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Headshot Session Prep Guide

How to Prepare for Headshots

Before the Shoot

Men, I suggest getting a haircut 4 days to a week prior to the shoot. This allows for your hair to grow in slightly after the cut, creating a well-groomed and natural-looking appearance. If you are growing out facial hair for the shoot, please make sure it is groomed unless you are going for a less clean-cut look. Additionally, you can shave mid-shoot if you would like shots with facial hair and without facial hair. Photo magic!

Women, getting your hair cut more pertains to any split ends/damage at the ends of your hair, or creating some layers in your hair. If you think you will benefit from getting a quick trim or overall cleanup of your hairstyle, go for it. If you have shorter hair, a full cut a week ahead of the shoot may be beneficial for you.

The Night Before

  • Do not consume alcohol
  • Get a good night's rest; it makes a huge difference in your photos!
  • Drink lots of water to hydrate your skin and avoid chapped lips


  • Please make sure the clothes are wrinkle-free and clean. *****do not ball up your clothes and put them in a bag, please! Please fold them or put them on hangers and lay them out in your car so they look their very best*****
  • No logos - but I can photoshop out a small logo if necessary

Avoid clothing that is transparent in any way - that's really hard to correct in Photoshop and often times is impossible to fix


In the industry, we're seeing a shift towards a more branded look, allowing for some patterns to be incorporated (avoid fine patterns, as they generally don't photograph well).


  • Clothes should fit well and hug the body - they should not be baggy. Clothes that fit tighter are better for headshots because they show off your form and offer clean lines. That being said, they should not look like they are way too small. They should fit you well.
  • Solids are always a safe bet. Pastels and earth tones are great pallets to work with. Avoid red or black as a primary color unless you are looking to make a statement with those. They generally don't read well unless you're truly giving a look.
  • White can be a versatile color choice depending on the look you're going for. For example, a white button-down shirt with a black tie can make for some really sharp black and white branding photos. A tight, bright white t-shirt can be a great look.
  • Tank tops work well if you are a dancer or if you want to highlight your shoulders/arms.
  • T-shirts are great as are long-sleeve shirts. Button downs work well. Avoid anything puffy. Turtlenecks can sometimes look amazing but it depends on the person and the look you are going for.
  • My personal opinion is to avoid cold shoulder/open shoulder tops.
  • Bringing a variety of shirts is always great. Examples: One solid color tank top, one solid long-sleeved shirt or blouse, one solid polo shirt, a couple solid button downs, etc.
  • Layers are great - black or tan leather jackets photograph really well if you're going for that kind of look. Denim jackets are also a great, lighter option. Sweatshirts can look great if you want to go for a younger look but they aren't a go-to option for me.
  • Feel free to bring options for pants and shoes for 3/4 shots or full-body shots. We can squeeze those in if we have time or plan for it. (Express sessions are the exception, which are headshots only)

tl;dr: Clothes should fit well and be brought in on hangers or nicely folded. Avoid fine prints but experiment with colors and layers, including leather and denim jackets. You can bring in options for pants and shoes if you want. Cuts that expose your shoulders generally don't read well, except for tank tops which are great if you are a dancer or want to highlight your shoulders and arms.


  • Hoop earrings are acceptable, as are stud earrings.
  • I would steer clear from necklaces are best avoided, feel free to bring options for pants and shoes for different shot styles.
  • Hats can sometimes be a bold choice- if you want, bring a few options. Baseball caps are generally a no-go. I would say hats only work about 10% of the time.


