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Preparing for Your Headshot

How to Prepare for your Headshot

My primary goals are to create a headshot that flatters you and reflects who you are. Most of the success of your headshot depends on the skill of your photographer, but there are a few things you can do to set us both up for success. The following are tips and advice for your portrait session.


When selecting your wardrobe options for your headshot, first consider what image you want to project. What would you typically wear to an important meeting? This would probably be a good choice for your headshot. For men, this might be a suit jacket and (maybe) a tie, and for women, you have a few more options, such as a shirt and jacket, a dress, or an interesting top.

If you work in a creative industry or are self-employed, you might choose more interesting and on-trend styles. Look to others in your field or similar to see what works, and use your discretion.

It's best to narrow down your options ahead of time so that we don't need to use too much of your shoot time going over wardrobe, so if you need assistance, send photos by email or text ahead of time, and I will give you some feedback on what works best.

I recommend you choose one main look, and if time allows, we may be able to shoot a second or even a third top. For men, this might be as simple as taking off your tie or jacket, but you might also consider changing into a more casual shirt or sweater. For women, you might bring an alternate top or put on a blazer or cardigan. Consider what purposes you will be using this headshot for (LinkedIn, company website, presentations, blog, something else?), and let that guide you. For a shoot with multiple outfits and background changes, consider booking a longer Branding Portrait with us.

What colors work best on camera? You might choose a color that flatters you, or something more neutral for your portraits. Jewel tones and muted colors are good options for most people. Though not an absolute rule, I typically recommend against very bright colors because they can reflect back onto your skin and alter your natural skin tone. Look for fabrics that have texture! Black and white both work well, but if your very light or very dark fabrics have some texture to them, this is ideal.

Necklines have a large impact on how you look in your portrait. A lower neckline can elongate your neck, but you want to make sure your portrait is tasteful. An interesting neckline like a mock neck, crew neck, or turtleneck can be flattering.

I recommend against wearing something sleeveless unless you are very athletic or this is part of your work dress.

Choose something that fits you very well. Try everything on in front of a mirror, and move around a little bit—check to see if your clothing creates any unflattering gaps or wrinkles as you move. Wear appropriate undergarments that create a flattering, smooth shape.

Make sure your clothing is steamed or pressed, and try your best to remove any lint, loose threads, or tags ahead of time. Our camera picks up a lot of detail, so if you show up with wrinkles, they will be apparent in your portraits.

For jewelry, I recommend simple, subtle, or no jewelry. Classic styles like small hoops or studs work well. However, if statement jewelry is part of your everyday signature style, bring a couple of your favorite pieces and we will work them in.

If you wear glasses, we can try some with and some without. Up to you! I will make sure there is no glare in your lenses.

Corporate Photography & Professional HeadshotsHair & Makeup

I highly recommend hiring a makeup artist for women's headshot sessions. This is especially important if you do not usually wear makeup and don't have much experience with things like eyeliner and lashes. I have a list of recommendations that can come to you or do your makeup at my studio (depending on the timing of your shoot - due to COVID, I am unable to overlap makeup and shoots for the time being). This usually costs between $125-250 and takes about 45 minutes.

If you choose to DIY your makeup, you should be a person with a good amount of skills and experience doing your own makeup. Plan to wear a little more makeup than you would wear for a typical workday. Make sure to wear well-defined eye makeup, and I usually recommend lashes for a polished look (there is a range of lash options, from subtle to dramatic). You will want your foundation to be a great match for your current skin tone (skin tones change from summer to winter and from year to year, so check ahead of time in bright natural light). If you haven't had your skin tone matched in a while, now is the time to visit your local makeup store (e.g., Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom) to check in. Add some color and definition with blush, bronzer, and/or highlighter. Bring your makeup (especially lip color) with you for touchups. If you tend to be shiny, bring powder.

Hair should be done in your usual style. Bring styling products, such as hairspray, and a brush or comb for touchups. If you color your hair, make sure to have your roots touched up no more than 1-2 weeks before your session date (if this isn't possible, root touchup spray or powder is your best friend!).

Need hair help? Most makeup artists will add curl or light hairstyling on request, or make an appointment at your favorite salon or blowout bar before your session. Please keep in mind that your headshot session is not the best time to try a completely new look—you will want to love your style and feel like yourself.

Grooming for Men

Men, you should get a haircut about a week before your session. If you wear a beard, make sure it is well-groomed. If you are clean-shaven, shave the day of your session. Bring hair styling products and a brush or comb. Consider wearing translucent powder on your skin if you tend to be shiny.

© 2019 Missy Timko Photography www.missytimko.com


I will use soft lighting and flattering poses to bring out the best in you. However, with high-resolution imagery and large computer screens, images generally require some retouching for a high-end look. I use the most advanced retouching techniques for an undetectable, yet polished effect.

Retouching service includes removing blemishes, flakes, flyaways, and background distractions. We can also soften facial lines and enhance your shape. If you require additional retouching because of unmatched foundation, wrinkled clothing, or other issues of unpreparedness, we can touch up all of these things for an additional fee. Please bring up any specific retouching concerns at your session so that you can make any special requests at that time, and I will do my best to accommodate you.

Expression & Posing

It is important that you feel relaxed and confident at your photo shoot. Practice in the mirror or take a few selfies and examine what you love most about yourself in terms of expression. Think about how you want to come across in these images—what do you want clients and colleagues to know about you? Generally, a relaxed, confident, approachable smile works well, so we will do some smiling portraits for you to review. We will also try some poses where you have a relaxed or serious expression with little or no smile. You will have the option to choose your favorite expressions for your final images.

If there is something you don't like about yourself, tell me! For example, I have had clients who feel insecure about a discolored tooth or about putting on weight. If I know there is something you don't like, I can pay special attention to downplaying that feature or we can address it in retouching.

Angle is another important consideration. Most people have an angle at which they look their best. If you know this angle already, tell me! We will try a number of different angles, poses, and expressions at your session so that we can learn what best flatters you on camera. I will direct you through the entirety of your session, so leave this part to me!

If there is a specific pose or style you like for your headshot, please make sure to share this with me in advance of your session so I can be prepared when you arrive.

I can help!

Some of my clients have a clear idea of what they want to wear and how to handle hair & makeup, but most need a little help! Please feel free to email or text me snapshots of your outfit ideas, or to request a list of hair & makeup artists that I recommend.



Our clients say their headshot sessions with us were easy, fun, and relaxing.
Try to prepare by planning a great outfit and planning ahead for hair & makeup, so that once you show up, you can just be yourself and leave the rest to our team!

Missy Timko Photography | info@missytimko.com | 412-559-3889