How to prepare for your headshot session

So you or your company booked a photographer to take your headshot? That's great! But what do you need to take into account to make sure that you walk out with your best business portraits ever?
After both photographing lots of headshots as well as having mine taken, I bundled my best practices into this little blogpost. We will be talking about perception, first impressions, clothing and posing.

1. How would you like to be perceived?

If there is anything that I have learned about working in marketing is that you should have a vision before you start executing. Your portrait is often the first point of contact with your personal brand. Therefore it is a good idea to think about how you want to be perceived by your audience.

For most business portraits there is a sweet spot where confidence meets approachability. This however is not a mandatory look for everyone. If your greatest asset is your humour or your fierce look then by all means throw it at the camera.

2. What should you wear?

This is without a doubt the most frequently asked question. And with good reason; your outfit will greatly influence people's first impression. To illustrate the power of the outfit I grabbed my friend Hans Kolbeek and put him next to a window.




As you can see, the difference in outfits makes a big impact. You can make up your mind about which one you prefer. For the sake of Hans' online marketing business, we picked the semi-formal photo. The other two portraits still found another purpose. For this reason I advise to bring a broad range of clothes that differ in formality as well as in colour. Other things to keep in mind are:

  1. No bold patterns or text on your shirt: the shot is about your face and we don't want anything to distract from that.
  2. Make sure that everything is ironed and ready to go.
  3. Take items along that you would actually wear ( think about a suitable outfit for a business meeting ), if you wear glasses in real life, then take them along as well.
  4. If you're not sure, then ask your partner or a friend what kind of colours suit you the best.

3. Posing Tips

3.1 Body posture

Body language is one of your most honest ways of communication. It is for this reason that it's fairly easy to tell how comfortable the person was when their photo was taken.
Although a headshot will not show your entire body, your entire body will influence your headshot. Your shoulders will skew in a certain manner if your feet or not both on the floor, etc.
The basics to having good body posture are no different then what our parents tried to teach us when we were young: stand up straight, don't slouch, roll back your shoulders and look people in the eye. The same goes for having your headshot taken: put both feet on the floor, straighten your back, relax your shoulders and look into the lens.

3.2 Expression

Aha, you cringed when you read 'look into the lens'. I know, it can be uncomfortable to do so without knowing what you look like. There is no mirror nor a front-facing camera showing what your selfie looks like. So here are some things to practice in front of your mirror until it 

Confidence comes from the eyes

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Squinch eye.jpg

Which pair of eyes looks most confident to you? I have to admit that Hans his stare is not even as bad as others that I had in the studio. Still, the difference in approachability is day and night.
The way to provoke this look is to flex the lower eyelid. What?! Well it's like squinting, but different. Go stand in front of the mirror and try to raise your lower eyelid without lowering your upper one too much.

You don't HAVE to smile
This is one of the biggest misconceptions. Most people are used to saying cheese or having a photographer say: "smile". Of course a smile will make you look more approachable, but an obviously fake smile will do exactly the opposite. I prefer people not smiling or having a tiny smile with their lips closed if they are not comfortable with doing a full-blown smile.

3.3 Jawline

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One of the most important things to make sure you look your best in your headshot is to accentuate your jawline. To do so you should try to do 'the chicken', this pose feels weird but looks amazing in the picture.
Just look at the example of Kevin. He brings his forehead towards the lens while bringing his chin down. Don't forget to relax your shoulders while doing this.


These tips should get you ready for your own headshot-session. If you are still left with specific questions you should always contact the photographer you have booked your session with so you can look your best in your future business portrait.