three-quarter sleeves look more professional. Because I typically have you turned at an angle to the camera, your arms will be the most camera-forward part of you. Unless you absolutely love your arms, you will want long sleeves.
If you decide on a tank top or sleeveless top, bring a sweater or jacket to pair it with
Layers work well, but think about about fit and color. Lighter colors should be underneath, with darker colors over the top in suit jackets and blazers.
If you don’t love your midsection, pick a jacket, sweater or blazer that can be buttoned.
Clothing should be well-tailored and fitted.
Avoid baggy or loose clothing, as it will make you look larger in photos.
Do not choose fabrics that are clingy or shiny, especially thin, stretchy polyester or velvet. These fabrics highlight every bump and crease. Do not wear silver or shimmery gold.
Stay away from wearing something that is too tight, as this can lead to bulging.
Longer shirts are best if you plan to be untucked. They elongate your torso and hide mid-section insecurities.
Longer skirts (a little above the knee or longer) and no shorts are best if you plan on doing full-body photos.
Miscellaneous Clothing Tips
Arrive with clothing pressed and lint-free. If you are wearing a shirt that wrinkles easily, hang it up and put it on right before photos to avoid it getting wrinkly in the car. It is not my job to photoshop this out.
Wear the right bra for the shirt you will wear. Make sure the color won’t show through. Watch for lines and seams from bras that might show through shirts. If you are going strapless or with a tank top, wear a strapless bra (but again, I generally don’t recommend sleeveless or short sleeves for headshots).
Avoid logos of any kind, unless they are your company logo.
Makeup for Headshots and Professional Photos
In general, keep makeup natural. Aim for an everyday look you would normally wear, but be strategic about applying it with the following tips.
Skincare Before Your Session
Wear sunscreen in the weeks leading up to your shoot! Racoon eyes or peeling skin are not fixable during edits.
Drink extra water the week prior to your photos.
Don’t get anything waxed or threaded the day of or the day prior to your photos. Waxing or eyebrow threading can lead to redness. Avoid any major skincare treatment in the same week as your photos.
Schedule a haircut a couple of weeks in advance instead of right before your session, just in case you don’t love it or in case you need a little time to learn to style it.
Avoid shiny, glowy, or dewy makeup, like those that contain minerals or sunscreen.
Use a matte foundation that matches your skin tone and blends well with the skin color on your chest and neckline. Don’t apply foundation too thick; it will cake and enhance wrinkles.
For more mature skin, use a thin liquid foundation rather than thick liquid or powder foundation. Thick makeup settles into fine lines and wrinkles and makes you look older. Opt for a light foundation with a touch of moisturizing quality, then cover any noticeable shine with a translucent powder.
If you have makeup with some shine, use a loose, matte finishing powder over the top, like Laura Mercier’s Translucent Finishing Powder.
Use concealer a bit more liberally than normal to cover any blemishes, but make sure it’s blended well.
Lipstick for Photos
DO NOT wear super bold/dark lipstick. Lipstick should be one shade darker than your natural color and it should stay in line with your color palettes. Dark tones make your lips look thinner.
Wear lipstick with a slight shimmer or gloss. Matte lipstick also makes your lips look thinner.
Avoid strong lip lines and avoid going outside your natural lines to make lips appear bigger. Both are picked up easily on camera and look strange.
Choose neutral tones for your eyeshadow.
Highlight with a matte ivory or white shade under the browline to make eyes appear more open. Concealer sometimes does the trick.
Do NOT wear eyeliner on the lower lash line. It closes down your eyes, makes them appear smaller, and makes you look older.
Avoid fake lashes, especially really long ones, as they also tend to close down your eyes, add shadows under your eyes and make eyes appear smaller.
Avoid shimmery eye shadow. Shimmer falls into creases and accentuates lines.
Only wear glasses that have minimal to no reflective coating. The purple tint that helps with screen glare is a nightmare for photos. Please, please, please try to bring a pair without coating. Sometimes you can borrow a display pair from your optometrist that doesn’t have coating.
Make sure the lenses are clean before your headshots.
I love jewelry, but try to keep it somewhat subtle so it doesn’t distract from your face.
Try to avoid anything super flashy, shiny or sparkly to avoid it catching light and becoming a distraction.
Only use products that enhance shine. Don’t use mattifying products (be careful with dry shampoos on this front).
Do your hair in a style you typically wear. Photo day is not the day to try a new style.
Do not wear your hair in a bun or ponytail. It can look like you don’t have hair, or if your head is turned, like you have a big bump on one side.
Bring a comb or brush and some hairspray with you.
Wear facial hair the way you normally would. If you’re normally clean-shaven, use an electric razor to avoid redness.
My #1 tip is to practice your look on a day before your shoot and get someone to take some photos on their phone of you in good daylight so you can see the whole look beforehand.
What to Expect From Us
The truth is, I am not your run-of-the-mill photographer. I make sure people are comfortable during their shoot. The thought of “what am I supposed to do with my hands” has plagued every single one of us any time we have stepped in front of the camera. Let me be the first to say that I TOTALLY GET IT! But don’t worry, I will help you pose.
We will meet face to face at your scheduled date, chat, and get warmed up. Arrive at least 10 minutes early. I will begin shooting at your scheduled time and will not be able to go over the appointment time if you are late unless you are willing to pay extra and I don’t have a shoot after. We will do several poses to give you options for the final gallery.
If you still feel a bit awkward and don’t quite know what to do, I’ve got all the ideas of things you can do that will be natural for you. Trust us. I am not going to let you look weird. I am not going to judge you. I am here to cheer you on and tell you how awesome you are.
I realize this is a lot to process! Please reach out if you need help deciding what to wear for headshots or if you have any questions. Of course, these are general tips, not hard and fast rules that apply to everyone all the time.