How to Prepare for Headshots


Hydrate and Rest. Staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest can go a long way in maintaining a refreshed look. By staying hydrated, you can naturally prevent dry and tight skin, and with staying rested you can prevent from appearing tired and rid those infamous dark circles under the eyes. This also helps with with energy levels. Hydrating and resting will also create a natural glow and maintain good energy on set, these are essential to prepare.

Bring Options. We may not work through them all, and we may not even need to, but it’s better to over prepare and not under prepare your attire options. Try things on before you pack for the session, see what looks good and what doesn’t. Typically, the image will be cropped at the chest or above, so focus on that area. Also, do they fit nicely? Perfect! Are they too snug? Ditch it! For portraits, you’ll want to consider the entire outfit, clothes you can easily move around in work best because you will be doing more posing in that part of the session. You can browse through my portfolio for ideas on what to wear, but just know that clothes that you feel and look great in will boost your confidence everytime!​

Planning Ahead. Think ahead for your headshots… are you planning on doing a drastic hair style change, such as going from long to a pixie cut? What about dying your hair? Something to think about for your headshots, if you are planning on doing something of that nature, plan to get that done before your session. We aim to capture the best true to life headshots so they should match how you will currently look.

Tanning. Please refrain from tanning, whether it’s the sun or a bed, two to three days at least before your session. Tanning will leave unwanted color and texture in your skin that my camera will pick up. If you do want to tan, plan ahead to allow time for your skin to heal. This also holds true if you have your eyebrows micro-bladed, you actually need up to two weeks for this healing process. Anything that effects your skin will need to have time for healing. We want your skin to have a natural and refreshed glow.

Know your Role. Whether your headshots will be used in the business professional sector or for an audition or comp card, knowing and understanding your role is essential to getting the most out of your session. Are you a lawyer? Practice on whether you want to convey approachable and confidence. Pediatrician? Kids are very receptive to smiles and laughs, parents want a doctor they can trust knows what’s best for their pride and joy. Actors, models, understand your characters. Consult with your agency to figure out roles they want you to audition for. With acting headshots, getting the most range also creates the most successful sessions that agencies can use. Practice, practice, practice, Pull up some inspiration on Pinterest, or YouTube clips, and study. Please don’t be the person who doesn’t do their homework. I want the best for you and together we can that happen!

What should I wear for my Headshots


Again, this is a headshot experience, to get the best from it keep in mind that it’s all about you. There is no need to over dress, we will get amazing images which comes from your eyes and your expression, not your clothing attire. However, if there is something you own and absolutely love, bring it, we will work it in towards the end of session.

What to wear: 

  • Black, white or any shade of gray (gray on gray is the most aesthetically pleasing).
  • Solid colored earth and/or jewel tones (bonus points if the tones match your eyes.
  • Layers, bring a jacket or sweater that compliments one or more of your shirts/tops.
  • For the Headshots Lite Session bring 2 – 3 outfits. For Headshots Essentials or Personal Branding bring at least 6 – 8 outfits.
  • Also, for headshots, we will only be photographing you from the chest up, portraits/personal branding however will be full body.
  • To see examples of what looks best for what to wear please visit either my Acting Headshots or Business Headshots portfolios.

Pro Tip #1 – Iron or press – Plan ahead to get this taken care of, wrinkles are very distracting and give a sloppy appearance. Please take the time to do this. If your headshots are being done with your company, prepare by bringing your clothes in a garment bag or on a hanger, don’t wear it the day of.

What not to wear: 

  • Baggy or oversized clothing (they add weight and give a sloppy appearance).
  • Loud colors, logos and dominating patterns/textures, (these are distracting, the focus is you not the fashion).
  • High collared shirts/jackets (you have a neck, we want to see it, hidden necks appear stumpy).
  • Wrinkled clothing (again, wrinkles are distracting and give a sloppy appearance).
  • Bright, clunky, dangling or gaudy jewelry (another form of distraction that we are better without).

Pro Tip #2 – Buy and Save – Is there a jacket or top at the mall that’s calling your name? Go back and get it! Leave the tags on, bring it to the shoot then return it when we are done.

Earth or jewel tones

Gray on gray for most aesthetically pleasing

Black tops add class and sophistication

Tips on suits to prepare for Business Headshots

(For men or women who choose to wear business suits) 

  Pro Tip #5 – Fine Tune Tailoring – If you plan to wear a suit, try it on and make sure the suit is properly fitted before your session, this will give you time to address any issues. Please ensure it has been dry cleaned or pressed and bring it to the session in a garment tote.

  • Bring a couple different suits with various ties and collared shirt combinations.
  • Remember,aA suit’s fit can make or break your headshot session.
  • Don’t have a suit? Bring a couple of your best sports coats, those can work just as well.
  • For best tips on wearing men’s suites for your corporate headshots I recommend reviewing my Suits for Headshots Guide.

Color coordination and fitting is essential

Women’s Corporate Headshots

Corporate Headshots Louisville

Men… Shaving, Let’s talk about this real quick. 

  • If you are normally clean shaven and this is the image you wish to convey, please shave a few hours before our session if possible. Not the night before, but earlier in the morning if possible. This will give time for the skin to heal and the redness that occurs from shaving to settle down.
  • If you are going for a bearded or scruffy look but also want a clean cut look, then please come how you would rock your facial hair. We can capture that first, then you can go to the bathroom and shave. Please bring your shaving toiletries and a towel if you decide to go this route.
  • Trimming up, I’m just going to say this since there is no other way around it… ear and nose hairs, please make sure those are under control.

Tips for wear suits? I have you covered gentlemen!

