A good headshot (or business portrait, since many professionals choose a wider crop these days than the traditional headshot including only head-and-shoulders) can be a powerful asset for you in your professional life, whether you need it for a job search, for a presentation you’re giving, or your website. Several of my clients have even used their business portraits for online dating! No matter what your final goal, some preparation before your session can go a long way towards making the whole process smooth, and making sure you’re happy with the resulting images.
Think about your goals for your portraits
What do you want to convey in your images? It’s ok to go for several different vibes, but if you’re able to think ahead of time of what you want to get across to your audience, it will be a lot easier to get there. One client mostly wanted to convey a friendly-and-approachable, but still professional look, but she also works in what can be a very tough-going, aggressive profession, so we also got some images for her where she was exuding “bad ass” — it was a lot of fun, and was a huge confidence boost for her! Another client was job-hunting (and had been for a while) — he really wanted more than anything for his portrait to say “hire me! I’m easy to work with and competent,” so that was the look we went for. A tutoring company wanted to make sure that all their employees looked knowledgeable to the parents, but easily relatable to the teens they work with. What you’re looking for will depend greatly on your industry and your goals!
Clothing, Hair, and Makeup
Ah, the millions dollar question! What should I wear? This is something that will depend greatly on your answers to point #1 above — what are you trying to convey? No matter what, it should be something you feel good in — something that helps you feel confident. If you are in an industry where suits are standard, it would be a good idea to wear a suit, but if you work in a more casual field, don’t feel like you need to be dressed to the nines just because it’s a business portrait — these images need to represent you and your work. The most important things to consider, no matter what your outfit, is that it is clean, ironed if necessary, and that it won’t distract the viewer from your gorgeous face. Wait, how will you know if it meets that last criterion? Generally you want a solid color, in a shade that’s flattering for you, without busy patterns or distracting graphics (the exception to this is that if you wear a uniform for work, the company logo is an asset rather than a liability). Choosing something simple, and then accessorizing to provide some pizazz is a great choice since it gives us lots of options during your session — with and without your snazzy jacket or scarf, or statement necklace or earrings. It helps give variety without having to change your entire outfit.
Once your outfit and accessories are settled, it’s time to think about your hair, and, for women, makeup should you choose to wear it. These are, of course, all very personal decisions, which will ultimately reflect parts of who you are, and what you want to show the world. If you are getting a haircut, it can be helpful to do so 1-2 weeks ahead of your session so it has time to settle in. I don’t recommend trying a drastically new hairstyle the day of the shoot — aim for something tried and true which you are comfortable with and confident in. Likewise on the makeup front — if you’re someone who never wears makeup, or only wears a minimum, that’s fine! There’s no need to go all out if that’s not something you normally do. If that IS something you normally do, go for it! Get all dolled up and enjoy!
All of my work is done on location. For many professionals, outdoor business portraits are all the rage, and we have lots of excellent options for outdoor locations to convey a wide variety of moods — urban brick, sophisticated limestone, lush green parks — there are a whole bunch of options! If outdoor business portraits aren’t really your thing, I also am happy to come to your office space — this can be a great option to showcase your own work! It’s really entirely up to you what you want to do in terms of location, and I am happy to offer specific guidance for your situation.
Relax and have fun!
Most important of all is this last point — the more you are able to relax and trust the process, the easier it will be. I promise this doesn’t need to be scary (and let me know if there’s something you’re particularly concerned about so I can make sure to keep it in mind). One of the nice thing about business portraits is that we get to know one another a bit, laugh, and have fun! I understand many people believe they are “un-photogenic” but I believe there is no such thing — there is beauty in each person, and I take great joy in bringing that out in images you will love!