Portrait & Headshot Session Guidelines & Tips


First things first

Whether you’ve had your photo taken professionally dozens of times or you hate the camera and this just feels like a necessary evil, I promise I’ll make it painless and fun. It will undoubtedly be awkward at some point. You might feel goofy or silly, but if you follow these tips to help you get yourself in the right mindset, feel good and look great, you’re going to LOVE your shots.

Day-Of Checklist

  1. Drink water. (I mean it! It helps!)

  2. After you’ve had that water, hit the restroom before leaving for the shoot.

  3. While in the restroom, take a quick look in the mirror and remind yourself that you look fantastic.

  4. Remember that this is going to be fun!

  5. Bring water with you (especially 60-90min sessions)

  6. Text Alena to confirm time and place if she hasn’t already reached out to you


Style & Grooming


Recommended Choices

Solid, Mid-tone Colors or Jewel Tones: typically this will be your best choice as they are not distracting and are universally flattering and bring out your eye colors (blue, green, wine and purple).

Textured materials: Materials with some texture can create some interest without being too distracting, so fine or medium knits will work really well.

Collared Shirts: A collared shirt by itself can also frame the face really well.

Modest V-necks and Simple Necklines:  V-necks are typically the most flattering, but any simple neckline will do as it draws more attention to the face.

Jackets/Sweaters: These create a nice professional look. If you choose to wear a jacket, pair it with a collarless top (for women), as it keeps the neckline simple and sleek.

Simple Jewelry, Watches: This creates a nice accent and a natural, polished, and professional look, regardless of your field.

Statement Accessory or Makeup: In general, I recommend keeping it simple, however(!), if your style typically includes big earrings or a bold lip color, then go for it! If you want to try a few with a scarf or your glasses, and a few without, we can work with that, too.

Natural Looking Beauty/Grooming:  This shoot should reflect you, so I would recommend sticking to your usual style. You want to look recognizable! Professional makeup It is not at all required and any skin blemishes and wrinkles can be retouched if requested. For men, depending on your profession, make sure you are clean-shaven or touched up enough to be proud of your photos.

Whiten Teeth: If you want to whiten your teeth before your session, start as early as possible and use a natural whitening method, or have your teeth whitened with your dentist. A quick emergency whitening method that works for many people is to mix some toothpaste with about 1 teaspoon of baking soda. (Don’t do this regularly!)

Haircut/Blowout: Not at all necessary, but if it makes you feel polished and comfortable for your photos, today’s the day to book an appt at DryBar or get a clean up at your barber. Make sure to make your appointments early!

Nail Care: They don’t need to be painted, but smooth, filed, and dirt free nails will make you feel more confident. While most headshots will be shoulders-up, we might do a few shots seated with hands exposed.

Hydrate & Get Some Rest: Water & Sleep are your best friend the night before this shoot! Your skin will glow and your eyes will shine!

Choose your outfit early: Shoot me at text or email about it if you have outfit questions! Happy to help1

MAYBE NOT (but it’s up to you!)

Flesh tones, Bright Red or Orange: Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones, red, or orange colors, as they will blend your face into your clothes, and pass on bright red or orange as they can overwhelm the image.

Patterns & Prints: Avoid patterns or prints that will distract from your face or potentially date your photo.

Silk: Avoid silk as the shine may create some bright spots that distract from your face.

Short sleeves/sleeveless: Try to stay away from short sleeves or tank tops as professional headshots tend to look better without bare arms.

Flashy Jewelry/Accessories: You’re the star of this photo, and we want it to be about your expression and energy. If the accessory fits that, then by all means. Otherwise, opt not to include this in your wardrobe choice for the day.

Asymmetrical or varied Necklines: Keep it simple, or it may distract from your face.

Overdoing Your Makeup: Just because we’re taking your photo doesn’t mean you need to put pressure on yourself and accidently overdo it on makeup! Relax, you’re going to look great.

Last Minute Grooming: If you are going to do anything on your face (eyebrows, haircut, mustache, etc.) or on any other exposed part of your body, do so a day or two before so that in case there are any issues, redness, swelling, or anything else that you have time to assess anything and make sure you’re comfortable coming to the shoot!

Pulled back hair: Unless it’s your usual style to keep your hair back in a bun or pony, let your locks be seen!

Stress too much about your wardrobe or the way your hair falls: We’re going to make your face the focus, so just wear whatever you’re going to feel at ease in.

Worry about a blemish: If there’s anything you’re concerned about let me know, and I can look out for it in retouching.

Go to a late Happy Hour the night before: We all know we don’t always look our best after a night out. You’re investing in photos and I want you to love them, so treat yourself to a good night’s sleep and some H2O.

Panic the morning-of because you’re not sure what to wear: Forget about it. You’re going to look great.