Click the image for my article and preventing this attire wreck

Tips for Headshots Make-up


Although it’s not required, I do recommend going with one of the talented artists I work closely with. They are members of The Beauty Patrol and their work can be seen throughout my portfolio and home page. Each of their artists have been professionally trained in clean and natural make-up, a technique optimal for headshots. You may be asking, why use an artist from my team vs your own, or even doing it yourself, well there are two major benefits –

Benefit One – ​They are trained professionals who are familiar with my lighting system and can meet the the diverse makeup needs of each client, no matter your complexion. The goal of professional headshot make-up is to end with a result that looks like there is not much make-up applied in the first place. That doesn’t mean, less applied, it’s just applied differently using advanced techniques. ​In addition, they also do light hair styling which is also changed up during the sessions to achieve different looks.

Benefit Two – They remain on set throughout the entire session. By doing so, adjustments are made based on lighting, styling and the clients preferences to build their looks up as we progress further into the session. They also to tend to make-up corrections such as lipstick or eye make-up smudges along with flyaway taming. Frequent hair placements and makeup touch ups are necessary to get the best scenarios in between sets. This allows me to concentrate on working with you to bring out the best expressions with each of the sets. Plus, when it comes to the styling, it’s always good to have a second opinion!

Here is a short blog that I wrote “5 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Make-Up Artist for your Headshots“. This will help you decide if hiring a make-up artist is right for you.

If you are hiring my team, please arrive with no product on your face and your hair lightly styled as you would normally wear it.

  • If you own a particular color lipstick or eye shadow, then bring it in, we can try to work that in towards the end of the session.​

Pro Tip #3 – Pampering – You are essentially treating yourself to a pampering session when you hire an on set make-up artist! If you would like to have this set up then I can arrange for a team member to be at the shoot. Or if you have further questions you can contact them directly here – Contact The Beauty Patrol

Again, it is not required to use my team, but just as you are hiring me as a professional that specializes in headshot photography, it’s highly recommended that you hire a photographer that specializes in headshot make-up which is clean, light and natural.​ I’m not responsible for the usability of your headshots if the artist you hire does apply the correct make-up. I’d be more than happy to chat with them about what is expected and what we need.

Make-up by Alexis Mattingly / Beauty Patrol

My team will tend to you during the session

Make-up by Breanna Ries / Beauty Patrol

 Make-Up for Headshots

If you’re planning on going elsewhere or doing your own make-up, please keep it simple, clean and natural is the way to go. Also, I strongly encourage reviewing my Professional Make-Up Guide for Headshots. You want your headshot to represent you. Bold or dramatic trends will date your headshot and are usually out in a year… a natural look will always simply be timeless.

Also, if you are doing your own and your session entails multiple looks then please bring your make-up kit. Uou can jazz up your make-up as we work through the session (bring your hair products and tools as well). If you use another make-up artist, ask if they would consider coming on set to build up your looks as we go. Pro Tip #4 – Natural Retouching – I honed my lighting and post production retouching skills in the beauty & fashion industry, so between the two, a few blemishes or minor breakouts will not be an issue. Please don’t stress over this, I got you! Avoid the following make-up products:

  • Any product with SPF or Titanium Dioxide (causes flashback). 
  • Acne medication products (leaves a white cast).

Avoid the following make-up practices:

  • Heavy eyeliner, sharp or hard lines.
  • Penciled in eyebrows with a harsh line, make it natural.
  • Fake eyelashes (a definite no no, they cause the eyes to look dark and heavy).
  • Heavy or hard lined eye shadow (we are doing headshots, not an editorial portrait session).
  • Too much blush (excessive blush will hide your natural skin tones on cheeks).
  • Bold lipstick or lip liner (use natural nude/pink colors with a satin finish, or a hydrating lipstick in neutral colors, to even out chapped lips).
  • Powder foundation (liquid concealer is much better on camera, professionals understand this).
  • Psss…did I mention no SPF? (this will reflect my light, cause flashback and it will render the images useless).

​ If you know you want to try out a more dramatic style of makeup, save some inspiration on your phone and we can build the make-up towards the end of the shoot… but let’s start on the natural side! For children under 13, I strongly encourage little to no make-up as I want to preserve their natural and youthful appearance in camera. Ages 14 to 15/16, we can apply light and natural make-up, again the goal is to preserve their youth and not make them look older than they are.

Disclosure – Again, it’s not required to use my team, however I can not take responsibility for the usability of your headshots if your make-up artist does not follow my direction. If it’s not a true to life representation of yourself then there’s a chance they may not meet the criteria set by agencies and casting directors. Just as you are hiring me as a professional that specializes in headshot photography, you should consider hiring an artist that specializes in headshot make-up – which is clean, light and natural.​ I’d be more than happy to chat with them about what is expected and what we need. Remember I want the best for you and I’m willing help out as much as I can to achieve our goals.

Example of clean and natural eye make-up

Example of too much eye make-up

Headshot Advice for Actors, Models or Business Professionals

One last piece of advice, especially for budding actors or emerging talent (mom and dad, this includes your children and teens too), is to practice your expressive characters and ranging emotions. The more characters and emotions we can capture, the more robust your theatrical or editorial headshot selections will be. This will in return provide a nice portfolio for you to select form when preparing for castings. As I’ve mentioned before, our overall goal is being approachable while projecting confidence. Being approachable comes from our natural smiles and the confidence comes from our eyes. A great video to watch on confidence comes from the man I’ve personally studied under, world renowned photographer Peter Hurley (you can watch it here – This is something similar to what I will coach along with several other coaching directions.

If you have further questions, feel free to email and I will be happy to chat with you. See you soon!