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How to Prepare for Professional Headshots? [Updated 2024]

From the right equipment, outfit, skills and easy apps useful for clikcing your best professional headshots, this guide covers it all.

An image of a woman posing for a professional headshot
An image of a woman posing for a professional headshot

Hey, pretty face! Where are you looking? You just need to look into the camera and get clicked. Oh, is it the how-to questions that are bothering you? Don't worry; we got you. We know how these big and small issues can be decoded. 

Sometimes, people don't look their best in their professional headshots, even with the perfect jawline, great features, and beautiful clothes. One reason is consciousness and lack of confidence. But it's also because they need to prepare. 

Usually, on the final day, everything just gets messed up and clingy. To avoid that, here is a brief guide mentioning even the little details you must remember. Also, it includes how you can plan your day and week so that everything is in sync. 

There is a lot of learning and unlearning waiting for you.

Now just smile and read!

And get ready for your jaw-dropping headshot. 

6 Steps to Prepare for Professional Headshots

Getting the perfect professional headshot will require careful consideration of your style, personality, appearance, and photography. Or, we can simply say it is a 50-50 partnership between the client and the photographer. 

The professional photographer will do their part, but the preparation part is long and must be taken care of by you only. Your professional headshot is going to be everywhere. It's the first impression you will make in the professional world. So, brace yourself and mug these tips to prepare for your photoshoot. 

Let's start the preparation!

1. Plan Everything Well 

Taking a headshot with a phone

Overplaying can be chaotic, but proper and sufficient planning can benefit days like these. But what planning do you have to do with the shoot for the headshot to come together nicely? That day must be smooth for you! 

So, schedule the meetings accordingly. Your hair and makeup appointment should align with the day of the shoot. You should have your preferred backgrounds discussed with your professional photographer or the friend who is helping you out with your DIY headshot. You also need to sleep well and don't look stressed. We suggest keeping it all very subtle for makeup and hair. You might get your hair done a day prior but makeup has to be done on the same day. 

2. Evaluate Your Clothing Options

What you wear and how you style is of fundamental importance when you are going for a professional headshot session. 

One of the most common mistakes you can make is not being able to style your outfit right. Sometimes, it's the fitting, pattern, styling, or something that looks bizarre on you. So, you need to keep in mind your style and preferences when picking up clothes for your professional headshot. Your headshot day has to go perfectly with everything and mistakes can ruin the mood and most importantly, your headshot. 

To avoid this, try all your best suits, dresses, or whatever makes you feel confident and then understand what looks best on you. After that, try different accessories to enhance your entire look. Check the fittings beforehand to avoid any fitting-related problems on the important day. Don't choose colors that are too flashy or the same color as the background. This will wash you out and make your headshot look too messy. 

Experiment! Experiment! and Experiment! 

When your shoot day arrives, try different clothing to find what suits your vibe and speaks to your style. Create plenty of looks. Know what colors suit your skin best. Also, do some analysis on how the prominent faces of your industry dress up. This research can help make your professional headshot stand out. 

Avoid heavy accessories that don't go at all with the outfit and make you look chunky and unprofessional. 


3. Sleep Well 

A girl sleeping peacefully

Yes, you can definitely hide those dark circles by using makeup, but it's better if they are not even there. 

Thus, to avoid them consider sleeping well and staying hydrated. Also, follow a proper skincare routine to look groomed on the headshot session day. Get rest, let your body relax, and let your mind calm down. 

Remember that happy picture of yours in which you loved your smile? It was so refreshing and you looked too good, right? Yes, that can't happen without sleeping well.

4. Let the Self Come Out 

A guy smiling posing for a headshot

Scroll back into the past, identify the photos you liked, and understand them. What colors are you wearing? What pose did you strike? How are you smiling? 

Looking back at our pictures is such a nostalgic experience on its own. So many stories come before our eyes. You can consider bringing such photos to your session too so that the photographer can determine your best angle.

But yes, avoid the outdoor photos. This is headshot photography, so pictures focusing on you alone will be a better reference. So, bring on that positive energy within yourself and let it reflect when the camera says click. 

5. Be Confident and Sure 

A man posing for a professional headshot

No headshot session should happen on your bad day, no matter what. A reshoot can be planned, or something else can be done. This happens quite a lot: At the time of the shoot, people are not feeling confident, which leads to dull and unprofessional headshots. 

Don't try to push yourself way too much when you are not comfortable.

Sometimes, people don't feel themselves much due to acne or bad hair. Also, stress and lack of sleep hamper their authentic self's ability to outshine in the photoshoot. 

Just take a break. We all can be in a bad mood on some days. Photoshoots can wait; life can't. So deal and heal with whatever is happening and then plan the final day of the session. 

A lot of photographers have a rescheduling policy. Even photographers want to get the best headshot but don't delay the headshot session by a lot while waiting for the perfect timing. Because if we take so much pressure it might never come. Timing and moments are created, not just manifested. 

Just come with a positive energy for your photo session and let the photographer do their thing. They often use good music to make you feel yourself, or they will just ask impromptu funny questions to get your natural smile, and not just a fake one. Also, these days, editing has become such a subtle game. So, even if you are 90% of your authentic, confident self today, just get the headshot picture done. 

