Professional Headshots – What to wear, what not to wear, and why your professional headshot is so important?

Why your professional headshot is important?

Professional Headshots are what business cards used to be: necessary in our digital world. Before you even make it to the job interview, the people you are meeting with have an idea of what you look like and how you present yourself because they have seen your profile on LinkedIn with your professional headshot.  If you do not yet have a professional headshot on your LinkedIn profile, get one as soon as possible.

First impressions are digital now, so we need to make sure that we look our best in the first place we are seen – our profile photos.  Although your career highlights are vital, the first thing someone sees when they review your profile is your professional headshot, and an immediate unconscious opinion is made.  

Studies have shown that LinkedIn profiles with professional headshots are viewed up to 21 times more than those without and acquire nine times more connections.

Your professional headshot should be representative of who you are and what your personality is about.

Having professional headshots for LinkedIn is critical. You want to look your best when you are trying to establish a new connection and when growing your professional network.  Prospective employers often check the profiles and accounts of their prospective employees. A professional headshot speaks of your professionalism and your determination to invest in your image. People also feel more comfortable when you request a connection and they see that they do recognize the person trying to connect, and if you having a meeting with someone you’ve met through LinkedIn, they will recognize you when you arrive.

Social Media
Do not discount your social media pages as well. Prospective or current employers may visit your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Take advantage of your session and include a less formal, but professional headshot for those accounts as well.

Below are some tips to help you better prepare for your session to create the perfect corporate headshot for LinkedIn. 

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  • Have your hair done prior to your headshot appointment. This is something that you probably won’t do again for a while, so it’s better to get it right rather than doing it twice.  If you have long hair, don’t tie it back, let it fall naturally – a little hair along the sides of your face to make a nice frame.  
  • Visiting a professional make-up artist will bring things up to the next level, but is not necessary.


  • The classic red tie and blue shirt look will portray the “power look” that has been around for decades. The sharp contrast between the two is perfect for a nice leading line to the face.
  • If you prefer to stand out a bit more, wearing a well-cut gray jacket will make you stand out in all the right ways. With crisp lines, it will complement the standard gray or white background and add a little bit of life to your headshot.
  • Bold, well-spaced stripes can work well. A blue and red or red and blue tie will contrast well and will compliment your photo. Skip anything that has a graphic text or bold patterns. Do not wear Slogans and logos as they will be obscured or cut off by the camera and any excessive patterning will distract from you, the subject of the portrait.
  • Avoid something that looks seasonal as you will be using this headshot in December as well as July.
  • Consider a solid color shirt or blouse rather than one that has graphic text or a bold pattern.
  • Wear Neutral, solid colors to avoid the risk of unintended lighting effects. There are light neutrals, like cream and white, and dark neutrals, like black and navy. You can also go with a bold color if it suits your personality. Bold colors around the neckline draw attention to the face.
Example of a neutral color professional suite worn in a professional headshot


  • Busy patterns – these will be distracting in the photo when the focus should be on you.
  • Overly bright colors –  Men, leave the salmon and yellow ties at home.  Women, leave the bright uber saturated blouses in the closet.  Those excessively bright and very saturated colors can do two things in photos. One, they can thoroughly washout, and suddenly your yellow tie will become a very distracting highlight on the image. Two, the overly saturated bright colors will become distracting by drawing attention to what you are wearing rather than you.
  • Men – Know what tie works for the shirt you plan on wearing.  Beyond color, make sure you wear the proper shirt for the type of tie you are wearing.  If you are wearing a wide-collared shirt, make sure to have a nice wide tie as well. 
  • Women – Keep the jewelry simple.  More often than not, this portrait will be cropped pretty tight. Leave the statement necklace at home.
  • Skip the seasonal clothes.  As mentioned earlier, but worth the reminder. Women, you are usually in the clear on this one, but mind the scarf you are wearing (if you wear scarves.)  Men –  Leave the seasonal tie at home. 
  • Skip the blue shirt with the white collars.
  • Unfitted Shirts – Buy a fitted shirt. A shirt too big will be noticeable around the collar causing unflattering shadows or bright spots.
  • Avoid short sleeves.  If you are wearing short sleeves, the tops of your arms may creep in and stand out. Long serves are a must. To step-up your game, grab a nice blazer for the occasion.
  • The Moire Effect – Moire is an undesirable photography effect that can occur when one or more repeating patterns are present in a photo. It’s recognizable by the distinct blurry, wavy attribute that happens in the photo wherever the pattern is visible. Shirts and jackets are two of the most common items in photography that produce this effect. Avoid heavily patterned fabrics, whether it be a shirt, jacket or accessory, like a scarf or tie. You can ensure no moire ends up in your photo by sticking completely to solid colors.
Moire effect
  • Plan for contrast – Some companies prefer black and white headshots. Consider planning for contrast and tonality to avoid an effect where the various photo elements appear one shade of gray.
  • Your profession – Some industries require more formality than others. In real estate, for instance, you’ll almost always see people wearing business professional attire in headshots, likewise with attorneys. Other industries, however, may not require that same level of formality.

Some final advice

  • Those who wear glasses to work daily should also wear them in their headshot.
  • Bring more than one outfit. For example, if your blouse looks dull under studio light, you can change into a more vivid shirt.
  • Fabrics – Bringing outfits in a wide range of fabrics is also beneficial because some fabrics may appear too thin and revealing under bright lights, and others look thick and bulky. It’s good to give yourself options to choose from while on set.

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