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How to prepare for your portraits session

Pick out your clothes early

I highly recommend working with your photographer to get suggestions on what to wear for your portraits. Some shoots have themes or specific lighting schemes in mind, and clothing can make a huge difference in elevating the images’ overall look. Once you know what you should wear, make sure to assemble your wardrobe a few days before your session. Get items laundered, ironed, and anything else needed so that you’re not rushing at the last minute.


Practice hair & makeup

If you’re getting your hair and makeup professionally done for your shoot, it’s worth doing a test run of both. Make sure both come out how you want; this way, you’re not worried about how your hair or face will look on the day of your photoshoot.


Gather your props

If you are utilizing props for your portraits, make sure to assemble them a few days before the shoot. You don’t want to be late for your session because you couldn’t find your baseball glove for your senior portraits. 


Eat, drink, and rest

Keep your body happy. This advice goes for life in general, but it’s essential for your portraits. Make sure to eat something, drink plenty of water, and get a good night’s sleep before your session. Your body will thank you! Photo sessions are a blast but can be exhausting, so you’ll want to feel comfortable and happy!


Get on the same page as your photographer

To have a successful photoshoot, it’s a great idea to share photo concepts with your photographer, so you are going for the same result.


Pre-plan locations

It’s a lovely idea that you’ll show up, and awesome things will happen. But photoshoots take planning (as we’re learning here). Simply put, location matters. It helps bring context to your portraits. Studio or on location? A park or the mountains?


Have a back-up plan

Weather is unpredictable, and rain can ruin a shoot. To prepare for your photo session, check the weather the night before. If it looks bleak, contact your photographer and plan what to do if it rains on your photoshoot.

What to wear for your portraits session

To help, i’ve built a quick guide for what to wear, so you can look and feel your best for your portraits. These tips are applicable to high school senior portraits, fashion portraits, headshots, family portraits, group portraits, creative portraits, sports portraits, and really any kind of photography you can think.

Suggestions for general portrait outfits


Solid colors are better

For portrait sessions, i recommend solid colors because they put more focus on you, the subject.


Avoid patterns, logos, graphics, and illustrations

They can be distracting. Also, cameras do weird things with tight patterns and produce a funky pixelation effect. Plus, you may hate that logo/company 20+ years after your session. Don’t ruin a good picture with a bad symbol.


Simple is better

A t-shirt with jeans, a dress, slacks, and a jacket; these are all very clean and easy outfits. The more complex your outfit, the more you’ll be fidgeting with it during the session to make sure it looks exactly right. Keep it simple so you can focus on having a good time during your session!

Be comfortable, dress like you would every day, and you’ll feel at ease. There’s a significant emphasis on being comfortable and relaxed when doing a photo session. There’s no need to buy something just for the photoshoot. You’ve got everything you need in your closet.


Remove lenses from your glasses

If you usually wear glasses, you should wear them for your portraits. The lenses of glasses make taking pictures tricky, though. Clear lenses will occasionally reflect light, which can be distracting and block your face. Transition lenses not only reflect light, but if it’s bright outside, then they’ll effectively act as sunglasses. If you can, i’d recommend removing the lenses and wearing contacts simultaneously for the best images.


Wear clothes that give you confidence

Select clothing that makes you feel unstoppable when you put it on. If you’ve got a pair of jeans, a shirt, or a dress that makes you feel like a rock star, try to make it part of your ensemble. Dressing confidently helps influence your mood during a portrait session. If you feel confident, it’ll show up in your images.


Dress comfortably

  • Dress for the weather

Don’t torture yourself! If it’s cold out, then wear a jacket and maybe even a sweater. If you’re miserable and uncomfortable, then your face will reflect that in the images. It’s hard to smile happily when your socks are soaking wet. At a minimum, bring the appropriate clothing and wear it when you’re not actively getting your picture taken. If it’s super hot out, try to shoot early in the morning or late afternoon/evening.

  • Match your surroundings

Unless you live for irony and juxtaposition, a tux and a ballgown do not fit well with a forest. And if it manages to snow, then don’t be afraid to layer it up with a jacket, vest, or sweater!

  • Match your activity

This goes along with the above tips – if we’re trekking to the top of a mountain, you may want to leave the heels or all-white kicks at home. At the same time, if we’re going to a farm or field, don’t be afraid to pull out the jeans and cowboy boots!


Longer sleeves are better

Long sleeves seem to work better for photos, in my opinion. Too much skin can be distracting from your face. And even if you have thin or toned arms, long sleeves tend to make all arms look better.


Avoid ripped jeans or clothing

Unless your personal style encompasses ripped jeans or you’re doing a model shoot where holey clothing is the look, try to avoid clothing with rips, tears, or holes. Depending on your pose, these can look unflattering.


Mind your underwear

Something to keep in mind is the color and fit of your undergarments. If you’re wearing a white shirt, ladies, don’t wear a hot pink bra underneath it. Double-check your outfits with your selected undergarments of choice to make sure nothing is visible. The safe option is to go with nude-toned garments. Guys, make sure your boxers don’t bunch up underneath your pants. It could look odd or suggestive.


Minimize jewelry

Jewelry can be a big distraction from you, the subject. I typically recommend not wearing any jewelry, but if you do, try to wear pieces that are small and minimalist.


Take stuff out of your pockets

Guys are the worst offenders here. Take your phone out of your pocket and put it into a separate bag. Phones create weird bulges in pants pockets and are not flattering at all. Keep the focus on your face!



What to wear for women’s portraits


Layers are great

Layers like jackets, scarves, vests, and sweaters are great additions to an outfit because they add texture and dimension. They’re subtle pieces that can add touches of your personality and style to your portraits


No spaghetti straps or strapless tops

Strapless or tube tops may look flattering in person, but they tend to make your shoulders look wide in photos. Keep this in mind depending on how you feel about your shoulders. Also, avoid wearing spaghetti strap tops because they make hiding bra straps impossible. Sleeveless works great but keep some material up there.


Avoid shorts

Same deal as sleeves. Something about exposed elbows and knees makes them tricky to pose well. This rule isn’t rigid, but something to consider.


Avoid pure black or white

These colors are excellent; i just suggest adding a bit of texture to them.


Bring hair ties or hair clips in case of wind

There are few things more annoying on a photoshoot than the wind blowing hair all over the place and ruining all the hard work your makeup artist put in. Hair clips, bobby pins, and a hair tie (as a last resort) will make pictures in the wind more manageable and keep you looking put together


If wearing a dress, have leggings handy

This isn’t necessary, but leggings can keep you comfortable in cold or windy weather while wearing a dress.


If wearing heels, bring a set of comfy shoes too

If you plan on wearing heels for your images, i suggest changing into them when you get on location. After 45 minutes of standing on your feet, you’ll be grateful for a pair of sneakers, especially if you’re walking between locations. Change back into your comfy shoes until it’s time to shoot again.





What to wear for men’s portraits


Plain, heavy cotton shirt or polo works great

I’m a big fan business casual for men’s portrait sessions. If you’re after a more relaxed look, a plain shirt or a polo will work great. Make sure your shirts are a heavier material to avoid wrinkling and seeing any skin underneath.


Jeans or casual trousers look best

Jeans are pretty universal and go with almost anything. They’re an excellent base for most outfits. They can look super casual or semi-formal. A casual trouser like beige jeans or even a pair of slacks is perfect if you want to dress up a bit.


Avoid white button-down shirts

White button-down shirts are a staple for most business settings, but they’re boring for portrait sessions. Button-down shirts are great to wear for portrait sessions, but go with something not white!


What to wear for family portraits & groups


Match formality of partners

For couples, families, and groups, try to dress up as much as the others. If one of you is in a suit, it’ll look weird if the other is in jeans and a t-shirt. I prefer a semi-formal or business-casual style at a minimum for group portraits.


Use a similar color palette

Try to have everyone in the group wear similar color tones, such as all neutrals or all-natural tones. This will make everyone in the group look cohesive and like they belong together. Try to be cohesive. And leave the matching white shirts and jeans at home, please.


What to wear for brand portraits


Dress for your clients

If you wear suits to your client consultations, then i would not recommend wearing a t-shirt for your brand session. It creates a mental disconnect with your audience, and as we all know, clients work with people they trust. There are moments when you’re not client-facing in your job, and you may want to look relaxed and casual, but try to keep it within reason. Make sure that the pictures people see on your social channels reflect who they see in person. What you wear on Instagram be what you wear for your portraits.


Colors should pair with your brand

That electric pink shirt should probably stay in the closet if your brand is primarily muted blues and soft off-whites. You can dress strategically to pop out from the background, but try to wear a color palette that sticks to your brand.



How to prepare clothing for your session


Test your outfits before the session

There’s no point wearing something if you can’t walk in it. Test out the clothes you want to wear for your portraits before the session. Stand, sit, kneel, and walk. Make sure you can do all of that. And check that nothing pops out (bra straps) or that you can see any undergarments.

Launder and iron your clothes

Nothing feels better than a clean and comfy shirt. Get rid of any wrinkles or minor stains and show up in clothes that look 100% mint.


Bring clothes on hangars

Keeping your clothes on hangers will minimize wrinkles and help you sort through the pieces when looking for the next outfit during your session. Plus, it keeps clothes off the ground.


Don’t wear session clothes while traveling

If you can help it, wear an outfit in the car you won’t be wearing for your portraits. It’ll cut down on wrinkles, or crumbs and spills from that last-minute Starbucks run.


Game plan your clothing changes

If you plan to wear multiple outfits for your portraits, work with your photographer to figure out where and when you’ll change your outfits. Especially if you’re shooting on location, bathrooms are not easy to come by. It really helps to know what coffee shops you’ll stop at for a tea break and to use their bathroom to swap clothes. You’ll keep your clean clothes off the ground, get a refresh, and remove any chance of flashing random passerby.

What to prepare for professional headshots ?

Success in headshot photography is 50% client preparation and 50% our photography. At your session, we will do everything humanly possible to make sure you love your headshot, but your preparation is critical to getting a great final photo. 

If you’re feeling unsure about how to prep for your photo shoot, here’s a list of some key ways to prepare for your session.


The Week Before:


Plan your day

While planning your day a week ahead of time can be difficult, make sure that you don’t have any appointments or other scheduling conflicts in the minutes leading up to your session. You want to be focused during your shoot.

If you’re getting your hair done, we highly recommend you don’t try to cut corners by getting it done the night before and sleeping on it. You should have a same-day appointment for hair and makeup.


Candidly evaluate your clothing options

The #1 (by a significant margin) reason people need to come back for more photos is that they brought the wrong clothing to the first session. Less than 1% of our sessions lead to a re-shoot, but in those cases it’s almost one of two reasons (the second is addressed below). But, the most common reason is that the client brought the wrong clothing to the session (example: client wearing glasses they realized they didn’t actually like, client wore a shirt or suit that doesn’t fit them any more, client wore clothing with loud and distracting patterns etc).

Also make sure that your clothing is not the exact same color as the background you’re shooting on. If your employer is sending you in for a session, check with them on the background that you’ll be using.




The day before

Get 8 hours of sleep

As much as possible, try to get some rest in the days leading up to your shoot. Our editing process will help with dark circles under eyes, but prioritizing sleep the night before your shoot is the most effective method for looking rested! 


Know thyself

Look back at past photos of yourself that you’ve liked. Were you wearing a specific color? Did you have a specific hairstyle? Was the photo taken from a specific angle? Do you have a favorite side? Make sure to plan appropriately and/or communicate your preferences to the photographer. We would LOVE to see a photo of you from the past that you liked – bring those photos on your phone to your session.

For outdoor shoots, if you have frizzy hair in certain conditions, make sure to account for that in your preparation.

If you get red eyes, dry lips, or acne when doing any activities like hiking, surfing, skiing, swimming in a pool (chlorine), or cooking with certain foods – then refrain from those activities before your shoot.


The morning of


Dress for the job you want

Stick with solid colored tops. They’re more flattering and less distracting. Jackets and collared shirts are highly recommended. Depending on your industry, you may be tempted to wear casual attire. But, based on our experience, we recommend you dress up for your professional photos.

Try to avoid any large pieces of jewelry or excessive makeup. Avoid logos or badges on either your shirt and your jacket – or you risk looking like an advertisement.

For guys, unless you have a strong preference, try not to wear an undershirt with your dress shirt. If you do, wear a white undershirt – not a black or grey undershirt.

In general, you want solid-color and high-contrast outfits. For example, white shirt and dark blue blazer, white shirt and black blazer, or light blue shirt and black blazer etc. 

Make sure your clothes are ironed and/or without wrinkles. If you have a lint roller, use it the night before. 

Do not wear glasses with “blue light reflectors” or “transition lenses”, those will ruin your photos. There’s not much we can do about that in the editing process either.


If you’re taking headshot to be put on your employer’s website, make SURE to check with them on the proper attire. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes customers will need to come and re-shoot because they wore a suit (when they should have been dressed casual) or were under-dressed. Every employer is different, and what you should wear depends on what they’d like to convey on the website – so make sure to ask.



If you have facial hair, either cleanly shave or maintain a trimmed beard. Anything in the middle looks sloppy. When in doubt, shave. However, do not shave immediately before your shoot – as razor bumps and discoloration will become more apparent.

5-minutes before:

Check your hair

A little water goes a long way. Make sure you don’t have hair sprouting in all directions. Our editing team can easily remove single strands of hair, but clumps of hair are much more difficult.


Check for shine

In a photo shoot, the flash on the studio lighting reflects off any sweaty or dry spots, making portions of your face look shiny.

If you have a dry face, do NOT apply lotion to your face within 4 hours before your shoot…If you need to, do this in the week before your shoot.

If you’re not wearing makeup, simply splash some cold water on your face and pat dry with a paper towel. If you’re wearing makeup, go with simple powders. Avoid glossy or shiny makeup – which is reflective when combined with studio flash.


You’re going to look great! Stress and anxiety will show up in photos, so get yourself in a good mood. Listen to your favorite song and do a little dance at your desk before your session.




What to wear for professional headshots ?


The Week Before:


Plan your day

While planning your day a week ahead of time can be difficult, make sure that you don’t have any appointments or other scheduling conflicts in the minutes leading up to your session. You want to be focused during your shoot.

If you’re getting your hair done, we highly recommend you don’t try to cut corners by getting it done the night before and sleeping on it. You should have a same-day appointment for hair and makeup.


Candidly evaluate your clothing options

The #1 (by a significant margin) reason people need to come back for more photos is that they brought the wrong clothing to the first session. Less than 1% of our sessions lead to a re-shoot, but in those cases it’s almost one of two reasons (the second is addressed below). But, the most common reason is that the client brought the wrong clothing to the session (example: client wearing glasses they realized they didn’t actually like, client wore a shirt or suit that doesn’t fit them any more, client wore clothing with loud and distracting patterns etc).

Also make sure that your clothing is not the exact same color as the background you’re shooting on. If your employer is sending you in for a session, check with them on the background that you’ll be using.


Style tips for professional headshots


Dress like your boss

What’s considered appropriate dress in the workplace varies widely by industry. Lawyers and doctors, for instance, are generally expected to dress in a more formal and conservative way, whereas those working in technical or creative roles may look out of place if they come to work in a suit and tie.

When in doubt, look to your boss or another industry leader you respect. The way your superiors dress is usually a good indicator of what’s appropriate for your industry, and will help you convey confidence without appearing as if you’re trying too hard. 


Avoid overly-casual clothing

Even if you work in an industry where informal dress is the norm, consider donning more formal threads for your headshots if you want to appear more confident and authoritative. Research suggests that simply wearing more formal clothing can contribute to a feeling of power and control, which can impact your posture and presence in photos. 

The way you feel behind the camera will impact how you appear in your photos, so consider formal clothing options that make you feel good about yourself. If you need an extra boost of confidence, stick with formal options like suits, ties and formal blouses. 


Feature multiple outfits

Consider the different people you interact with during the working day, and what clothing is most appropriate in each of those settings. Do you tend to wear the same types of outfits regardless of who you’re interacting with, or do you tailor your clothing choices to your audience?

If you regularly interact with different types of people throughout your day — which is often the case for entrepreneurs, consultants and salespeople — make sure you have a headshot that fits each of your audiences. Instead of trying to split the difference with an outfit that doesn’t fit any scenario well, book a standard studio session or platinum combo session, which allows for multiple outfits and backdrops.


Opt for suit-inspired silhouettes

For better or worse, clothing traditionally perceived as more masculine — including trousers, blazers and suit jackets in darker hues — can have a significant impact on perceptions of intelligence and ability, especially when it comes to people in management and leadership positions. 

according to a study that examined the connection between clothing style and hiring recommendations, blazers and trousers contributed to applicants being perceived as more forceful and influential than those wearing other types of clothing. Suits and trousers in darker colors also contributed to more favorite hiring recommendations for leadership and management positions. 


