What to Wear & What to Avoid for Headshots

There are not necessarily right or wrong suggestions for clothing or colors to produce a great portrait.

However, there are a few things to consider to help ensure its a great portrait for YOU


1)  Choose colors and styles that flatter you first and foremost.


2) Try on what you intend to wear to make sure it fits well, flatters your shape

and complements your skin or hair color. (Opt for fabrics that lay well, have structure and

don't look sloppy or wrinkle easily - like linen.)

3)  The camera loves layers.

Blazers, jewelry, sweaters, ties, scarves, coats etc. are a great easy on/easy off

option for variety.


Neutral tones such as gray, black, navy, ivory, white and soft blues are timeless and won't ever go out of style. 

Most people can wear 1-2 of these colors very well.  Additionally, softer pastels like blush can work for many women well and will help keep the photo bright and airy.

Clothing to Avoid

Don't wear colors that wash you out or styles that accentuate features or body parts you don't love as much.  For example, if you really don't care for your arms, or want them to appear thinner, wear 3/4 or full length sleeves instead of going sleeveless.

  • Avoid very strong patterns like bold, wide horizontal strips (those add weight)

  • Avoid busy animal prints (those can also add weight and distract from the face)

  • Avoid linen, it wrinkles upon touch and clothing wrinkles are very difficult to Photoshop out

  • Don't opt for sleeveless tops if you really dislike your arms

  •  Avoid very low cut tops if you prefer cleavage not to show

  • Neon colors photograph weird and will completely distract from your face

  • If your neck bothers you, consider a V-neck line to elongate it, or a high necked top (cowl neck) or scarf to help conceal it.

  • If you are trying to minimize weight, darker solid colors are always the best bet.


Strong colors, especially jewel tones, can really make the image pop, command attention and flatter your skin. Keep in mind that your eye may be pulled first to the color, and second to the face and eyes -- not necessarily a bad thing, unless you really want the attention going to your face & eyes first in a close up head shot.

Ladies Clothing

  • Choose colors that look best on you and flatter your skin tone. We recommend solids or very subtle patterns.

  • Neutral and soft colors are timeless, and bold jewel tones bring pop & energy.

  • Avoid strong patterns like big stripes, color blocked shirts & busy animal prints as they pull attention away from your face. Avoid neon colors; they photograph weird.

  • Avoid super low cut necklines if you don't want to reveal cleavage, and sleeveless tops if you don't like your arms.  Showing too much skin can steal attention from your face, and may bug you over the long term.

hair & makeup

  • The camera and lighting can wash you out, so we typically recommend slightly more makeup up than normal, especially at your lash line, cheeks and lips. But keep it so you are comfortable with your look.

  • For hair fly-aways and broken root pieces, we recommend hair spray or light weight gel to lay these down at the crown of the head. Back lighting can illuminate them and they are very difficult to Photoshop out.

  • Pay special attention to your mascara and eyeliner and clean up any smudges.

  • Best not to try a new hairstyle for a photoshoot. Wear it how you like it best.

Men's Clothing

  • Men typically wear a button up with or without a tie, and a jacket.  Many prefer to do a shot with the jacket & tie, and a few without for variety.

  • We recommend putting Visine in your eyes the morning of the shoot to help with redness and broken arteries.

  • Some men have very wayward or bushy eyebrows that they notice more in the final photos. We recommend using water or hairspray, or a light gel, to groom the strays and neaten them up a little.

Finishing Touches

  • If you wear transition glasses that go darker in the sunlight, consider a back up non-transition pair if possible.


  • Your nails may show in the photos, so consider having them groomed or done prior.

  • Right before the photos, apply a fresh coat of lipstick, powder away any shine, and comb your hair, or hairspray your roots.

  • Schedule photos for after your highlights or root touch ups are done, if possible.


  • Men and women can put Visine into their eyes the morning of the shoot to help brighten and whiten them


I have high key white, soft ivory, mottled gray and black backdrops available if you just need a clean, upper torso headshot.

High Key White

Soft Ivory Gray

Mottled Gray

Solid Black


lifestyle personal branding photo shoots

There is  no need to bring backdrops for lifestyle personal branding portrait shoots, because

nature, architecture and cool locations provide plenty of workable options!  

Approachable, fresh & fun "headshot" photos -- yet still professional!

Outfit Planning for Lifestyle Branding Sessions

  • Bring several outfits/options! I can help you choose from your wardrobe what might photograph best.

  • Bring layers - blazers, jean jackets, other outerwear, scarves, jewelry, etc

  • Bring a few staple accessories that could work well with your different looks

  • You can maximize different looks by changing just the top items (jeans or pants can be paired with different tops to give a variety of looks)

  • Bring some neutral colors as well as a few different colors that look great on you

  • Consider getting your makeup and hair professionally done, but it's not necessary. You can do your own; just wear 20-30% more to compensate for the camera washing you out a little. I suggest a stronger eye - somewhere between day time and night time looks. 


Here are some great YouTube video makeup tutorials for woman of all ages.

Group Photos with a Cohesive Look

When photographing smaller teams, you may consider having everyone coordinate by choosing 2-3 general colors to work from.

Though with larger groups, this may be difficult as individuals will want to wear specific colors that work best for them. 


Family & headshot branding photographer in Scottsdale & Phoenix Serving Arizona, California & beyond.

(602) 402-5600

All sessions by appointment only; please inquire here for availability.


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