What To Wear, How To Dress for Female Professional Headshots, Outfits, Clothing, Women’s Wardrobe Styling Tips, Hair, Earrings, Accessories, Colors, Makeup Examples
Depending on the industry you are in, headshot options are limitless, especially if you decide to capture your headshot outside a studio i.e. public space, office space, outdoors etc.
Over the years, there has been a shift from more formal looks to more business casual, fashionable looks that capture individuality and approachability. There are a number of factors that can affect what you should wear for your headshot so here are some tips to get the most out of your photos.
For men’s headshot tips, read this: https://eddie-hernandez.com/mens-headshot-wardrobe-tips/
If the photos you are preparing for will be displayed on LinkedIn, check out this piece on headshot tips specifically for this outlet including sizing, cropping, dimensions and more: https://eddie-hernandez.com/linkedin-headshots/
What To Wear: Tops, Shirts, Blouses, Sweaters and Blazers
Most versatile looks can be captured by wearing blouses, collared shirts, light sweaters and blazers. Blazers are great if you have a white top that you love but want to add some color and dimension. Blouses are great as they can be worn as is or styled with a bandana, neck-tie or small scarf.
Black blazers are a safe bet but the blouse color should have some pop or contrast so it does not lack vibrancy in the photo. Complementing your blazer i.e. dark blue with light blue blouse is a great way to add a more casual feel to an otherwise more stiff traditional look of a white blouse, dark blazer look you see so often.
Professional Headshot Examples: https://eddie-hernandez.com/professional-headshots/
Location: Environment, Background
When coordinating a headshot, I like to get a sense of preferred locations and backgrounds the customer has in mind. These days, more and more people are opting out of traditional two-dimensional studio headshots and moving to more environmental headshots that allow for more creativity.
Unless you are in rigid industry like investment banking or academia, the options you have for your headshots are vast.
Avoid colors that clash or exactly match our background and environment. For example, if shooting against a brick wall, avoid brown, dark reds and clay colored attire. Additionally, understand lighting patterns.
Some environments are too dark or too bright depending on the time of day so anything you can do to assist your photographer out with examples you are considering for your office, residence or other familiar site is helpful.
Wardrobe Colors, Clothing Fabrics, Patterns For Headshots
The general rule of thumb is to avoid colors that clash with skin tone and backgrounds. You don’t want colors either similar to your skin tone nor similar to your background.
Avoid loud colors (i.e. neon, those with a lot of shine, reflective colors) unless you are in a creative field outside more conservative business fields. Fabrics like satin and silk can provide harsh shine that will distract the image.
Most headshot advice articles out there cater to more conservative fields so take everything with a grain of salt and seek out photographers that specialize in more creative headshots. I am a big fan of black, jewel tones and white if layered with a blazer or small scarf (more like a tied bandana). Avoid loud patterns when possible. Single tone tops, or simple/subtle patterns work well to.
When it comes to lighter tops, be sure to check out your top in bright lights i.e. bathroom to see if your bra is too visible. This is true with particular fabrics that are more see through and lighter colors.
Makeup, Lipstick, Jewelry, Earrings Tips For Headshots
When preparing for your headshot, I prefer more natural makeup and lipstick saturation and colors vs applying more (it’s easier to apply or add more if needed than reduce it at the time of a photoshoot).
Foundation and mascara colors should match that of your skin and darker red lipstick is generally preferred over bright reds. Again, depending on your industry (creative fields, agencies, beauty industries etc), you might have more flexibility to be more bold, bright etc.
The general look is that you should apply what you would wear to work or a work-related function. This is especially true if you are taking headshots during the workday – you don’t want to raise suspicion if you happen to be on the job hunt.
Make sure you plan for/around your headshot i.e. schedule your headshot earlier in the day to minimize having to adjust/re-apply makeup and/or allow time to change clothing if you do not want to look like you came back from an interview.
As for earrings, studs and smaller earrings are recommended. Larger earrings can seem a bit clunky or get in the way of hair unless you sell earrings or work in a similar field where jewelry is part of your brand, smaller is better. Generally necklaces should not be thick and heavy (think Mr. T) unless you have a specific niche business that requires it. Necklaces are not suggested for acting portraits and comp cards.
Sunscreen can provide a rather glistening shine on your face which is not recommended. If you require sunscreen then plan your photos around time of day or overcast days to minimize exposure to the sun.
Hairstyle Tips For A Woman
The longer the hair the harder it is to capture a good headshot. The more maintenance is required and the harder it is to position the hair since it can be weighed down significantly depending on the exact length.
