10 Ways to Get a Great Looking Professional Headshot

29 Mar 2018

Professional headshots are a crucial part of commercial success, and the primary reason for this is that people want to do business with other people, rather than with nameless and faceless companies. Not only does a headshot put a face to your company, but it also makes you a recognizable representative of your brand, improves networking efforts, and makes you more approachable.

In today’s world, where social media marketing and online networking are integral to business success, having a professional headshot can help you stand out against the competition, provide potential clients and associates with a welcoming introduction to your business, and ensure that you're always making the best first impression possible when new people are introduced to your brand. However, the key to a successful headshot is professionalism, so today we’re going to talk about how you can prepare and what you can do to ensure you end up with a great looking and business headshot in Tampa.

1. Don’t cut or color your hair within two weeks of the shoot

There's nothing wrong with getting a fresh haircut or a new color in the weeks leading up to your headshot, but you don’t want to do it too soon before the photo shoot. A good rule of thumb is to leave one to two weeks between your stylist appointment and your shoot, because this will give your hair just enough time to grow out a little or the color a chance to fade to a more natural shade, and this will result in a better photo. Similarly, it’s best to avoid using new products in your hair for the first time before the shoot, because there's no way of knowing how they’ll make your hair look.

There are, of course, a couple of exceptions to this rule. First off, if you have a beard, make sure it’s properly groomed for the day of the photo shoot. Similarly, if you want to invest in professional hair styling (not a cut or color job) for the shoot, you can definitely do that the day of or the day before.

2. Stay hydrated in the days leading up to the shoot

Your professional headshot is going to be with you for a long time, and it’s going to serve you well for functions, events, articles, features, social media profiles, and elsewhere. In order to make sure you're really putting your best foot forward for first impressions, you want to look healthy, lively, and vibrant in your photo. The problem is that cosmetics and post-shoot touch-ups will only be able to accomplish so much if you start with dehydrated skin. The major problem is that dehydrated skin looks dull and shows wrinkles and lines more easily, so if you're dehydrated when you get your photo taken, you won’t look your best. The fix, fortunately, is easy, and all you have to do is drink plenty of water in the weeks and days leading up to your shoot to ensure your skin is radiant and healthy.

3. Get lots of sleep the night before

Similarly, a lack of sleep can do the opposite of wonders for your skin. By getting plenty of sleep and rest in the days leading up to your photo shoot, you'll guarantee that your skin is glowing and that you don’t have any breakouts, dark circles under your eyes, puffiness, or redness. Furthermore, a lack of sleep can increase stress levels, and you can bet that will show through in your professional headshot. The bottom line? Rest up before your shoot.

Need help getting a good night’s sleep? Exercise during the day, eat a balanced diet, practice stress-relieving techniques, keep the same bed and wake time every day, make sure your room is both dark and quiet at bedtime, and turn off all electronic devices about an hour before bed.

4. Stick with natural or professionally applied makeup

Makeup can do wonders for both men and women in terms of highlighting features and concealing blemishes, but too much makeup won’t do you any favors in a professional headshot. Along with being overwhelming, wearing too much makeup could also mean you're unrecognizable in the photo, especially if you don’t usually wear makeup in your daily life. If you do your makeup yourself, remember a few key tips about application:

  • Keep eyeliner light or medium
  • Go for a lipstick that’s no more than two shades darker than your skin tone
  • Apply a quality but natural foundation that matches your skin tone as perfectly as possible
  • Avoid lip gloss, which will look wet in a photo
  • Reduce shine on your skin with a layer of translucent powder
  • Don’t choose any overly bright colors, sparkles, or shimmery makeup products

You don’t have to opt for a professional makeup job before your photo, but it certainly can help, because a professional will be able to apply the right amount of subtle makeup so that it does what it’s supposed to without overpowering your features. This is especially true if you don’t often wear makeup and aren't comfortable applying it, because a bit of professionally done makeup will bring out your natural beauty, rather than detracting from your features or distracting viewers from your professionalism. When searching for an experienced Tampa makeup artist, try to avoid artists that specialize in high fashion or editorial work and get a makeup artist that specializes in professional business headshots, instead.

