Loren O'Laughlin Creative

How to prepare for Professional Headshots

Added on by Loren O'Laughlin.

This is a living, breathing summary of the best advice I've learned, found, or just plain stolen.

Lets get you ready for your close-up.

If you only look at one thing here, watch "it's all about the jaw" (video)

Want to look more photogenic or photograph people looking more photogenic? Peter Hurley explains how he accentuates the jawline of his clients with a few simple tips that you'll want to add to your repertoire for quick use whenever you have a human being in front of your camera or are being photographed yourself.

...and if you only have time for two, watch "it's all about the squinch" (video)

Look more photogenic every time you step in front of a camera with this move PEOPLE! It's all about the Jaw started the series, so check that sucker out too!

The following is adapted from http://www.headshot-photos.com/tips_for_business_portraits.php

 General Tips

  • Tell us your expectations and intentions. Let us know what kind of look you want. Not sure? Tell us a little about your business and we'll help you achieve the right look.
  • Tell us how and where the photo will be used (so we can be sure it's appropriate)
  • Drink lots of water and be well rested (so your eyes will not have dark cirlces)
  • Your skin might not look it's best after drug/alcohol use. Try to abstain from these before your shoot
  • Arrive on time. Please do not arrive more than 5 minutes early (time slots are 15 minutes and we may have other clients scheduled before you)

What to Wear - Everyone

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you look great
  • Make sure your jacket and shirt fit you well. A poor fitting jacket or shirt will be obvious in the photos (especially around the neck)
  • Don't overdress
  • Clothes should be neatly pressed and should look new or like new
  • Blue/green/turquoise shirts/blouses or accents can help emphasize blue/green/hazel eyes

What to Wear - Men

  • The standard international business look is a suit jacket, dress shirt and tie. However, if you do business exclusively in Seattle or on the west coast , or you are in a more relaxed industry, this is probably "overdressed" for most applications.
  • A casual business look is often a jacket and open dress shirt, shirt and tie (no jacket), or dress shirt on it's own
  • Polo shirts are a good look for some businesses. Be sure the shirt collar is in good condition and fits well
  • For a no-jacket casual look wear colored shirts - ideally darker than your skin tone
  • A white dress shirt by itself is a bad idea - unless you plan to wear it underneath something (jacket or sweater)

What to Wear - Women

  • Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Choose wisely, ask a friend, or bring options.
  • For a no-jacket casual look, wear colored blouses - ideally darker than your skin tone
  • Be stylish and fashionable, but remember the picture is about your face and not your clothes
Remember: Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Select something that makes you look and feel good.


  • Keep jewelry extremely simple - small is better
  • Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated
  • The picture is about your face, not your jewelry

What to Bring

  • Your previous headshots (so we can improve)
  • A good attitude
  • Lip balm

Hair and Makeup Tips

  • Make-up should be clean and natural
  • Wear a heavy layer of translucent powder - your face will appear flawless in photos. Shine disappears, pores seem smaller, skin looks even, and blush is smoother
  • Line lips before applying matte lipstick, then reline. Don't overdo it. Dip a cotton bud in powder and run along lip line to prevent color from bleeding
  • Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine
  • Avoid frosts or overly-bright colors
  • Don't get a new hair cut just before the shoot (you may want to let it grow-in a bit or get used to styling a new cut)
  • Do not try/use any new product on your hair, face or body the day before or few days before your shoot. In case you have a bad reaction to the product

Please Arrive With

  • Hair styled and makeup already applied 

"Pinspiration" for Business Headshots

Added on by Loren O'Laughlin.

Here is a wide collection of nice-looking professional photos from around the internet. These are styles that read well as "highly educated, motivated, experienced, trustworthy." You can click on an image to expand it.

Full disclosure: these are not my photos, I Googled them.

  • For men: you'll see that the looks are mostly with a jacket, some with tie, some without, and all with neat, "not floppy" hair. Have them bring more than one jacket if they aren't certain about fit or style.
  • For ladies: the standard appears to be jacket and blouse and a simple (no more than two strands) necklace. Hair is generally down, but out of the face. If uncertain about blouse style, bring two options.


Also, I made some notes about each of these images from a "how would one describe these" perspective on the following pin board: