What Should I Wear for my Headshot?


The question of what to wear or how much clothing to bring to your headshot session is a big area of concern for many people. It’s not one that should overwhelm you, though. Here are a few rules of thumb to take the pressure off. 

Dress not for the job you have, but for the job you want.  That’s a great start. The big thing about that saying though, is that the clothes you wear should make you comfortable as well as look good on you. It stands to reason that a comfortable person appears both more confident and more approachable. Those two traits also happen to be key to what I’m trying to achieve with you in the headshot process. So, dress for the job you want but do it in clothing that makes you comfortable.

Variety is the spice of life. One of the main reasons for booking a longer session is that will allow for more “looks” or changes of clothes. I advise you to bring everything AND the kitchen sink. If you normally dress casually for work, bring along some business casual clothes. If you are normally business casual, bring a suite and tie. If you normally wear a dress, bring a pantsuit or any other clothes that you might wear. If you are an actor, think about the roles you see yourself casting for. It’s far better to have things that you don’t use than to need something but not have it. I have a rolling clothes rack and I’ll meet you downstairs to help bring your clothes up to the studio. We’ll go through your outfits and decide what we want to shoot.

Don’t be loud. Avoiding loud colors and prints is a good idea for your headshot. The same thing can be said for makeup. The focus of your headshot is on your head. Well, your face, actually, but it’s located on your head. But it isn’t on your clothes or jewelry.  Remember, while you need to dress for the job you want, this isn’t a fashion shoot. This is all about putting the best image of you out there to be seen.

Don’t forget your pants. OK. Yeah, this is a headshot. If that’s all we are going to shoot, you can wear whatever you want below the waist. But occasionally mid-shoot, we’ll find a reason to shoot a three-quarter length or a full length shot. That will be a bit more difficult if you don’t have the right pants with you.

Season well. Ideally, you’d use your returning client discount to update your headshot several times a year. But we both know that most people aren’t going to do that. A photographer friend related a story where a client asked if he could do a more summer style for a shot because he was scheduled to speak at an event in a warmer climate and “didn’t want to be projected like that [in a suit and tie] and have the room sweat before I even start talking.”

Impress, don’t Bedazzle. Let’s talk about jewelry. You shouldn’t wear jewelry that will take the focus off of you. Only a portion of that necklace is going to be in the shot anyway; why make the person viewing it wonder what they are missing? When it comes to earrings, a conservative pair of diamond studs is fine if you need to wear them. But dangles or drops should be avoided. I’m going to ask you to take them out before the shoot. Obviously, if you wear gauges every day, not wearing them for the headshot is impossible. However, maybe wearing the smallest set you can would help keep the focus on your face. Remember, this is about you.

So, there it is, my guide to what you wear to your headshot session. These might sound like a lot of rules but from my experience, these are the foundation to a great headshot. Don’t stress. A shot without your favorite earrings or in clothes that you wouldn’t expect to wear for the headshot could be just the ticket to getting you that new promotion, job, role or client. Remember, we are both invested in this. We are a team. Our collective job is to get you the best picture you’ve ever had taken of you.

Daniel Elias