What to Wear for a Professional Headshot Photo Session

Ladies, it’s time to update your headshot and you are wondering what to wear. Here are some tips to make the most of this opportunity.


First, the most important thing to remember is that your face should be the focal point of the photo. Everything else, clothing, lighting, background, should be managed as to not upstage you. It’s all about you!


As a general rule, you should not wear anything that would be too distracting.  The eye tends to first focus on the lightest thing in the image, thus whites should only be worn around the face, such as a blouse.  White also tends to reflect light, and might make us ladies look a little heavier. Patterns and textures can also be distracting. Clothing with a shimmer will reflect light and don’t photograph well. Stay away from any shinny type of fabric.

Be sure to wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident.  Pick colors that complement your complexion and enhances your coloring. As a general rule, you should try to pick a color that complements your eye color and it contrasts your skin color. For instance, if you are very fare, you should stay away from very light colors. Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones, such as cream, beige, pastels, peach or yellow, as they will blend your face into your clothes. If you have more of an olive complexion, you should stay away from some dark olive greens and some light tans. Redheads should definitely avoid some reds and pinks.

While black and white are safe colors, they can be very difficult to photograph. Black might make you blend with the background, if taking a studio shot, but works well in outdoor or location settings. White is very reflective and might add a few pounds to your look. The best choice is jewel colors.

Avoid horizontal stripes as they might make you look heavier. Subtle vertical stripes have the opposite effect, making you look slimmer.

Necklines & Sleeves

I believe that a modest v-neck line is very flattering to everyone. It creates a visual triangle that leads the eye towards your face. It also tightens the torso. 

For professional headshots, I also feel that long sleeves work best. Having a uniform color covering your arms will make your arms look slimmer, and it just looks more professional.


Go for understated elegance. The jewelry should be here just to adorn your face and not be noticed. Remember that jewelry can also date your photo. You’ll get much longer use of your photos if you select something classic. Pearl studs are always appropriate as they are timeless and not reflective on a photo.  Simple and small gold or silver hoops work well as well. Avoid wearing bracelets as they are a needless distraction from your photo.


You are having your photo taken, so of course women will wear makeup. Be sure to take some supplies to do some touch ups before your session.  Stay away from gloss, as it’s too reflective for the camera. Try to pick a flat lipstick color from the darker side of your color repertoire. The idea is to create contract with your skin tone. Also avoid shimmery eye shadow.

Right before you have your photo taken, take a look in the mirror and make sure everything is in place.  What I notice the most is that people might accidentally rub the make up off around their nose while blowing their nose. Check around your nostrils in particular. While there, make sure you don’t have any hairs peeking out.

Before the shoot, apply a layer of translucent powder. This will make your skin appear flawless in photo. It reduces any shine, makes pores seem smaller, and it covers any black heads and sunspots. Most importantly it makes your skin looks even, and blush goes on top much smoother. Even if you don’t regularly use powder, consider wearing some for your photo shoot.  Inexpensive powder does the job just as well as the expensive brands. I find mine at Walgreens or Target. Be sure to pick a color that is closest to your natural skin color. Look to the back of your wrist to match to your natural skin color. However, be sure to try it on a few days before the shoot to make you don’t have an allergic reaction to it.

Another useful tip is to apply make up and powder to you lips at the same time you are applying make up, and then apply a lip liner and lipstick on top. This prevents the lipstick the color from bleeding into any fine lip lines.

Eyeliner, applied very subtlety, can make your stand out. However, don’t over do it as it might make your eyes look harsh. Use eyeliner from the outer corner of your eye to about one third or two thirds in. Never eye line the lower lid from tip to tip. A brown or charcoal color looks much more natural than black.

Preparing Ahead of Time

If you have a few days to prepare for your headshot, there are a few things you can do ahead of time to help you look even better.

Three to five days before your shoot, take care of your lips by putting Vaseline before going to bed You have no idea how much time I have spent fixing chopped lips on Photoshop. While Photoshop can do amazing things, there is simply no substitute for getting it right from the beginning and not having to artificially fix something.

They day before the shoot, as well as the day of the photo shoot, drink plenty of water. Being well hydrated does wonders for your skin. It makes your skin look softer and the white in your eyes more reflective. It also prevents dark circles under your eyes. For the same reason, to avoid dark circles under your eyes, be sure to get a good night’s rest the night before. 

Don’t try any new soap or make-up products a few days before your shoot to avoid any allergic reactions.  If you need to wax, do it three to five days before your shoot to avoid showing any skin irritation. Prepare a little bag with a few essentials to bring with you, a comb or brush, make up for touch ups, and water to keep you hydrated.

Most importantly, relax and have fun. This is your chance to shine! Follow these few simple tips and you’ll be ready for your shoot.  

Let’s do this!

Source: www.MacarenaPhoto.com