This will help you prepare for your mini branding photo shoot; everything from what to wear to planning props to bring to the shoot

How to prepare for your headshot session 

5 tips to help you prepare 

I know it can be a big step to book a photo shoot, so well done on making the first step to becoming more visible in your business. It makes such a difference once you have photos of yourself that you are proud to share.

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.

You’re probably now wondering how to prepare for your headshot session! I know it can seem a little daunting, so I put together this guide to help you prepare, based on my 15 years of experience . 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.

It’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.

If this all of this just feels jumbled in your head, then take a look at my Personal Brand Clarity Sessions and get in touch to see if there is time to book in for a session with me before your shoot. 

1. Get brand clarity 

Now time for that big question - what the heck 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 grey 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.


2. What to wear 

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!)

Think about wearing a solid colour on top…I love patterns but solid colours tend to work best for photos as they don’t detract from your face. Please feel free to wear a print for part of your shoot though as it’s great to mix it up and patterns can work great if they work with your branding. 

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.

Wear layers so you can take off layers without having to go to a changing room.

Wear shoes that you feel comfortable in. As we all know, heels elongate your body and make your legs look longer, but if you’re a converse girl through and through, don’t feel like you have to put on a pair of killer heels. Be you! Most of the photos will be of your waist up, so you don't need to worry too much about your shoes at a mini branding shoot. 

Bring different options. It’s a great idea to bring a few other tops/jackets along to the shoot, as you may have time to change your top once (possibly twice if you're very fast!) Also it means we have other options if one of the tops isn’t working with the light conditions or the background. 

You'll have a very happy photographer if you wear clothes with pockets (it makes posing that much easier!) They're not essential, but if you're choosing between outfits and only one has pockets, go with that one! 

Wearing something you wouldn’t normally wear or something you feel uncomfortable in. It will show in your photos.

Wearing clothes that are old, bobbly, stained or creased. This is likely to show up in your photos and will cost you more in retouching fees.

Logos, neon colours, or busy prints. These can 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.

Polo necks especially dark ones as these can sometimes make you look like you have a floating head!

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.

For men - please avoid shirts with a thin stripe as this tends to warps on camera. Block colours work best. 


Try to avoid...

Hair 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. (Just ask if you would like my recommendations for Surrey make up artists) 

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. If you want recommendations for local make-up artists, just let me know.

Then onto hair - a shoot is a great excuse to have a professional blow dry on the morning but it's definitely not essential! 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. I will try my hardest to avoid any glare, but it's not always possible if you haven't got anti-reflective coating on your lenses. 


3. Hair & make up 

In a mini branding shoot, there isn't any need to bring props if you don't want to, as it's more about photographing you. 

But I'm a big fan of having props in photos as it helps to tell a story, show what you do, plus it gives you something to do with your hands! 

Maybe you're a coach and want some images of you writing in a notebook or with your laptop. Or a fellow photographer, in which case bring your camera! 

Perhaps you teach people about social media, in which case we can get some photos of you on your phone or taking photos.


4. Plan props for the shoot

The 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 brand questionnaire I sent to you 
– shop for new clothes if you need them!
– if you are booking a make-up artist, have a practise session with them a 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
– Treat yourself to a gel manicure or take some time to give yourself a manicure. We are likely to take some photos which show your hands, so it helps if you're confident about your nails!
– Get your eyebrows shaped or your lashes done if this is something you normally 
– Avoid drinking alcohol and eating salty foods a few days before your session so your skin doesn’t look tired (sorry!) 
– 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
– Allow enough time for you to get ready without feeling rushed. 
– Bring any spare jacket etc with you and the props that you will be using. Also please bring a compact mirror and make up for any top-ups. You might need some pressed powder to keep any shine at bay!
– 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 we’ll have fun!

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.

I hope this guide has helped you to prepare well for your mini branding photo shoot…enjoy the experience!

Read this blog post with my tips to help you feel relaxed in front of the camera! 


8. Countdown to the shoot

I’ve been a branding photographer for well over a decade and have become known as one of the leading branding photographers in the UK. 

I’m so passionate about what I do. I adore making people feel comfortable in front of my camera and producing images that they will love. I genuinely care about my clients which is why so many of them return to me year after year.

I’ve photographed famous authors, renowned coaches, branding experts and hundreds of inspiring entrepreneurs. My work has been featured internationally in publications including Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Practical Photography and Cosmopolitan to name just a few.

I also help business owners to be more visible in their businesses whilst staying true to themselves with my 121 mentoring and retreats.

Hi I'm Vicki 

Personal Branding Photographer
& Visibility Strategist 

find out more 


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