Head Shot Do’s and Dont’s

I get a lot of traffic on this blog from people looking for information about “head shots” for business cards. I have accompanied a lot of clients for their head shots, but having never had to pose for one the following are some theoretical do’s and don’ts.


  1. Convey a relaxed, candid, warm, open, honest image.
  2. Choose from at least 10 photos and narrow your choice down to the two best.
  3. Look straight at the camera unless the photographer recommends an angle.
  4. Avoid busy patterns and lines/stripes.
  5. Have a warm smile, not a laugh. Think you are greeting an old friend.
  6. Take two or three changes of clothing so you can experiment with contrasting colors.
  7. Try to dress as you would walking down the street on a business day.
  8. Bring samples of head shots you like.
  9. Tell the photographer the image you are trying to convey.
  10. Practice poses and expressions in front of a mirror before the shoot
  11. Dark clothes attract less attention and put the attention on your face and eyes..

This is an example of what picture can look like when it is cropped properly.

Woman 2 Woman 2 Cropped Woman 2 Cropped Smaller

Don’ts: These are general rules of thumb and not written in stone.

  1. No crossed-arms.
  2. Don’t get a new hair cut just before the shoot.
  3. No props like sold signs, dogs, horses, cell phones or hats.
  4. Don’t act like someone you are not.
  5. Do not drink alcohol or take any drugs directly before or the night before your shoot. If possible, do not smoke cigarettes directly before your shoot.
  6. Don’t wear white unless you wear it underneath something.
  7. Do not try/use any new product on your hair, face or body the day before or few days before your shoot.
  8. Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated.
  9. Don’t overdress.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Thea Wood says:

    Thank you! I’m an image consultant and this is a helpful checklist for my clients. I’ll be referring them to it! You can check out my blog at http://www.austinthea.wordpress.com.

  2. Hi, I’m a headshot photographer, and I thought to share a gross overview of different styles of headshots. http://vimeo.com/33093714

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