You’ve seen those pics of Kentucky Derby attendees, bright floral spring dresses for women topped off those amazing wide brimmed Southern Belle hats that block the view of least 3 rows behind. The British refer to that style hat as a “fascinator,” a very appropriate term. And the men don’t miss the party either with floral print suit coats, bright ties, and often tall hats. I can understand the fun in dressing like this especially for the spring’s most famous party.
But headshots call for a different approach. As I have said earlier, the real estate in a headshot photo is very limited. The suggested size for your LinkedIn or Facebook profile photos is around 400 by 400 pixels. That is a pretty small area and it should be used wisely. The most important feature of your headshot is your expression and it should be the first thing that catches the viewer’s eye.
So, this brings us to clothing, one of the primary items in a headshot that can either enhance or detract from your expression. A good headshot photographer will ask you to bring more than one or two tops, often as many as 5 or 6, to your headshot session. You do not need to bring different changes of clothing for anything below the waist. Be sure and wear comfortable pants and shoes as you will probably be in a standing pose for most of the session.
From those choices, the photographer will help you select the outfit which will not only photograph best, but which will best express the purpose of your headshot/s. A favorite catch phrase used by photographers is, “If you don’t bring the outfit, I can’t photograph you in it.” So, be sure include at least one or two of your favorite outfits. But don’t be disappointed if the photographer nixes one of your favorites. Trust their judgement having photographed hundreds of different outfits.
Often the photographer will offer sessions that include two or three looks. This means that the photographer will photograph you in two or three different outfits giving you a variety of headshots which can be used for different purposes, say LinkedIn and a dating website.
The photographer will give you guidelines to help you select the clothing choices to bring to the session. As far as fit, your selections should be comfortable, not too loose and not too tight. Also, your clothing should be well pressed. Wrinkles are distracting and a pain to remove in retouching. The photographer will often have a steamer on hand in the studio to remove any wrinkles, but you don’t want to let wrinkle removal cut too much into your time in front of the camera.
Color is another choice. Often neutral colors photograph well by not detracting from your face and expression. Again, the choice will depend on the purpose of your headshot. A CEO from a conservative industry will probably have a very different color choice that an aspiring actor or model. Be sure and bring outfits in a couple of your favorite colors but remember to follow the photographer’s expertise as to how well the color will photograph. And it is also best to avoid busy or large patterns as the eye will go to the pattern first, not your face and expression. Small patterns can work well though. I have learned a lot about selecting the best clothing for headshots from Mike Schacht, one of the mentors on Headshot Crew. Check out Mike’s website for some great examples.
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