What to wear for business headshots

The most frequently asked questions in commercial photography are about what to wear for business headshots. And the answer is more nuanced than you might think. I made a list of considerations as you prep for your business headshot, with only a few of them actually being about what to wear!


Business portrait of woman in nelson bc

1. Be prepared. 

Get a good sleep. Drink lots of water. Avoid allergens or alcohol if this reddens your eyes or cheeks. If you really want to feel good, get a facial or massage the day before. Bring a brush to the session, whether it’s to smooth or change your hairstyle, and make up to soften the glow on your nose, forehead or bald spot.

2. Be yourself.

I always ask my clients to think of three qualities they want someone to see when they look at the photo. What you project in your business headshot is strongly influenced by your mindset.

If you feel nervous and awkward — which is very common and very normal for everyone! — but you’re thinking about being welcoming or dependable or compassionate, these qualities will override the look of nervousness, and you’ll feel less awkward, too. 

Talk with your photographer about what you want to convey. She can then look for these expressions as she makes your portrait, starting conversations and providing prompts that give you the opportunity to show those qualities. 

woman smiling in business headshot

3. Get comfortable. 

When you consider what to wear for business headshots, you must wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, both in fit and in style. Your photographer will probably provide suggestions as to hues or colours that complement your brand and website design, but you’re in charge of determining whether you feel good in the clothes you choose. 

If you buy something new, wear it before the photo session so you can get a feel for whether it really feels like you.

Consider how they fit. If clothes are too baggy, your shape will get lost in the material. If they’re too tight, seams will stretch and button closures will strain. Make sure the clothes fit your body, and you can sit and stand comfortably.

4. Keep it simple.

You want your headshot to be about your expression, so your clothes should support your expression rather than distract from it. Strong patterns and large graphics steal the viewer’s attention from your face. Bright colours can also be distracting, but bright colours or patterns in accessories can add interest to the photo, and even suggest something about your personality.

Business headshot of woman in nelson bc

5. Switch it up.

Bring a jacket or cardigan or scarf or sweater so you can try a few different looks. This will this give you some options if you’re still feeling nervous, but you’ll also get a selection of photos so that you can change your profile photo without having to do another photo session.

Bring along jewelry, scarves, ties or any other accessory that complements the impression you are trying to give. If you’re bold and joyous, colourful, long earrings or a patterned tie can say this. If you want to convey classic professionalism and reliability, avoid accessories and stick to simple, clean cuts. If you wear glasses, make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned them so smudges don’t show in your photos. Glasses are another chance to get some variety in your photos, and to potentially  have some something to keep your hands busy.

6. Talk about your hang ups.

Getting your portrait made is a potentially vulnerable experience. One of the reasons we might get so nervous about what to wear for business headshots is that we’re actually uncomfortable with how we look in photos. If there’s something about your features that you’re really conscious about, talk with your photographer. Collaborate with them so they understand your reservations, and they can adjust angles and perspectives to help you feel your best self.

Black and white business headshot by nelson bc photographer
Your business portrait is your client’s first impression of you. Give them the impression you want them to have by preparing thoughtfully for your business headshot.

If you’re ready to book your commercial portrait session, contact me here.

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