• Exposures by Rah | Traverse City Photo

What to Wear for Your Professional Headshot


A good business headshot helps you instantly convey who you are and what you do. Take the time to think about the kind of image you want to portray in your business headshots - what type of photo would your ideal client respond to? Depending on the kind of business you're in, you may want to come across as helpful, hip, approachable or creative. If you work in a licensed professional field, you may prefer to project an air of formality, knowledge and trustworthiness. Remember the focus for the business headshot is your face. Everything – the background, lighting and clothing – should be kept simple to frame your face. Follow the KISS principle (keep it simple, silly) and you’ll be fine.

1. Color Palette

Plain colors are best for business portraits. Patterns or prints distract and date your photo. Choose mid- tone colors in blue, green, wine and purple because they are universally flattering. Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones (cream, beige, pastels, peach or yellow) as they will blend your face into your clothes. Unless you’re feeling super confident, pass on bright red or orange. Stark black and white are not good choices either because they play havoc with the camera’s exposure or the studio backdrop. Substitute black with richer neutrals like chocolate, navy, maroon and forest green. Black is sombre, safe and guarded, not likely the vibe you want to project. A fail-safe tip is to pick a top that compliments your eyes.

2. Neckline

A modest v-neck is universally flattering because it lengthens the neck and displays the décolleté. Opt for blouses with sleeves. Fine to medium gauge knits work really well too because they introduce textural interest. If you choose to wear a jacket, pair it with a collarless top. This is modern and keeps the neckline simple and sleek. Crisply ironed shirts by themselves frame the face really well.

3. Jewelry

In keeping with the KISS principle, ladies should choose simple earrings and necklaces. Men who are dressing in a suit should have a subtle tie & tie clip. This will keep the focus on the face. Big statement jewelry will date your photos.

4. Pose

We'll help you with this, don't worry! When you’re in front of the camera, angles are your friend because they create shadows, that if used correctly can make you look even slimmer. We never suggest directly facing the camera. Turn one shoulder closer to the camera so your body is at an angle. Here’s my favorite trick to avoid a double chin. Jut your head forward (think gooseneck!) and tip your chin down. This feels ridiculous, but works because it makes the jawline tighter.

5. Smile

At the end of the day, the key to a wonderful business headshot is your smile. It might take you a few moments to relax in front of the camera. Once you’re comfortable, stare straight down the barrel of the lens and think of someone you love. That feeling shows up as beautiful smile in your mouth and your eyes. Ready? Say monkey!


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