6. Dress for the Impression You Want to Make 

In the previous steps, you learned how to plan everything from taking care of your skin to planning your outfit and being confident. However, the things that are more important than styling your clothes are making the right impression on your target audience. 

Don't overdo anything, neither makeup nor jewelry or hair. Also, don't wear too flashy colors as it's not required. Just go for what people in your industry choose for their best looks. And just implement the same things for yourself that you like about them. Don't wear glasses with blue light reflectors or something like that. You should also avoid jackets or coats with large logos or any flashy text. 

Some Extra Checks to Ace Perfection

A man in an office setup posing for headshot
  • Hair: Make sure the hair doesn't look frizzy, and every strand is in the same direction. If your hair gets static, you can use a hair spray but don't use too much, as that makes the hair look thinner. Also, hair loses its volume because of it, and it makes them look rough and sticky. So carry your spray and just sprinkle it a little after brushing your hair. Keep a check in between the shots too. 

  • Glow: The flash of lights can sometimes make dark spots or acne marks shine differently. That makes the face look dull and pale. If you have dry skin, don't apply any lotion before a few hours of the shoot as that will make your marks or makeup flash differently in the picture. For makeup too, don't overdo anything because it will reflect differently. If you don’t avoid overdoing certain things then the glow that you want will not appear in your professional headshot. If your skin is oily, it is suggested to wash your face with cold water, pat it dry, and sprinkle some powders to avoid any patches in your pictures. Take care of any sweating in between the shots too. 

  • Glasses: Clean your glasses well. Avoid glasses with transition lenses because that can make your photo look really funny. Also, consider wearing anti-glare glasses so that you don’t get any light reflections on your lenses.

The master of the show, i.e., the photographer knows everything. So, believe in your photographer and just do whatever he says. They will be giving some advice, so take note of it. They will tell you what to do, how to pose, and which angle looks great. Remove excess makeup or put on some of it, just consider everything and if you don’t align on something then discuss it with them. 

Suggestions like these are really important. Because if you miss out on them then the picture turns out to have flashes, blurs, and dull patches. And neither you nor the photographer wants to ruin the final headshot after putting in so much hard work. 

They will talk to you between the shots, so just smile and answer. It really helps to get some good candids. If you feel something is off, just communicate that with them. 

But out of all these steps, the one that is of prime importance is resting and relaxing. Just be calm and relax. Tell them to play your favorite song or do whatever it takes to get rid of that nervousness. 

Important Tips for a Successful Headshot Session

Professional headshots represent your confidence and personality. The more confident you look, the more trust your clients or concerned people can have in you. A good headshot is the mark of assurance. 

Now you know how to prepare for your professional headshot session but there are some tips to get a successful headshot too. 

Communicate Better

Tell the photographer what you want because a perfect headshot can't be the result of a guessing game. The better you communicate, the better they understand, and thus everything can proceed smoothly. 

Great results come only when everything is in good sync. For example, everything that is required is there. You are dressed well, the lighting is perfect, and you had your best sleep, but if the concept of the shoot is missing then everything will just fade out. 

So, to get beautiful results, communicate everything in a clear manner to your photographer. 

Have Some Samples in Your Mind

Show the photographers what exactly you are talking about. Brainstorming and benchmarking always work whenever you are going to do something for the first time.

Check-Recheck Your Calendar

Avoid giving your best at two places on the same day, whether for the headshot photography your meetings, appointments, or any other plan. No matter how good you look, if you are stressed about something, it will reflect on your face. And stress is something really unavoidable on a workday. 

Take Care of Your Skin 

Eat right, follow a schedule, and do skin care. Yes, we all have busy schedules, and on some, we barely have time to even look in the mirror for more than two minutes. But a week before your shoot, plan the days more and take care of your skin. Avoid acne breakouts or dullness due to exposure to pollution. Yes, marks can be hidden with makeup, but then even too much makeup will make your headshots look bad. 

Don't Overdo 

This point cannot be stressed enough! Just don’t overdo anything because you will end up spoiling everything. You are already the best version of yourself. You just need a little bit of makeup to enhance your looks. But at times, people and their makeup professionals overdo it. So it's important that not only you and the photographer but also the makeup person know how the look has to be. 

Make It Easy With InstaHeadshots

InstaHeadshots platform home page

So many tips, tricks, and critical points to remember, but what if there is a way to make all this easy and simple? 

What if I tell you that you can get your professional headshots in just a matter of minutes and that too without following any cumbersome or mundane process? Sounds good, right?

Your go-to solution to get a hassle-free headshot in just a few minutes is InstaHeadshots. 

By using AI, InstaHeadshots has made the process very seamless. All you have to do is dress up look in your front camera upload your selfie images and select what kind of look and style you want for the headshot. Trust me, you can even avoid dressing up and just post some random selfies on the platform and follow the mentioned instructions to get your professional AI headshot. 

Instaheadshot has different styles and pricing plans to offer. All you have to do is just select and choose. Just a few clicks, and there you go, 'your classic headshot' is ready.