Avoid older, worn-out clothing

Everyone has one favorite piece of clothing that they’ll wear again and again — but over time, even the nicest blouses and shirts will begin to show signs of wear. This is especially true of brightly-colored clothing or knitted fabrics, which could fade or show signs of pilling of each time it’s washed. To ensure your clothes make you look tailored and put together, opt for newer clothing or “dry clean only” items that won’t show these tell-tale signs of wear. 


Stick with simple jewelry

The best professional headshots enhance your natural features without distracting from them. For this reason, simple jewelry is a better choice for professional headshots – especially if your headshot will be cropped closely to your face (as most are). 

So long as you have the right hair and makeup for your headshot session, jewelry should just be a “finishing touch.” For necklaces, make sure the pendant is visible above the crop of the photo. For earrings, stick with simple metallic or gemstone studs, and wear dangling earrings with caution. Hoop earrings and anything that dangles tends to be caught in hair and gets lost in the photo. 


Ditch the undershirt and “floppy collar”

In a professional headshot, the area directly under your face is critically important. These photos are cropped closely for linkedin profile photos and other placements. So think about your undershirt and collar first.

First, unless you’re going for a casual look, with an un-buttoned oxford shirt, avoid wearing an undershirt in your headshot.


While many men wear an undershirt to avoid building up sweat during the day, a white, black, or grey undershirt will be distracting in a formal professional headshot. Why make people think about your sweat?

Second, especially if you’re not wearing a tie, make sure your collar is stiff. A “floppy collar” can make a headshot look sloppy, even if you’re dressed perfectly otherwise.



What colors to wear for headshots 


Consider color theory

Color theory refers to the science of how certain colors influence our moods, thoughts and behaviors – and how certain wardrobe hues can influence what others believe about us. For instance, red conveys confidence and energy, whereas navy blue and black elicits a sense of dominance and authority. Think about what message you want to convey in your professional headshots and select colors accordingly.

Dark colors are perceived as more formal, dominant and authoritative

Light colors make the wearer appear more friendly and approachable

Some bright colors convey confidence and energy

Muted colors are conservative and less threatening

High-contrast pairings like a dark jacket and light shirt can create a powerful image that conveys influence and authority


Stick with solid colors

Regardless of your portrait style and setting, simple colors and subtle patterns usually look best on everyone. Bold or busy patterns tend to distract from your face and can lead to moire, an unpleasant visual side effect of repeating patterns. 


Contrast with your backdrop

When choosing colors for your professional headshots, consider your portrait backdrop. Unless you’re getting a company-branded headshot, choose wardrobe colors that contrast with your background so you stand out. This is especially true if you plan to have black and white headshots – a dark top against a dark background could make you look like a floating head!


Contrast with your skin tone

As a general rule, professional portraits look best when your skin tone, your clothing and your backdrop all contrast. When choosing what colors to wear, make sure the color is significantly darker or lighter than your skin tone so you don’t look nude from afar. If possible to create a great monochromatic headshot as well, but make sure you let your photographer know beforehand so we can advise you on your best options.


Avoid outfit combinations that are typical for other professions

The most common mistakes are 1) dressing like a doctor or 2) dressing like a waiter.

To avoid looking like a doctor, if you’re going for a headshot, don’t wear a white blazer. It’s very likely to look like a medical coat in the final cropped headshot. (particularly if you’re shooting with a studio backdrop)

To avoid looking like a waiter, don’t wear a white button down shirt, with a black tie, and a black suit.


Opt for tighter clothing

More closely-fitted clothing tends to look cleaner and less distracting than loose or baggy clothing, especially for formal or business-casual photos. If you plan to wear a blazer or suit jacket, make sure it fits closely around the shoulders and arms – even if that means it’s slightly too tight. If you’re concerned about your waistline, don’t worry – most headshots are taken with jackets and blazers unbuttoned, as the creases along your ribs tend to show at the bottom border of the photo.

The same goes for collared shirts and blouses. If you plan to wear a collared shirt buttoned to the top, make sure it fits snugly around your neck. Loosely-fitted collars leave distracting gaps that draw attention away from your features. 


The right wardrobe, the right photographer

What you wear for your professional headshot session has a big influence on what those photos will say about you – but nothing matters as much as the quality of your photographer.



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