A Guide To Headshot Dos and Don’ts.

Headshot Do's and Don'ts...

Every person is unique, which means that no two headshots are the same. It’s one of the things I love most about being a headshot photographer. Being able to create unique images that portray a person is a wonderful experience. It means that no two headshot sessions are the same.

There are a few guidelines, however, that you may want to consider if you’re looking at hiring a professional headshot photographer.

Do: Find a photographer who has a style you love.

There are plenty of photographers around. Each photographer has their own approach and style.

Look at their portfolios, read through their websites, and communicate via phone or email.

If you don’t like any of their photographs and expect them to photograph you in a different style, you may end up disappointed.

Looking for something in particular, and it’s not in their portfolio? You can always ask if they have examples and experience.

Melbourne actress smiling for a relaxed actor headshot. She wears a blue blazer and is in front of an earthy brown background in a studio.

Don't: Settle for an unplanned selfie

I’ve written about selfies a lot!

There technically isn’t anything wrong with a selfie if it’s executed well. All my headshots are self-portraits. The difference is, my headshots are still professional.

Ditch the shots that have your arm, the backseat of your car or your bathroom in the background, or shots with other people in them.

Your headshot is your chance to sell yourself.

An image from Photofeeler showing the results from a professional headshot: Competency at 9.1, likeability at 8.5, and influence at 8.5.

Do: Plan Your Outfits Ahead Of Time

Rushing around the hour before your headshot session is good for nobody!

Spend some time thinking about what colours and styles will look great. Chat with your chosen photographer about this, and consider how much of your body will be photographed. 

Ensure all of your clothes are crease-free, and bring them in on hangers.

Melbourne barrister headshot of man smiling to camera wearing a suit and tie.

Don't: Assume the photographer can photoshop the creases out of your clothing.

Photoshop is a wonderful tool, and many photographers are well-versed in the program. 

From the most sincere place in my heart, please don’t request we photoshop out the creases in your clothing because you didn’t iron them.

We can do subtle crease reduction here are there, but it will always look better (and will be better for our sanity) if your clothes are looking great straight out of camera.

Melbourne actress looks up at camera with a relaxed expression for a clean studio headshot.

Do: Communicate your wants with your photographer

Do you want a specific background? 
Need more body in your images?
Want to incorporate props or capture candid images?

All of this can make for a fun headshot session, but communication is key. Tell your photographer your ideas and show them reference images for what you like (include some of their portfolio too – that can help!). 

Melbourne business owner photographed in a candid and relaxed lifestyle portrait during an outdoor personal branding photoshoot.

Don't: Get caught up in replicating an exact image you've seen online

One thing I always tell my clients: “You may find a particular image in my portfolio that inspires you, but remember that someone else one day will look at yours as inspiration too”

Each of us is different, and that in itself is our strength.

You’ll never precisely replicate another image because your face and body are different. Not every item of clothing, background and lighting style will suit everyone.

So be open to trying new things and embrace the strengths your portraits have. 

Natural outdoor actor headshot taken at golden hour in melbourne's eastern suburbs. Woman wears a pale blue tshirt and smiles to camera with the wind blowing through her hair.

Do: Prepare your skin, hair and nails ahead of time.

Leading up to your headshot session, take care of yourself. Drink lots of water, eat a healthy diet and avoid foods that may cause you breakouts/rashes/bloating etc. 

Tend to your hair (touch up hair colour if you need, keep it washed), and your nails (clean and neutral is best). 

Melbourne business owner poses with spotlight effect for a personal branding portrait.

Don't: Shut Yourself Off (Communication Is Everything)

The best headshot sessions I have are the ones where my clients are happy to open up, communicate and have a conversation.

The more we can familiarise with each other, the more we can capture personality.

Melbourne actor laughs to camera on pink background in relaxed actor headshot.

There are lots of things to consider for your headshot session, and these things are just a starting point.

Check out my other tips and advice for more headshot preparation!

If you’re in Melbourne, let’s have a chat. I’d love to see how we can create images that not only make you look professional, but say something about who you are.

Published by

Julia Nance

Julia Nance is a headshot and portrait photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her vibrant creativity is inspired by her experiences. From photographing whales underwater to travelling in Europe. With a vast background in a range of photographic areas, it is Julia’s natural ability to connect with her subjects that ultimately drew her to the art of portraiture. Corporate Headshots | Personal Branding | Actor Headshots | LinkedIn Headshots |
Melbourne woman smiles to camera for a confident and relaxed corporate headshot.
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Melbourne actress angela laughs to camera in a studio actor headshot. She wears a navy collared shirt and is photographed on a navy background.

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