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What to Wear For A Headshot

Are you contemplating what to wear for a headshot? Here are answers that will help:

Think about:

What makes you unique?
What are your goals for the shoot?
Where will you use your headshot?
What “personality” do you wish to convey? 

Ready to book your headshot?

First some overall tips:

Sessions booked for less than an hour provide for a short time, so there won’t be time to work with multiple outfits. But, if you think layers there will be an opportunity to do shots, for example, with or without a blazer or a sweater. Be sure to use complementary colors when layering.  

Avoid white or light pastels, as these often do not translate well on camera. Rich, deep colors are your friend.

Avoid wearing shiny clothing and anything that shows too much skin on your upper body (low-cut tops, sleeveless or off the shoulder outfits).  

Wear what you are comfortable with. Remember, the picture will be cropped just below your shoulders, so don’t worry about pants, shoes, socks, or any of that. (I mean, wear some, yes, but they won’t be in your headshot.)

Bay Area Portrait Photography - What To Wear For A Headshot - Darrel G shines in his business headshot

What to Wear for Business Headshots   
(think LinkedIn)

Think about what industry you’re in, and how people in that industry dress. For example, lawyers working at traditional, conservative companies usually wear formal outfits and stick with darker, conservative colors.

People at startup technology companies often wear casual outfits and brighter colors.

For artists (such as authors, musicians, painters, etc.) the rules are looser because there is no standard expected clothing style.

Consider wearing something just one step above what you would normally wear to work.

Tip: Go to Google Image Search and type “(your industry) headshot.” For example, type “real estate headshot” or “lawyer headshot.” You’ll instantly get an idea of what style of clothing people wear in headshots for that line of work.

Ready to book your headshot?

Bay Area Portrait Photography - What To Wear For A Headshot - A simple button down shirt for actor Manuel C

What to Wear for Actor & Modeling Headshots

It’s common to wear a casual outfit like a t-shirt and leather jacket or a simple button-down shirt. You usually don’t need formal clothing unless the specific characters you’ll be playing typically wear formal outfits.  (if you are up for the next James Bond for example)

For models, remember that the headshot is about YOU, not about the clothing you’re wearing. Don’t wear clothes that will distract from your face. 

If you’re an actor submitting to commercial auditions, you should try wearing something more casual and colorful.

Bay Area Portrait Photography - What To Wear For A Headshot - Hannah S dazzles with her smile

What to Wear for Social Media Profile Photos  (and Online Dating)

​Stick with something simple for social media and online dating headshots. At the same time though, you should look put-together enough that someone looking at your photo gets a good first impression.

Think of it as a first date. You probably wouldn’t dress up in a formal suit if you’re meeting someone for the first time or going out with someone for drinks. But you probably would spend a bit more time putting together your outfit than you would if you were just sitting around your house.

Bay Area Portrait Photography - What not to wearWhat Should You NOT Wear for a Headshot?

 In general, almost all clothing styles work for headshots. But problems start to creep up when people break rules and wear things that look distracting.

    • Avoid Strong Patterns
    • Avoid Logos or Pictures
    • Avoid Too Many Accessories
    • Avoid Sleeveless Tops
    • Avoid Clothes That Don’t Fit Well
    • Avoid Low-Cut Necklines or Turtleneck Shirts
    • Avoid Shiny Clothing

Bay Area Portrait Photography - strong makeup makes strong headshots

A Quick Note on Makeup and Hair

Makeup for the camera is different from makeup for everyday life. Camera lighting washes out your face, so your makeup needs to be more pronounced than what you’d do normally.

If you plan to hire a makeup artist, be sure to use someone who has experience in headshots. 

Here are a few hair and makeup tips if you’re planning to do it yourself:

    • Keep your hair simple and remember we can’t see what’s behind your head 
    • Don’t do your makeup significantly different than usual
    • Contour your face a bit more
    • Add extra powder to cover up shine
    • Bring extra makeup and make adjustments after the photographer takes a test shot 

A Final Thought

Put some thought and planning into what you will wear, make sure it is clean and not wrinkled, then come join me and have fun. This is not rocket science (unless of course you are a rocket scientist)

Ready to book your headshot?

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