Monday, 09 October 2017
The Dressing Well Blog
Mary Lou Andre

Picture Perfect: Getting a Headshot You’ll Be Proud to Post

By Mary Lou Andre

A professional portrait—referred to in the business world as a "headshot"—serves a multitude of purposes. It instantly conveys what you and your company are all about and can help you acquire (and keep!) target customers, all while supporting a strong online and offline presence.

Consider these guidelines to help you prepare for any professional photography session:

#1 Set Yourself Up to Succeed

  • Enlist a Portrait Professional. Your visual image is a major part of your professional brand. Hire a professional photographer who can help create your desired look. Review photographers’ websites for styles and images that resonate with you.
  • Invest for Good Results. Photos for business purposes should last up to five years, so treat them as investments. Hair stylists, make-up artists and wardrobe consultants can help you achieve excellent results.
  • Backgrounds Matter. Ask beforehand about the color of the background and prepare your wardrobe accordingly. Outdoor shots can create a natural backdrop suitable for some industries. Work with your photographer ahead of time to decide on the best location for your needs.

#2 Choose Your Outfit and Accessories

  • Jackets Still Work. Although no longer the only choice given today’s more relaxed dress standards, a jacket with a dress shirt with or without out a tie for men and with a variety of professional tops for women, can help you project authority while “framing” you well. Although softer in their overall presentation than jackets, professional sweaters also offer a layer of structured flair. A more casual outfit can work well for some industries. Be aware that a non-jacket look is often harder to pull off in a professional photograph.
  • Eliminate Distractions. Too much of a strong pattern can make the photo appear cluttered. Smaller patterns used as an accent with solid colored clothing are typically best. Blues, grays, browns and pastels photograph well, even in black and white photography. We love primary colors such as red, fuchsia and cobalt blue as well. Bulky fabrics can add pounds. Counteract this risk by wearing trimly cut clothing. To keep you cooler and more comfortable during the photo shoot, choose natural fabrics. 
  • Keep Accessories to a Minimum. Women: well-placed jewelry can create visual interest around your face, a key factor to drawing people into a photo. Be aware that jewelry that is too big can overpower your photo. Classic pearls, modest hoops or simple drop earrings that match your style persona are often all that is needed to finish your look. A well-placed necklace and/or pin can also enhance your image in all the right ways. While scarves can work, be aware that they can clutter your neckline if not properly styled. Men: pocket squares, professional watches and cuff links can all be used effectively in a professional headshot depending on the image you are looking to project. Be sure to let your photographer know you’d like to showcase these elements of your attire so that your photo is composed correctly.

#3 Properly Prepare Yourself

  • Be Well-Rested. Get plenty of sleep the night before and avoid alcohol, which can make your face look puffy.
  • Abide By the Watermelon Trick. Eat this magical melon for a few days before your photography session to decrease water retention and eliminate puffiness. Hollywood celebs swear by this rule and it really does work!
  • A Word on Glasses. If you wear glasses but prefer not to be photographed in them, avoid wearing them a day ahead of time to prevent any marks they may leave on your face.

Last Word
Looking to get a new headshot? The talented stylists at Dressing Well can help. Use our contact form for more information. We welcome the opportunity to help you get the perfect shot!

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About the Author

Mary Lou Andre

Mary Lou Andre is a nationally recognized wardrobe, dress code and corporate image consultant, speaker and author. She is founder and president of Organization By Design, Inc., a Needham, Massachusetts-based wardrobe management, fashion and image consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations understand the power of being appropriately dressed in a variety of situations.

Learn more about Mary Lou » 

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Alexandra Taussig 2017-10-10 10:40

I love this article. I "invested" -- hair, clothes-- in my headshot after having one I didn't love and it has served me well.

However, with the corporate world getting more relaxed, I am thinking of updating my headshot to be less formal and stiff. Thanks for the ideas, and I love thinking of my headshot as an "investment".

ML Andre 2017-10-10 11:28

You are such a great student! I love your current headshot and agree getting a second one that is a bit less corporate would serve your evolving role at your company well. I find many of our clients often need a few options these days to help them market and connect to varied audiences/situations.

When we meet next month, let's discuss getting another headshot for you. I know how goal driven you are -- let's set this for an early 2018 "to do"!! Thanks for weighing in. I believe many of our readers will find your POV interesting and of value.

Janet Jordan 2017-10-20 13:34

I'm probably overdue for an updated headshot and intend to eat watermelon beforehand. That tip is certainly a new one on me!


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