How to prepare for your headshot photo session

Thank you for booking a mini headshot session with me. I try to make my headshot sessions as relaxed and informal as possible, and yes you’ll even find yourself having fun! It’s totally natural to feel a little nervous about your session; I do everything I can to ensure that you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

I put together this guide to help you prepare from your session, based on my experience of working with many fabulous entrepreneurs. But please note that every headshot session I do is different, because you are unique.

So please just take the ideas and suggestions from this guide that resonate with you, and don’t worry about the ones that don’t! It’s just to help you prepare as best as you can for the session.

1. Do your brand research

surrey headshot photographerIt’s important that you have a clear idea of your brand before you book a photo shoot, so that we can ensure that your photos are perfectly on brand for you.

I’ll send you a questionnaire before the session which will help me learn what I need to know about you and your brand.

It helps me to know what words you would associate with yourself and your brand so I can ensure your headshots have the right feel to them. Also it’s really useful for me to know if you have specific brand colours.

2. Planning your outfit

Now time for that big question, what do you wear?

The clothes you wear can make a big difference to the feel of your photos (no pressure then!) What you wear says a lot about your brand and style, and has a major impact on the first impression you make to potential clients.

I can’t tell you exactly what to wear as you need to be you. If you have amazing pink hair and love to wear colourful vintage dresses and proudly show off your tattoos, then someone telling you to wear a dull brown trouser suit just isn’t going to work!

I thought it might help if I write a list of do’s and don’ts. Again, please remember this is your shoot, so I want you to show your unique style. But from the hundreds of shoots I’ve done, this is what I have learnt works and what doesn’t work so well.


– Think about your brand colours and wear colours that co-ordinate with these. Make sure the colours of your clothes will work on your website.


– Make sure that the colours that you wear actually suit you (either invest in having your colours done or ask an honest friend!)

– Wear solid colours
…I love patterns but solid colours tend to work best at photo shoots as they don’t detract from your face. If you do want to wear a patterned top (and I don’t blame you, I love a bit of animal print!) then just make sure the pattern isn’t too fussy.

– Wear clothes that fit well
. Avoid clothes that are too tight or too loose or slouchy as that can make you look bigger than you are (think Gok Wan pulling in women’s clothes round their waists!)


– Wear layers if you want as then you could remove a cardigan or jacket to have a different look to your photos. We won’t have time for a full outfit change but layers can help to give you a few different looks.

– It works well to wear jewellery for some of the shoot, especially as jewellery is easy to swap over to add a different look to your images. Try to wear just one statement piece, so either big earrings or a statement necklace rather than both.

– Bring a different option
. It’s a great idea to bring another top along to the shoot, so then we have another option if your top isn’t working with the light conditions or the background. Unlikely but it’s good to have a back up!


– Avoid wearing something you wouldn’t normally wear or something you feel uncomfortable in. It feels nerve-racking enough as it is having someone point a camera at you, don’t make it worse by wearing something you feel out of place in. It will show in your photos.

– Avoid wearing clothes that are old, bobbly, stained or creased
. This is likely to show up in your photos and could end up costing you more in retouching fees.

– Avoid logos, neon colours, or busy prints
. These will overpower the images and make potential clients focus on those rather than you and what you’re doing. Also please be aware than thin stripes can warp in your images so are best avoided.


– Avoid showing too much skin. Even on a hot day, if you have all of your headshots taken in a vest top they won’t look quite right in the middle of the winter!


– Avoid polo necks as these can sometimes make you look like you have a floating head, not such a good look!

– Avoid stark white or jet black tops
where possible. Black jackets with different colour tops under is ok, or a black or white top (not polo neck) with a nice neck line is fine. But if you can, cream, grey or navy tops are better than white or black.

3. Think about your hair & make-up

surrey headshot photographerHair and make up is a really personal thing.

Let’s talk about make up first. Some of my clients love to have their make-up done professionally before the session and it gives them confidence.

Other clients that I’ve worked with love to do their make up themselves. This is really down to personal preference. I have had clients had their make up done professionally and then not liked the way it looks in their images, so I would highly recommend having a test run with the make up artist you’re going to use first and get someone to take a few shots of you (with a phone is fine) just to check that you like the end result.

You really don’t want to be investing time and money in a photo shoot, then end up with a full set of photos where you don’t like your make up. So please make sure it’s right.

I suggest wearing the same amount of make up that you would wear on a night out. For some women that’s a bit of mascara and lippy, for others it’s the full works!

The most important thing is that it look like you. This isn’t the time to try something completely new.

With regards to hair, a shoot is a great excuse to have a professional blow dry on the morning! I think it generally looks more flattering to wear hair down for a shoot, unless you wear it up 100% of the time.

And with regards to glasses, if you wear glasses all of the time then it makes sense to wear them for your shoot as well. If you only wear them some of the time then I will take some photos of you wearing your glasses, but most will be without as they can cause problems with reflections.

It really helps if you wear glasses with non-reflective lenses in as then we won’t struggle with the lens glare quite as much.

4. Countdown to the shoot

surrey headshot photographerThe self-care you do before the shoot is your choice, so please just take the suggestions below that resonate with you. Hopefully this countdown to the shoot will help you to get prepared!

2-3 weeks before the shoot
– ensure you have completed the questionnaire
– shop for new clothes if you need them!
– if you are booking a make-up artist, have a practise session with them at few weeks before the shoot

1-2 weeks before the shoot
– Book in for a haircut if necessary so it has time to settle before the shoot

A few days before the shoot
– Get your eyebrows shaped or your lashes done if this is something you normally do
– Avoid drinking alcohol and eating salty foods a few days before your session so your skin doesn’t look tired
– Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep so that your skin is glowing for the shoot

Some of these things may not resonate with you which is fine. Just make sure that you look after yourself before the shoot. If you feel good about yourself then you’ll feel more confident and it will show in the photos!

On the day of the shoot
– Bring a spare top along to the session if you want to. Also please bring a hair brush, a compact mirror and make up (especially pressed powder) just in case any top-ups are necessary.
– Try and stay relaxed, remind yourself of why you are brilliant at what you do, and trust that I will get the best out of you. I promise it won’t be as painful as you think and you’ll end up enjoying it!


Take this time to really connect with you and your brand, and feel happy in the knowledge that you’ve taken a big step in taking your business to the next level and attracting your dream clients.

Haven't booked your session yet?