Scheduling your first professional headshot session can be intimidating. It’s difficult to know how to prepare for a photo shoot that will become the face of your professional career. Balancing your personality and professionalism in one photo may seem impossible, but fear not! As a professional headshot photographer, I’m here to put your fears at rest and offer you a few tips to keep in mind in the weeks leading up to your photo session.
1. Know Your Personal Brand.
How do you want your audience to perceive you? This is a crucial step in putting yourself out in the market as a professional. When someone sees your photo or hears your name, what do you want them to associate you with? Is there a certain subject or industry you want to be perceived as an expert? As in all industries, the market is full of other experts in the field competing against you. Ask yourself this additional question, “how do I stand out from the rest?” Knowing these answers will help you with the next steps in preparing for your headshot session.
When building your personal brand, your style is a key factor. An outfit can highlight your personality, establish you as an expert in your industry, and build trust. When picking an outfit, be sure to stay on brand and remember first impressions matter!
Your headshot can be customized to your industry. If you’re a fitness instructor, wearing a nice athletic outfit shows you are serious and are an expert in your field. However, for a realtor, an athletic outfit wouldn’t make sense. Choose a professional suit or stylish outfit that highlights your personality while demonstrating professionalism.
To ensure your headshots will last for a few years, pick pieces that are as timeless as possible. Avoid loud patterns or trendy styles that won’t last forever (after all, what is “in” today may be “out” tomorrow). Also avoid loud and distracting colors and instead pick soft colors (let’s leave the neon colors at home and go with blush or cream instead). And finally, wear classic accessories (jewelry, watches, etc.) that are on brand and stay away from big, chunky loud pieces. Again, these may be in style now but won’t be tomorrow.
Now that you have an outfit and accessories selected, it’s time to start planning your hairstyle. When getting ready for your headshot session, it’s important to give yourself enough time to get ready and ensure your hair is done more than any normal day. This photo is meant to present the best version of yourself, and frizzy bed head just won’t cut it.
If you have enough time before your shoot, consider going to your hairstylist. Even a quick trim a few days before can give you a clean look for your photos and reduce flyaway hairs. Men, this goes for your facial hair as well! Make sure you tidy up your beard at least a day or two before. The day of your session, consider styling your facial hair a bit more than normal to keep straggling hairs at bay.
The camera gear and lighting equipment used in professional photos capture sharp images and show every detail. Although Photoshop is an amazing tool, preparing your face for your shoot is important! If you don’t wear makeup – and that is on brand for you – coming to your shoot with a clean, washed face is important.
Even if you wear makeup every day, give yourself enough time to finish styling before your headshot session. Cameras can wash out subtle makeup, so add on a little more than you normally would to make sure your features will stand out. It doesn’t have to be too crazy or glamorous, just a little extra will make a lot of difference. Make sure to bring your make-up bag to your session for any last-minute touch ups. Even men can benefit from a clean face and subtle makeup! A tiny layer of foundation or a sprinkle of powder will even out skin tone and reduce oily skin.
5. Drink plenty of water a few days before your session.
Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. This is one of the most important things before any photo shoot, but especially a professional headshot. Start a few days in advance to make sure you (and your skin) are hydrated enough. Hydrated skin is more elastic, can reduce oil production, and help give you a radiant glow (read more about the importance of hydration for your skin here). This is just what you need for your professional headshot!
Just like drinking enough water, getting enough rest is extremely important. This will help reduce any tired bags under your eyes and give you enough energy to have fun with your headshot session! If you don’t like to wear a lot of makeup, getting good sleep the night before can help reduce the need for heavy makeup application. Feeling rested is one of the best ways to feel like yourself – one of the most important things for your headshot photo session!