Buns and ponytails are generally not recommended as some detail is lost because of the positioning of the hair but I personally like buns and ponytails as it can add some variety to generic headshots.
I typically will shoot hair down and parted (one half in front of one shoulder and the other half behind the other shoulder) and save the ponytail and bun photos last. Frizzy hair is one of the more challenging styles to capture as split ends, flying hairs can be challenging for even the most advanced photo editors out there.
Consider not only your skin tone but hair color when deciding which color tops to use for your headshot. Most people consider former and not the latter. When planning headshots around haircuts, usually wait a few days after to coordinate your photos.
Most haircuts need a few days to settle and it helps that you are comfortable and confident in your new look. (Too many men and women who get haircuts the day before or day of don’t always like their new look).
Glasses and Contact Lenses Tips For Headshots
If you wear glasses great, bring them. Make sure they are clean, free of dirt and scratches and are not damaged, crooked. Bring some microfiber cloth and some cleaning solution if possible as glasses can get dirty in a matter of hours if not minutes with fingerprints.
You want your glasses pressed up against your face and not slide down too far down your nose. Let your photographer know ahead of time, so they can prepare or at least let you know if they are unable to remove glare in your photos.
Necklines, Shoulders For Headshots
When it comes to necklines, it is important to consider the crop of the photo. Most headshots are cropped a few inches below the shoulder and above the chest so a low neckline, deep v-neck may not be the best option.
As for shoulders, most people opt for a covered shoulder look or thick straps rather than thinner straps. Depending on your company or industry, you should see if there is preferred look among those in roles you are aiming for. Crew, collared, jewel and peter pan collars are the most popular collar and necklines in photos. The split neck tops are also a great option.
Scarves For Headshots
Scarves can provide a great pop in your photos especially if you are limited to a white blouse in your attire. A small tied bandana, neck scarf, neckerchief, bow collar, tie-neck blouse is a great way to add a splash of color and dimension to a photo. Practice tying the scarf and see how it looks straight on and with your body angled 30 degrees away from the camera.
Clean, Pressed Suits & Outfits
Always make sure you outfit is clean, pressed for photos. If you schedule a photoshoot after work be careful not to spill anything on yourself or get wrinkled shirts. If you decide to change into your outfit, be sure it doesn’t get wrinkled in your bag or purse.
Footwear: Shoes, Heels
Now for most headshots, photos will be cropped at the waist or below the neckline so footwear is not visible. With that said, many women prefer to wear heels as it can help them feel more comfortable, confident as well as help with dispersing weight from foot to foot vs remaining flat-footed.
The other consideration for heels is that they provide an advantage for elevating heels and and distributing weight to the balls of the feet which is a preferred and more flattering look from an angle perspective. You don’t want to lean back for headshots (want to avoid the neck and under the chin areas).
When in doubt contact your photographer ahead of time for suggestions. Everyone is unique and different colors, styles will be recommended on a case by case basis. Most clients send me a test shot ahead of time to get my opinion before the shoot as it is harder to change/plan for outfit changes and adjustments on the spot.
Bad Headshot Examples
Contact me today to schedule your own custom headshot.
About Eddie Hernandez
San Francisco Photographer: Professional Headshots, People Portraits, LinkedIn Photos, Corporate + Business Headshots, Company Culture + People Photography for non-profits, startups, small business owners, professional firms and local organizations.
Specialties include: casual employee headshots, work style corporate headshots, LinkedIn headshots, business headshots, executive portraits, professional headshots, office headshots, creative branding portraits, modern company culture and environmental office head shots. I primarily shoot outdoors, public spaces and client sites (on location, before work, after work, lunch breaks) and specialize in location scouting and creative direction. Assistance with wardrobe and styling is available.
My ability to put people at ease, guide poses, provide unique backgrounds and create a fun photoshoot filled is what separates me from others. If you hate taking photos or are camera shy, you have come to the right person for your pictures.
Whether you are a medical / healthcare professional, marketing consultant, accountant, writer, investor, attorney, engineer, scientist, psychologist, designer, executive, founder or work in finance, residency, healthcare, startups, banking, technology, education, therapy, government, non-profits or own your business, I can work with you to create a unique, personable, creative, professional headshot look to suit your needs whether for a website, press, LinkedIn, social media or company website.
Serving the greater SF Bay Area including Sausalito, Mill Valley, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin County, Petaluma, Sonoma, Napa, Palo Alto, San Jose, Stanford, Silicon Valley, Fremont, Hayward, Concord, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Larkspur, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Menlo Park. Will travel to Los Angeles, New York City, Montreal, Mexico City, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia, Chicago, internationally and client sites.
Contact me today for your professional headshot session: https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
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