Professional Headshots - What to Wear

November 23, 2021  •  Leave a Comment


Professional Headshots - What to Wear

To get the most out of your professional headshot shoot, it makes sense to take the time to consider and plan what to wear.

A good headshot should represent you at your best, drawing our eyes to you – and isn’t distracted by what you are wearing.

Here are my thoughts on what (and what not) to wear.


Don’t distract from your face !

Remember for a headshot shoot, the shoot is all about the ‘headshot’ – ie your face and eyes.  So you don’t want to wear anything that will distract from it – well unless it is part of the representation of your brand.

So, I would recommend no logo’s (unless its Brand specific) or distracting patterns; and avoid shiny fabrics – these can be reflective which will be distracting.

While pops of colour are great, nothing too bright or bold that it distracts from you.  And keep in mind that pastel colours can make you appear washed out – depending on your skin tone.

Keep it timeless – classic styles in natural fabrics are great – avoid ‘trend’ items that may make your headshot look out of date quickly.

The above also applies with ties.  Pick ties with muted or subtle patterns, in classic colours, with no shine.  Ie, not something that will distract or date quickly.

Female headshot, subject wearing a white top and has long brown hair.  Shot with windows in the backgroundFemale Headshot Headshot of a male wearing a blue shirt, shot against a grey backgroundMale Headshot Female headshot, with subject wearing a brown top, shot against. cream backgroundFemale Headshot


Wear clothes that fit well !

During the shoot you want to be comfortable – so it’s important to wear clothes that fit well.  We all know that wearing something that’s a bit tight can make you feel a bit awkward.  We want you to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

Of course we’re talking about headshots here, so its what you’re wearing on your top half that’s most important.  If you are wearing something too tight it can be a distraction in the image – for example if the sleeves are tight, and there is puckering around the armpit, or across the bust/shoulders.

Similarly, if you’ve lost weight or are petite, and you’re wearing something too big and baggy, it can give you that ‘swamped’ look.  Luckily I always have clips on hand to cinch clothes in if necessary.

Avoid sleeveless tops – arms can be distracting, and may be closer to the camera than your face depending on your body position.  Similarly – avoid anything too low cut.


How do you want to be seen ?

Consider the look and persona you are going for – and your audience.  Formal and serious, relaxed and fun – or a mix of both.

For business or corporate headshots, a classic professional looking suit or clean-cut office wear is ideal.  But, you may also want to consider having both smarter and more relaxed looks available to cover different scenarios.  Changing things up doesn’t have to be complicated – an open necked shirt, and then jacket added changes things completely.

For example, on a recent shoot my client wanted both formal corporate and business casual options for use on business pitches.  She now has different options to choose from to suit her audience, and the type of message she wants to deliver.

Similarly – Actors always require a variety of looks to demonstrate their range.  They then have options to select from depending on the type of role they are being put forward for.

Female HeadshotFemale Headshot

Female Headshot corporateFemale Headshot corporate


Hair and make-up

Try not to overdo makeup – wear what you would normally wear.  People want to see you as you are – and in particular for Actor headshots, it’s important to represent yourself as naturally as possible.

A natural matt, non-shiny look is recommended.  It can be adjusted during the shoot, so feel free to bring options with you.

Hair can also be adjusted during the shoot.  And, if you have long hair I recommend having images shot with your hair up and down – in particular for Actor headshots - to give you plenty of variety.

Female actor headshot, subject has long red hair, and is wearing a yellow top.  Image shot outside.Female Headshot Female actor headshot, shot outside, subject has red hair in a ponytail, wearing a dark jacketFemale Headshot Female headshot, wearing a white top with hair upFemale actor headshot Female actor headshot, wearing a black top with long dark hairFemale actor headshot


Shall I take my glasses off ?

Female wearing glasses and a dark purple top, shot against a dark backgroundFemale Headshot Glasses

Female Headshot with GlassesFemale Headshot with Glasses

I’m always asked this by glasses wearers.  This depends - do your audience know you as a glasses wearer, or not.

If you just have your glasses on when reading, but don’t wear them all of the time, you may want your headshots without.  But if you always wear glasses at work, but contacts at the weekend, and your audience know you as a glasses wearer, you should certainly have some headshots with your glasses.  I would suggest shooting both options.

Just remember that if you are taking glasses off, your sight needs to be good enough to be able to see and focus down the camera lens.

To be honest, glasses can be a pain for photographers, due to issues with reflections – but that’s my issue not yours.  If you’ve invested in the non-reflective lenses fantastic – if not – I will adjust the lighting to do what we can to minimise any reflections.

If you do wear glasses, make sure they are nice and clean.


Still not sure ?

Luckily my headshot shoots include a pre-shoot consultation – where we will discuss clothing options.  I would always say – if you’re not sure bring it.

I always suggest having at least 3 top changes and layering options available to change your look.  During the shoot we will see what works and what doesn’t.

Try not to over-think it - wear clothes that are comfortable, work for the message you want to portray, and colours that flatter your skin tone and eyes.  Most importantly - BE YOU.






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