5. Pick the right clothes

The right outfit really can make or break business headshots, because clothes can say professionalism just as much as your demeanor and attitude can. For both men and women, start with a good business suit that fits you well. Stick with classic colors, such as gray or navy, and avoid bright colors, bold designs, and highly patterned fabrics. A small accent of color is acceptable, but too much boldness will be distracting. Patterns to avoid include plaid, herringbone, tight grids, stripes that are close together, and large lines. When it comes to shirts, it’s best to avoid stark and bright whites, so instead opt for a darker shirt or something off-white. When it comes to headshots in Tampa, it’s appropriate to wear short sleeves or a professional sleeveless blouse because of the warm climate, but if you go this route, make sure to apply the same color and pattern rules as if you were wearing a blazer or cardigan.

If you're wearing a tie, don’t choose anything shiny, and make sure the tie matches your suit or shirt. It’s always best to stay away from turtlenecks as well as casual t-shirts or tank tops, but polo shirts and dressy shirts with pockets (without a blazer) can work for some people and in some businesses. Finally, make sure your clothes are clean, crisp, and pressed for the photo shoot so that they add to your look instead of taking away from it. For some people, it might be worth buying a new suit or shirt to wear, as older clothes can sometimes show old stains or appear stretched out and misshapen on-camera.

6. Choose simple and understated jewelry

Jewelry can be a great accent piece in your headshot, but it shouldn’t take center stage. In fact, it should barely be noticeable at all. Small and simple is best, and avoid anything too chunky, large, or outdated. For instance, earrings shouldn’t be longer than an inch, and you may want to remove any facial piercings if they aren't generally commonplace in your industry. The important thing is that you want your face to be the first thing people see when they look at the photo, not the jewelry you're wearing.

Bonus tip: This doesn’t just apply to jewelry, but any accessory you might wear, including scarves, ties, pocket squares, watches, and more.

7. Clean your glasses well

First and foremost, decide if you should even wear your glasses in the headshot. Just like with makeup, if you don’t often wear glasses for day-to-day activities (and only wear them for reading, for instance) and you might be unrecognizable with them on, then leave them off. Similarly, if you always wear glasses and might not be as identifiable without them, then wear them in the photo. If you are going to wear them, however, just make sure they're spotless. For many people, cleaning glasses is something perfunctory you do when you realize that the world is starting to look a little hazy, but dirty glasses can have a serious but subtle impact on the overall look of your headshot. Although glasses are a small part of the picture, fingerprints, dirt, and dust are very visible in photos, especially if the light catches them the right way, and this can make your headshot less than perfect.

8. Peek in the mirror right before getting started

When the day comes for your photo shoot, you'll already have put in many hours of prep work on things like makeup, hair, and picking the right outfit, but all it takes is one minor oversight, and you'll end up with a headshot that you're not happy with. The good news is that all you have to do to prevent this is take 30 seconds right before you sit down to look in the mirror, fix your hair, straighten your clothes, check your teeth, and address any other minor imperfections that might show up in the photo.

Expert tip: Once you get to the studio, you may realize that you don’t quite like the color of your suit or the style of your earrings, so you might want to consider bringing a few outfit changes with you just in case.

9. Relax and smile for the photo

You may not realize it at the time, but being stressed when you get your photo taken can have a major (and negative) impact on the resulting headshot because you won’t be putting forward your best and most natural self. Remember that your headshot should make you look approachable and welcoming, and that will be difficult if you appear stressed and forced. Once you get into position, take a moment and take a few deep breaths to relax. When you're ready, smile naturally and let the photographer work some magic.

10. Headshots Tampa: choose a professional photographer

Finally, the most important element in getting a great professional headshot is to choose a professional photographer. We may live in the selfie age where every cell phone has a camera, and every smartphone user wants to be the next Annie Leibovitz, but when it comes right down to it, the only person who can provide you with a truly professional headshot is a professional photographer. Along with having the skills, knowledge, and equipment necessary to take the best picture possible, a professional also has plenty of experience taking headshots in Tampa and will be able to help you with all the points mentioned here today. Beyond that, a professional will also make sure that:

  • The lighting is perfect
  • You look relaxed and natural
  • You're photographed at the best angle
  • The camera is at the right height
  • Your clothes and overall look are conducive to the headshot you want
  • The result is a warm but professional headshot that makes a great first impression

Headshots aren't just for actors and performers anymore, and in today’s digital age, a professional headshot can help you build your brand, create a welcoming face for your company, bring life to your “About” and “Biography” pages, give your website character, and even spruce up marketing and networking efforts. Putting these 10 tips to use will certainly help to ensure you're happy with the result, but the best way to make sure you have a great looking and professional business headshot is to hire a professional photographer, who can help you with lighting, clothing tips, posture, and much more. Contact us today for more information, more tips, and to schedule your appointment for a professional Tampa headshot.