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How to prepare for a headshot

These days everybody needs a good headshot, whether it’s for business or social media. Your photographer has the studio, the expensive camera, the lights, and the know-how, but what can you do to get the best headshot possible?

First, think about the image that you want to project. Professional? Friendly? Competent? Outgoing? All of the above? Steve Fogel, a Redwood City portrait photographer, says, “go for confident and approachable.” Confidence comes from the eyes. You know that dear-in-the-headlights look where your eyes are wide open? Well, do the opposite. Narrow them just the tiniest bit for a confident look. But narrowed eyes without a smile just looks mean! So give the most natural smile you can. Now you’re both confident and approachable. By the way, the best smile for most people shows a little bit of teeth.

Next is hair and makeup. Ask your stylist to style your hair in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. Again, it’s about confidence. Avoid long hair that falls both in front and in back of you, and is messy on your shoulders. Pony tails are fine! 

If you do your own makeup, keep it simple. Use a base to avoid shine, but be aware that the photographer might give you oil absorbing sheets at the beginning of the session, so use a base that doesn’t smear. Also, Fogel suggests that you avoid eyeliner on the bottom lid. If you’re going to use a makeup artist, just show up with a clean face.

Next, wardrobe. Don’t worry about pants or skirts, because a headshot is from mid-chest up. Bring layers to the shoot: undergarments, blouses, dress shirts, jackets. Solid colors are best. Important: Make sure everything is wrinkle-free. Ask the photographer ahead of time if they have a steamer.

Regarding jewelry: avoid it. It’s a distraction in headshots.

Finally, check out the photographer’s web site to see other headshots. Solid white or gray backgrounds are best for business. Be prepared to tell the photographer what you intend to use the headshot for and have a phone chat before the shoot. That’s a sure way to avoid surprises and guarantee a successful and relaxed shoot.

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