Tips and Advice for Portraits


Portraits are not just for actors and models anymore, no matter what line of work you’re in, if you are promoting yourself….you need some. You need a strong set of photographs that encompass you as an individual and represent your personality through the photos. You want to make a statement, you want people to remember you, you want to make an impression. With all the copious amounts of social media out there today and all the thousands of photos of people streaming the web, your head shot needs to look professional and really stand out in order to make people remember you and your business. On the flip side–I can’t tell you how many online dating profile shots make me wonder why they chose that photo to make a first impression to their potential new partner! General rule of thumb for many things in life, you attract what you put out there. Plain and simple.

For those of you who aren’t used to getting your photo taken on the regular, getting some professional photos done can be really intimidating! Anyone can have cousin benny take some photos of you with his point and shoot and put them online after a quick edit. But will he capture genuine expressions? Flattering angles with the camera? The right looks for what you need the photos for? The right wardrobe choices? Probably not. And that’s why it’s always a good idea to have your head shots taken by a professional.

The goal of a great head shot is to look professional and refined. You want to look like the best possible version of yourself. That only comes with feeling natural and comfortable with your photo shoot and your photographer. It takes skill and talent to get the proper lighting, sharp focus, and expert composition. And lets not forget the post editing on your images, color correction and retouching make a huge difference in the final product. You want to do your research and find a photographer who’s style you like, who’s personality you connect with. The session should be fun and relaxed and the photographer should be easy to work with.

How often should I get new pictures taken? Whenever your appearance changes substantially. It is important that your headshot looks like you on your best day. If you change hairstyles, gain or lose weight, or feel you’re looking more mature, it is probably time to update your headshot.

Below are some tips and advice to make your shoot go as smoothly as possible. The more prepared you are the better your photos will turn out and the happier you will be with the end result! ;)


Take a look at my Pinterest Board on Head Shots for inspiration on poses, looks, and what to wear!


General Tips

  • Tell me your expectations and intentions. Let me know what kind of look you want for your photos.
  • Tell me how and where the photo will be used so I can make sure your photos are appropriate.
  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and make you feel confident. You don’t want to be re-adjusting  or fidgeting through the entire shoot!
  • Drink lots of water and be well rested (so your eyes will not be puffy or have dark circles).
  • Your skin might not look it’s best after a night of drinking with friends, so try to abstain from wild nights before your shoot.


What to wear – Men:

  • The standard business look is a suit jacket, dress shirt and tie.
  • The business casual look is taking over the business world. This look conveys professionalism and class while making you seem approachable and relaxed. Take a look at this Fashion Beans article on doing it right.
  • Clothes should be neatly pressed and should look new or like new.
  • Choose colors that bring out your features like your deep green or wavy brown hair.
  • Make sure your jacket and shirt fit you well. A poor fitting jacket or shirt will be obvious in the photos (especially around the neck).
  • For a no-jacket casual look, bring colored shirts – ideally darker than your skin tone.
  • A white or light blue dress shirt by itself do not play well into the camera – unless you plan to wear it underneath something (jacket or sweater).
  • Bring a few different jackets, shirt colors shoes, and ties so we have choices for your session.
  • Layer, Layer, Layer! Adding layers adds depth and makes your look more interesting and less one dimensional. It also gives us more options and combinations to play with.


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What to wear – Women:

  • Avoid big prints, busy patterns, and bright overpowering colors.
  • Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Try a variety different shirts/blouses to see what works best.
  • Choose clothing that is somewhat fitted. Believe it or not, no one looks good in a moomoo, baggy blouse, or ruffles up to their nose. ;)
  • For a no-jacket casual look, bring various colored blouses – ideally darker than your skin tone.
  • Choose fabrics with texture like silk, knits, herringbone, and tweed.
  • Layer, Layer, Layer! Adding layers adds depth and makes your look more interesting and less one dimensional. It also gives us more options and combinations to play with.
  • Remember: Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable! Select something that makes you look and feel good.
  • Wear/bring outfits that fit what you need the photos for. What you’re wearing should not only represent your personal style, but should also be a good fit for the aim of the photoshoot


Are you going for a more polished standard business look?


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Or are you a creative professional going for a more casual look?


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  • Keep jewelry extremely simple – small is better. Think minimalistic. 
  • Stick with ALL gold or ALL silver.
  • Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated.
  • Remember: The picture is about your face, not your jewelry.


What to bring:

  • Photos from your previous session so we can improve (if you have them).
  • Sample photos to help communicate the look you want. Feel free to put together a Pinterest board or email some examples.
  • Various changes of clothing and shoes.
  • Lip balm, hair brush/comb.
  • Makeup and hair products you prefer.
  • A mirror, bobby pins, a hair tie.
  • Mom or your best friend! Seriously. ;) They will put you at ease, help me get some genuine moments, and fix/adjust you as needed!


Hair and Makeup Tips:

  • This one is important: Do not get a fresh hair cut right before your shoot. Get it at least a week before to give your hair some time to relax into the style
  • Make-up should be understated and natural. I have an amazing referral list of hair and makeup professionals who can take care of you the day of your session so you can relax and enjoy the day!
  • Wear a heavy layer of translucent powder – your face will appear flawless in photos. Shine disappears, pores seem smaller, skin looks even, and blush is smoother.
  • Line lips before applying matte lipstick, then reline. Don’t overdo it. Dip a cotton bud in powder and run along lip line to prevent color from bleeding.
  • Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine. Avoid bright colors.


Well that’s all for now. I hope this advice was helpful and gave you some food for thought. I want your shoot to be as fun and successful as possible!

Check out some head shots by Sasha Reiko Photography. Let me know if you’d like to schedule a shoot! You can contact me HERE. ;)