It is self evident that how we present ourselves affects people’s perception of us. So in the context of our corporate headshots, good presentation – or maybe even more pertinently, appropriate presentation – is worth some effort.
Perception is not the same for everyone; it happens through our metaphorical lens. I want to help you define the lens through which you assess your professional appearance:
Your occupation is your lens.
Does your role require you to appear powerful and authoritative? Approachable and nurturing? Knowledgeable and diligent?
There is a typified look for most professions and it is generally ill-advised to completely abandon that.
That said, there is always room for personal style. Within the expectations of your professional appearance, there is always room for personalisation. It doesn’t need to be a green mohawk (though it could be) but maybe you have a penchant for statement ties or brooches. Perhaps your hair is always wild or you love a bold blazer. Simply being well presented might be your look. I won’t pass judgement on what look is “right”, but I encourage you to consider what is right for you.
So let’s explore!
How can you help your corporate headshots look like the best version of your professional self?
- Dress to match your title.
Look to your peers and other industry leaders if you’re wondering what style is traditional for your profession. Decide whether your headshot should adhere to this tradition or whether it should step outside the box.
Whilst I can’t tell you how closely you should follow the trend of your peers, I can suggest that if your headshot doesn’t imply professionalism then your reputation had better!
- Take it up a notch.
Cast aside your regular Tuesday outfit and dress for the most important meeting you’ve ever hosted. If your Tuesday outfit is the best one you own then it might even be time to treat yourself to a shopping trip.
Clothes can change the way we see ourselves. The camera sees confidence, and if you’re wearing clothes that make you look great then you’ll feel great.
The shade and hue of your outfit is a powerful communicator of your personality and authority. Colours can have an affect on our mood and behaviours. Carefully choosing the colours in our wardrobe can help shape what others believe about us.
–Dark colours (black, navy) are powerful, mysterious and dominant.
–White is trustworthy and honest.
–Light colours are unthreatening, approachable and peaceful.
–Red is passionate, confident and assertive
–Blue and Green are calming and reassuring
- Avoid Stripes and Patterns
Where possible, stick to block colours. Remember the subject of this shoot is you. Intricate patterns and stripes can be distracting and, worst case scenario, can cause moire which is an annoying visual effect you don’t want in your headshot.
- Create Contrast
The most effective portraits make clever use of contrast. Some of this contrast is achieved with lighting, but given the close-up nature of this kind of shoot, most contrast will come from wardrobe.
Contrast is best thought of in black and white terms – light and dark.
Contrast in your outfit can be as simple as a dark jacket over a light shirt.
To take that a level deeper, contrast with your complexion might mean that if you have dark skin then a lighter jacket might be a better choice.
Contrast with the backdrop is also important. If your headshots are going to be on a white backdrop then avoid wearing white on the outer layer (white shirt under non-white jacket is fine). The opposite would be true, obviously, for a black background.
- Keep it fitted
Big, loose jackets, baggy clothes and bulky scarves might be extremely warm and comfortable, but they create an unflattering silhouette. Ensure your ensemble fits well and provides you with a flattering shape.
- Jewellery and Accessories
Unless it is part of your personal brand, more is not more in the accessorising of your portrait shoot. Keep your jewellery simple and elegant. Remember that the attention of the viewer should be on you, not your accessories. Anything that draws the eye and distracts from you is probably too much.
2: Hair and Makeup
- Hair Styling
You should style your hair the way you would for an important meeting or work function. Aim for professional hair styles and steer clear of styles that are either too glamorous or too casual.
A blowout is always a great option, as is light curling or straightening. A bun or pony tail can be quite harsh on some face shapes.
If you are going to get your hair cut for your headshots, schedule the cut one week in advance. Hair tends to take some time to settle.
Avoid glossy or wet looking hair products as this can look oily under studio lighting. Use matte hair products where possible and use only as much as is needed.
If you can have your hair professionally styled this is ideal, but by no means mandatory.
- Facial Hair
For men who prefer a clean shave, do it the night before your headshots. This helps give time to settle the skin for the shoot the following day if you’re prone to sensitivities and get irritated skin easily.
If facial hair is part of your style, is it ideal to visit your barber 1-2 days prior to your shoot to have it neatly trimmed/groomed. Of course you can do this yourself if you are sufficiently adept.
If you would prefer to engage a professional makeup artist we are happy to provide or recommend one for you.
If you would prefer to do your own, then here are some particular tips and tricks for makeup application for headshots.
- Stay neutral. Keep your eye shadows a neutral shade that compliments your skin tone.
- Keep shimmery makeup to a minimum. It’s fine to have slight accents of the face highlighted, but opt for a more dewy glow than a full shimmer/glitter. It’s subtle, flattering, and will work well with studio lighting.
- If you use liner, stick to a deep brown (as opposed to black) to soften the eye.
Do not bring the shadow or liner under the eye as it can be unflattering in studio.
- Avoid products with SPF protection. It can create a flashback which makes you face look lighter than the rest of the body.
- Clients of any gender opting to go without makeup should lightly moisturise in the couple of days leading up to the shoot and very lightly moisturise on the morning of the shoot. Do not apply moisturiser immediately before the shoot.
3: General Health
This might seem like a stretch for your photographer to be telling you what to eat and how to live, and maybe it is. Your images will be retouched, so will this make any difference? Maybe. Maybe not. But some clients really want to go the extra mile, so this is for them!
Looking after your general health can really help your headshots glow. Of course retouching will do a lot of this work, but if you really want to look and feel energetic and healthy in your headshots, then these tips will help.
In the week leading up to your headshots, try to take in 2 litres of water daily.
Your skin will be hydrated, your eyes will be brighter and your lips plump and less chapped. Your energy levels will be up, correcting your posture and energising your expressions.
Different skin types require different moisturising routines. If you know what works for you, keep doing it. If you don’t usually moisturise then find the lightest moisturiser you can and apply daily, particularly to your face, neck and hands.
Do not re-apply immediately before the shoot.
Make Healthy Diet Choices.
In the week leading up to your headshot session, there are some simple dietary tweaks that can make a difference to your images.
- Caffeine (dehydrated skin and acne)
- Alcohol (bloodshot eyes)
- Sugar (acne)
In the week leading up to your headshot session, aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. This will help you look bright and alert whilst reducing dark bags under the eyes.
Choose the Best Headshots Photographer
This article helps you prepare for your corporate headshots over a couple of weeks, and your side of the camera is half the equation. The other half is us, on the other side of the camera. We’ve been preparing to create your portraits for our entire careers. If you’d like to book corporate headshots, be it for an individual, a small team or an army of staff, please get in touch with us at Epic Executive Portraits.