Tips for Headshots & Video

By: Lynne Marks | 19 Jan 2015

It’s a new year, and many people are looking ahead and planning what they want to accomplish in 2015. For some, it involves finding a new job or career. For others, it may involve continuing and growing on the career path they’ve chosen. Entrepreneurs, networkers, social media enthusiasts and jobseekers may find themselves needing a headshot or a video. Knowing how to dress for the camera is an invaluable skill.

linkedin Even something as simple as a LinkedIn profile image can benefit from a professional photo.


    • Choose a professional outfit that matches the industry, level or profession you are in, or applying for. Most photographers give you two looks for their basic fee and you can bring alternative outfits or tops to the shoot to try out different styles or colors.
    • Generally, an impeccably groomed suit in a crisp fabric is a good choice if necessary for the more formal photo. A less structured outfit such as a professional dress works well for a more casual image. Tailored clothing with a strong silhouette and a flattering collar is often very photogenic because the camera shows clothing as two-dimensional. Unconstructed clothing doesn’t frame your neck and face in the same way.
    • moireAvoid medium to large patterns, especially wide to fine stripes, plaid, checks or herringbone which quiver on camera and certainly detract from your face in a headshot.
    • Ensure your outfit is pressed and any inside and outside collars coordinate, matching in shape, style and color contrast.
    • Avoid turtlenecks that wipe out your neck! Although tops, shirts and low cut dresses that show cleavage can be distracting, V-necks are good choices because they elongate the neck.
    • Jewelry does help spike an outfit but don’t overdo the size. Avoid large-scale hoops, heavy and drop earrings or massive studs. For a professional look, choose a stud or a pearl earring about the same size as your pupil or iris. Long pendants hanging below the chest area will very likely be cropped out of the final version. A pearl, silver or gold chain with or without a short pendant visible at the neck and inside a shirt or suit collar helps bring the attention to the face without distracting.
    • Bright colors tend to work best in photos; light pastels and whites can wash out, or look transparent under certain photography flashbulbs. Warm colors such as salmon, coral, peach, light olive and teal green are flattering on video and look great to brighten up a black, charcoal or navy suit.
    • Gentlemen, make sure you wear a starched, straight collar, not a button-down that can strain over the tie and flick up at the peaks. Pinch a dimple under the knot and arch the tie slightly away from the chest. If you are not wearing a tie, make sure that the shirt collar stands firm around the neck and doesn’t slip, collapse or get buried into the jacket. Try magnetic collar studs made by Würkin Stiffs, which hold the shirt collar vertical and crisp.wurkin-stiffs-collar-stays

Good Examples:


Photo Credit Michelle Kaffko


Photo Credit Michelle Kaffko

Bad Examples:


Photo Credit Michelle Kaffko


Photo Credit Michelle Kaffko

Grooming and makeup

      • Women should wear their hair neatly and professionally. If you choose to wear it down, ensure it is styled in a way that doesn’t detract from or cover your face.
      • Long, medium or short hairstyles look best in a well-cut design, which holds its shape. Since photos and videos show the hairstyle as two-dimensional, avoid a style that’s scraped back tightly and makes your head appear too small. Some hair forming a halo around the face is flattering and a few rollers will lift the crown. Side parts that add width help bring volume and movement to the top and side of the face.
      • Men with facial hair should ensure their beard/mustache is trimmed and neat.
      • A professional makeup artist is the best option and some photographers include it in their headshot package. But a quick fix might be needed in certain situations.
      • Face makeup should look light but actually provide adequate coverage and a smooth finish. Makeup with mica, SPF and any light- reflective products can make the skin glow and tend to cause the skin to go white around the eyes with flash. The matte look is actually a better look for the camera and video.
      • chanelbrushApply foundations with a brush rather than a sponge. The finish is smoother and more even and the makeup isn’t absorbed into the brush allowing more product to reach the skin. Chanel and other brands make good foundation brushes.
      • Roseacea can be neutralized with a green toned concealer applied under the base. Bluish dark circles can be counteracted with a peachy concealer and purplish dark circles and age spots can be can be banished with a yellow concealer under the foundation. Kett cosmetics make an excellent line of multi-toned concealers.
      • Avoid silver based eye shadows as they can catch the light unevenly and make the skin look older. Keep the eye shadow coverage light and in a neutral tone such as taupe or beige. Video shows up every line so you can never blend enough times to create a look more like the petal of a flower than the “painted on by numbers” approach.
        Photo Credit Michelle Kaffko

        Photo Credit Michelle Kaffko

      • A matte soft beige or taupe contour can be applied under the cheekbone but no closer in than two vertical fingers placed alongside the nose. Blend the contour color with a light pink or peach sheen blush brushed over the ball of the cheekbone.
      • Powder helps hold the makeup, takes away the shine and prolongs the wear. Men should consider using a translucent powder as well for a smooth matte finish.
      • If the resting face has fullness under the chin and jaw line, place the contour shade under not on the jaw line. Before the shot is taken, rest the chin on the chest and then lift and jut the chin out slightly to minimize the fullness.
      • Keep in mind that professional photographers generally retouch headshots as part of their headshot package. If you have a specific blemish or area that you are concerned about, find out prior to using gobs of makeup to cover it, if it is easier to retouch the blemish afterwards.


Body Language
The photographer should be expert at posing you in the most flattering way but a few tips will be useful.

      • Never cross your arms in a headshot as crossed arms are a barrier and denote unfriendliness and even aggression.
      • In a headshot, if the body is turned or tilted away from the camera make sure the eyes are towards the camera. The gaze must be steady and the smile genuine and friendly, hitting the eyes. Eye contact is your most powerful tool and people read the expression of the eyes like a book. They are scrutinizing for two human dimensions of power: approachability and credibility or authority.
      • The best headshots are cropped mid chest so that the attention is on the face. Even so, lift your ribcage and relax your neck shoulders. Do some shoulder and neck exercises before the session to avoid stiffness and rigid muscles.


With these easy tips in mind, you will ensure a great photograph that represents you in a professional way, ready for everything from your LinkedIn profile to a company directory.

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