A professional portrait is often considered to be your official public image. It is the face people will associate with your name. From a visual prospective, it should be your best foot forward and as your photographer, it's my job to help you achieve this end.
The following applies to professional headshots. You want to convey confidence, competence, and approachability. How you dress matters. The following is a short guide for your consideration.
What you wear for your professional portrait is important because of the social signals it conveys. You have to look the part. The following are my recommendations:
Unless you are in the fashion or fitness industry, it would be prudent to dress conservatively. You are not advertising your body. Instead, you want to look like a serious professional who cares about your work and your clients.
Wear a Suit Jacket
You can instantly improve your professional image by wearing a well-fitting suit jacket. If your jacket is a little loose because you've recently lost weight, and you haven't had the chance to get a new jacket tailored, we can use a few safety pins for the shoot, and I can digitally tailor it to fit you in post-production.
Bring your White Coat
It's part of your uniform, an essential aspect of your personal brand, and thus is necessary.
I recommend men wear clean, pressed, collared shirts, with a tie. Make sure the collar is free of wrinkles and has crisp edges. Women may wear blouses, but the neckline should be high enough to be tasteful (slightly below the clavicles is safe).
Wear solid colors (This is VERY IMPORTANT)
It's best to wear solid colors. Patterns can be distracting. You should avoid it because it draws attention away from your face. Furthermore, patterns can go out of style; solid colors are timeless. But if you must wear patterns, select attire that is has muted color tones.
Men: It's fine not to wear any jewelry. In fact, I prefer that you don't because jewelry can be distracting. However, a nice watch or a wedding band is acceptable. But if there's a piece that you insist on wearing, that would be fine.
Women: Keep jewelry simple and classy. It should subtly compliment your look and not compete with you for attention. When in doubt, bring it with you on the day of the shoot. We can always test it out to see if it works.
Ideally, your professional portrait hairstyle should reflect the hairstyle you wear every day. For better or worse, your hair is one of those things that people immediately notice. You should look as authentic as possible. That's why I recommend you take a bit of extra time to do your hair the way you would if you had an important meeting that day. Doing so will not stray you far from reality, and that's what we want.
If you have time, you should get your hair treated to minimize split ends and reduce the look of damage from color and heat treatment. Your stylist should be able to recommend products for this purpose.
If you have a dry scalp and have to deal with dandruff, it's ok. I spot check every hair on your head visible to the camera and remove anything that's not supposed to be there in post production.
I will also minimize stray hairs at the hairline, etc.
The side-part hairstyle has been around for a long time. In part because it is a timeless look that conveys sophistication. Don't cut your sides too closely.
Close cropped sides are more youthful and edgy. An experienced professional look is more grown-in. Think John Hamm in Madmen.
Women: Wax before your session if necessary.
Men: Trim your beard well. I want clean lines. Don't worry about missed hairs; I can clean up in post production. Use beard oil to keep your beard healthy and clean looking. It also helps keep your skin moisturized and minimizes irritation.
Women: Don't over-tweeze. Make sure they are separated and clean up the lines. If you use eyebrow pencil, go for a natural look. It has to blend well with your face. There are some great videos on how to do this on YouTube.
Men: Don't touch them unless they are completely unkempt. I'll have a set of tweezers with me just in case, but we probably won't need them.
The keyword is natural. You want to be conservative with your make-up. The natural neutral look is ideal for professional portraits. Please consider the following:
Bright lipstick is not conducive to your professional image. Glossy lip products are also discouraged because it would reflect too much light and can look distracting. If you use lip liner, make sure to blend it well with your lipstick which should be a neutral color tone.
A professional photo is not the appropriate place for dramatics. Keep your eyes looking as natural as possible. I will dilate your pupils very slightly, remove any visible blood vessels from the whites of your eyes, and enhance the color of your iris in post-production. These retouches are enough to make your eyes stand out without you doing anything. But if you usually wear eye makeup, be conservative and aim to look natural.
I will remove any redness and irritation in post-production. Acne will be reduced along with blemishes that you don't care for. Keep your foundation light and use concealer conservatively. I want you to preserve your pores. Don't use blush. Don't over contour your cheek shadows. Keep everything well blended and natural looking. Bring oil absorbing sheets. We might need to blotch any areas of high shine from your face.
Please let me know if you have any questions!