  • ***Bring your hair and makeup products with you to your session. You will want to touch up at some point and will need them!
  • Makeup should be LIGHT. Trust me, you do not want to come in with heavy makeup on. I can enhance your makeup in retouching but I can't take any makeup off. When in doubt, less is more.
  • Be careful you don't darken your brows too much, use a ton of eyeliner, etc. Less is more.
  • Avoid contour - it doesn't read well in headshots. I can add some of that in Photoshop (it's called called "dodging and burning" ) if your headshot needs it to bring out your bone structure.
  • Avoid products with titanium dioxide and anything shimmery. You want your skin to look matte and moisturized without any shimmer.
  • Do make sure that your makeup matches your skin tone well. There is a lot I can do in retouching to correct skin tone (and I do) but you really want your makeup to be the right shade and tint for you.
  • Regarding lipstick, I tend to gravitate towards headshots without heavy lipstick. Chapstick, tinted chapstick, or a tinted lip balm is usually enough. You can add some lipstick if you want to go for a bolder look. If this is the case, I recommend doing it at the end of your session.
  • Guys, you can bring some matte powder to keep shine down if you want. Other than that, I wouldn't worry about makeup. You can use some foundation or concealer to cover blemishes but I will retouch them out anyway so I don't think that is necessary in this context. The same goes for lightening under your eyes - I will do that in retouching for you (it will look natural) so you don't need to apply any foundation or concealer if you notice some color under your eyes that day.
  • Your hair should be something you could wear to an audition or on a date. That is, it should be an elevated version of how you would wear it - particularly speaking to those with medium or long hair - but it doesn't need to be overly styled. Do keep in mind that any curls or waves in your hair will relax a little by the end of the session due to changing your shirt multiple times. I keep that in mind when we make our game plan at the end of your session. Because they relax a bit, you might give your hair a little bit of an extra curl or wave above what you would wear into an audition or a night on the town, but don't feel the need to do anything drastic.
  • If you didn't initially add a hair and makeup artist to your shoot and you would like to do so after booking, please contact me at least 5 days before the shoot to let me know. I promise you that having a hair and makeup artist at your shoot makes an incredible difference and is worth every penny.

tl;dr: Bring makeup and hair products to your session. Less is more with makeup; keep it light. Avoid heavy lipstick and contour. Use matte products without shimmer. Makeup should match your skin tone well. Matte powder is great for guys but other products aren't necessary. For hair, aim for an elevated version of your usual style if you have medium or long hair. Short hair can generally be worn as you would wear it daily or at an audition, just make sure it is styled. Curls or waves will relax during the session, so a little extra curl or wave is helpful but don't go overboard.

Feel free to get creative! I encourage you to bring at least 4 or 5 options, and you get brownie points if you bring more than 10 tops.


  • Avoid red as a primary color.
  • Clothes should fit well. They should not be baggy or overly-tight.
  • Suit jackets and blouses are perfectly acceptable, as are button down shirts. It is really dependent on what kind of image you are trying to project. Take a look at what others from your company are wearing to get a sense of what you should bring to the shoot. If you are an entrepreneur, think about what style of dress most aligns with your brand and how you wish to be perceived.
  • Bringing a variety of shirts/tops is beneficial to give us options during the shoot. I will be able to advise you on what looks best for you.
  • We can photograph options with and without a jacket over your top. We can also photograph variations with different ties.


  • Makeup should be a light to medium amount (enough to show on camera but nothing over the top) - when in doubt, go with less makeup. I can't remove any makeup in Photoshop but I can always add more. Regular lipstick is totally fine - I tend to lean towards neutrals but if you prefer a dark lip or a saturated red you love and it works for your profession, bring that as well to try towards the end.
  • No highlight/contouring - it does not read well in headshots at all. Trust me on this one! Your cheek bones will look great from the lighting, I promise!
  • Wear only a little mascara and very light eyeliner. This, as well as over-darked eyebrows, can be the downfall of a headshot.
  • No colored eyeshadow,
  • Please make sure your makeup matches your skin tone and isn't too light or the wrong tint. Also make sure it blends well around your jawline and neck
  • Avoid any sort of sparkly/shimmering makeup like the plague!
  • Bring your makeup and hair products with you to touch-up if needed
  • Wear your hair as you would to an important interview. It should look put together but not overdone. Most of all, it should look like you would actually wear it - no need to go over the top. Watch out for strays and frizz, although stray hairs will be taken out in retouching.
  • Guys, makeup isn't necessary (a little matte powder is fine)
  • Some people choose to wear earrings and a subtle necklace. Some people choose to wear pearls. Both are great options.
  • If you didn't initially add a hair and makeup artist to your shoot and you would like to do so after booking, please contact me at least 5 days before the shoot to let me know. I promise you that having a hair and makeup artist at your shoot makes an incredible difference and is worth every penny.

The general idea is to look natural but styled for the camera. That's why we generally stick to neutrals, earth tones, and pastels for colors unless we want something bright to make a statement. It's why we don't over-define the eyes or go in with contour. The makeup is supposed to enhance your look without looking overdone or unnatural.

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