10 Tips to Ensure You’ll Get a Great Women’s Headshot

Nowadays everyone needs a headshot.  LinkedIn, Facebook, and company websites put your image out there.  You want to put your best face forward…LITERALLY!

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the best women’s business headshot possible.

1. Tweezers, waxing, and threading are your friends. A few days before your session you should spend some quality time with a mirror and a set of tweezers to make sure that your eyebrows are well-shaped. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, try going to your local salon to have your eyebrows waxed or threaded.  You will be amazed at how this simple trick really makes your eyes pop in a photo. Do not tweeze or wax the morning of your session as you may end up with some redness and irritation that may not clear up in time for your photo.

2. Make a visit your colorist and/or hair stylist. Usually we look our best when we have recently had a haircut.  Roots should be touched up as well if you regularly color your hair. Don’t do a drastic change, you still want to look like YOU. If possible, have your hair blown out and styled right before your shoot so that you can look like you were ready to film a Pantene commercial.

3. Makeup is essential. Even if you normally don’t wear any makeup on a day to day basis, a little goes a long way in a headshot, and here’s why. Photos are 2 dimensional, they are flat. In real life we see each other in 3 dimensions. Makeup in photos helps to give your face dimension and definition. Additionally the lights that are used during shoots are very powerful. They can make you look shinier than you really are. At a minimum you should have on some translucent powder. Many photographers will have this in their studio to apply to their clients right before they take their photos. This will cut down the forehead and nose shine everyone wants to avoid. If you don’t regularly wear makeup, I highly suggest getting your makeup done professionally right before the shoot. This can cost anywhere between $50-$300 depending on the experience level of the makeup artist and the type of makeup application you are having applied. For example, air brush makeup application is more expensive. Be sure to tell your makeup artist that you are looking for a professional daytime look. You want to still look like you, just the best possible version of you. If you can’t afford a makeup artist practice your makeup a few days in advance. Be sure to use an eye lash curler and some mascara. It will really open up your eyes and make your lashes look longer without the need for false lashes.

Joanna Mastroianni Fall 2013 Winter 2014 Collection shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City images by Vail Fucci makeup by Kryolan

4. Check yourself out. Take a moment in front of a mirror to see if everything looks in the right place.  Do you have anything in your teeth? Is your bra strap showing?  Is your hair the way you like it? Is your necklace centered.  Once you enter your session, be sure to ask your photographer to confirm if everything looks right, no big wrinkles on your clothes, etc. 

5. Sit up straight.  You want to look confident in your headshot.  The easiest way to do that is by making sure you are exercising good posture.  Keeping your shoulders down and relaxed in your photo is the quickest way to look like you lost a few pounds instead of gained some in your photo. Scrunched up shoulders make your neck look thicker. Even if the photographer asks you to lean forward, keep your back straight and your shoulders down.  Bend at the hips instead of hunching over.

6. Avoid the dreaded double chin look.  When people try to sit up straight they often drawn their chin in towards their neck. This gives them the look of a double chin. To fix this problem you just need to remember “chin forward and down.” This handy technique borrowed from the fashion industry (Tyra called it doing the turtle) will give you a defined jawline and get rid of the appearance of a double chin by engaging your neck muscles. The video below demonstrates how to do this. Practice it in the mirror a few days before your photo session to really get it down. It feels strange as you are doing it, but believe me, it looks great!

7. Try different smiles. During your session try a variety of looks.  Start with your traditional big picture smile, then switch it up to serious, then smile but with your mouth closed and no teeth showing at all.  Then a little bit of teeth showing.  Then a great big toothy grin.  If you have a gap, or crooked or missing teeth, don’t be afraid to smile with your teeth showing.  Your photographer should know different techniques to minimize attention on these areas while still maintaining the approachability that a full smile results in.


8. Talk to your photographer before your shoot about your brand. Professional images are for your brand, so that means you are trying to communicate something specific.  The clothes you pick to wear, the background for your image, your expression, and the lighting style all reflect on your brand and the way you will be perceived. Are you trying to look conservative? Edgy? Approachable? Powerful? Tell your photographer what the photos are going to be used for. If it is for your website the color you pick for your background should work well with the color scheme of your site. It is always better to figure this out BEFORE your shoot instead of after.

9. Choose the proper attire. Your face needs to be the main focus of the image, not your clothes. Stay away from big distracting patterns. Solids tend to be a good choice. Discuss with the photographer before your shoot what background you plan to have in the shot and what color outfits might compliment it best. Find out if there is a specific dress code you need to adhere to. Try on your outfits several days in advance to make sure you are comfortable with your choice of clothing. If you have gained or lost weight take this opportunity to get some new items that fit you perfectly. Clothes that are too tight restrict your movement while posing and ones that are too big can make you look disheveled. Have the items cleaned and pressed or ironed so there are no wrinkles. Choose a top or dress that is not too low cut and that doesn’t risk showing your bra straps. Avoid over accessorizing. Necklaces should not be too long or else they risk being cut off at the bottom of the frame of the image. Avoid sleeveless shirts, they take the attention away from your face. Long sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves are preferable.

10. Find the right photographer for you and trust them. Before you book your headshot be sure to check out your photographer’s portfolio. See if their style gels with what you are looking for. Then check for good reviews. Personal referrals are always the best. Once you know you are in good hands the day of your shoot you will need to trust your photographer. When you sit down, or stand up, for your session the photographer is likely to tell you to turn your head and body in ways you think can’t possibly look good.  Surprisingly though, what feels totally strange actually looks great in a headshot.  People have the tendency to lean back away from the camera, this leads to the photographer seeing right up your nose. That’s why they tell you to lean forward.  So just know you are in good hands and that the best way to get a great shot is to listen to what the photographer tells you do do and to trust that he or she know what they are doing. Their job is to make you look your best.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Ed

    Nice portfolio and tips…

  2. Teresa Rou

    Love the tutorial for avoiding a double chin! I don’t have much time to practice, as my headshot is tomorrow, so hope i can pull it off! Thanks so much!!

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