Corporate Headshots and how to prepare.

October 13, 2021

How to prepare for your Corporate Headshot

A Corporate Headshot has one main goal and that is to a convey professionalism. This is often accomplished through the specific posing, setting, facial expression, and clothing.   But remember you need to feel comfortable in your look it will show if you don't.
Follow these tips for your business headshot and you will be one step to success.

Contrast with Your Skin Tone

As a general rule, professional portraits look best when your skin tone, your clothing and your backdrop all contrast. When choosing what colors to wear, make sure the color is significant
ly darker or lighter than your skin tone so you don’t look nude from afar. If possible to create a great monochromatic headshot as well, but make sure you let your photographer know beforehand so we can advise you on your best options.

An example of a awesome choice of colours for a white background.Corporate HeadshotAn example of a awesome choice of colours for a white background.

Coordinate to the background 

Find out what your background will be before you pick your clothing. Is the background is white or light? Consider medium to dark colors and tones for more contrast. If the background is black or very dark, you can wear light or vivid colors. I usually recommend against white clothing because the eye is drawn to the lightest thing in the photo. We photograph using both black and white backgrounds in our 30 minute session but can accommodate other colors.

Wardrobe for Men

  • Shirts - Avoiding a plain white shirt works best but try to stay away shirts with patterns or strips solid colours only. 
  • Suit/Jackets - As for the suit or jacket dark greys, black, navy blue and very subtle pinstripe are fine but stay away from gridlines patterns as they tend to stand out on camera.  Think classic and choose a well-fitting suit that doesn’t bunch up when you button up or when you sit down. 
  • Ties - Ties look best when their tone lands between the suit and the shirt– so a light shirt, a dark s
    uit, and a tie in a shade somewhere between them. Some ties are too shiny– try to stay away from really reflective, shiny, silk ties.  Subtle patterns are ok but no bold patterns; solid colours are fine, if it works well with the shirt and suit.  A sample of a great choice in shirt and tie for a Corporate HeadshotPeter Roger Corporate HeadshotA sample of a great choice in shirt and tie for a Corporate Headshot
  • Casual - If you don’t wear a tie, again no white shirts especially if your company has chos
    en a white background. And if you wear a button-down shirt, it’s best to wear a jacket or sweater of some kind to layer the look. If not, choose a darker color shirt or something with pockets or details to avoid it looking like a head floating on a blank, boxy shirt, and unbutton a button or two. And make sure we can’t see your undershirt beneath the button-down shirt: wear a v-neck or no undershirt at all.
  • Try to stay away from anything with bold, distracting patterns or colors. Clothing with really tight grids or a small herringbone pattern can have a moiré pattern effect on camera, so stay away from tight grid-like patterns.
    Thin stripes that are a little further apart are okay

Wardrobe for Women

  • Business Jacket
    or Blazer - Think about the fit and color of the jacket such as medium to dark tones like medium to dark grey, blue or navy. Red jackets photograph well. Stay away from white. Black jackets can work, but make sure you bring some other lighter options. Add a little pop of color by picking a collarless blouse or camisole with a jewel or crew neck. Try some options other than white on the blouse. Colors that work well are medium grey or medium colors like blue, red and even non-traditional colors like jewel tones.  Stay away from big patterns that can distract.  Think a clean professional look.
  • Shirt or Blouse Only - If you are shooting on a white or light background, think contrast, try a bold, dark colours.  Stay away from white or light colors. Consider jewel tones like emerald or sapphire blue. Purple, green, red or orange can work well too. If you want something more neutral, a medium to dark grey can work.  Try to stay away from patterns and strips.   Consider texture if you want something besides a solid consider texture.
  • Neckline and collars - A classic headshot is cropped at or above the sternum. Draped collars look great in person but may be too low for the headshot.  A v-neck, scoop or lower neckline, work well in a slightly wider crop or vertical photo. Watch the lower neckline it may end up cropped out of the photo. Square ne An example of a classic blazer with a textured shirt the correct colour  with a necklace and earrings..  This works great with her chosen background and her profession.Paula Greene HeadshotAn example of a classic blazer with a textured shirt the correct colour with a necklace and earrings.. This works great with her chosen background and her profession.
    cklines tend to be too deep.
  • DressesIf wearing a dress with a bold color or fabric texture Heavier fabrics than a standard blouse or shirt look very nice. If it is appropriate for your business and audience, a sleeveless dress that shows shoulders can look vibrant. Some businesses prefer that arms and shoulders do not show. Make sure to check with your company before


  • Jewelry - Necklace and earrings can be great as an accent or splash of color. In a headshot, anything that goes below your sternum may be cropped out of the final shot. Consider clipping the necklace behind your neck to shorten it. Doubling your necklace is another good strategy.  Often, less is more on jewelry. Simplicity looks classic and stunning. But here again, stay with your personality and consider your audience. For earrings a lot depends on your hair style as to whether they will even show. Simple studs or pearls look great with short hair. Longer earrings can work well too. 



  • Natural Look

For headshots, you want natural-look makeup. “Light” makeup is suitable as long as it is natural and evenly applied. It is more important to aim for a natural look than “light.” Although both can be accomplished simultaneously, it is important to prevent an uneven application. To avoid this, use a minimum amount that ensures uniformity. Also, don’t be afraid to apply setting powder, more than when you are making up for in-person activities, say, going to a workplace or a party. What you need is even coverage combined with natural look finish.

Always a good start is clean and healthy skin, well moisturized. Use primer where appropriate.

  • Color of foundation

Match the color of the foundation to the natural color of your skin in neck/chest area. Some people (especially with fair skin) often choose a shade darker than the skin tone, and that is fine for social events. However, in photography, always match your foundation color to the rest of your skin. If you prefer to alter the skin tone in your photograph, the whole skin color can be adjusted darker or warmer to make it look most attractive during editing.

The best type of foundation is the liquid type. For headshots, oil-free (water or alcohol based) is best. In particular, oil-free matte finish foundation is most common for headshots, but some find it a bit difficult to apply, as they dry quickly, and it also makes a caky look if applied too thickly. Avoid “sheer look” (or glowy or dewy) type as they give excessive shine in the pictures. (Those latter type of makeup is popular for party makeup, as some like the way they look in person, and they last for many hours, especially the ones that are silicone-based. Very few makeup artists who are familiar with photo shoots use those, at least for commercial work in the US.) Powder or compact foundation doesn’t provide the right level of coverage for photo shoots.

  • Lips

The color of the lips should be one notch darker than the best look in person. The lips should be shifted in the direction of darker red. Also, lip gloss is often used in making the lips fuller.

  • Eyes

Wax your eyebrows a couple of days in advance. Trying to reshape the brows through retouching process is possible, but costs more time and money than getting them waxed in real life.

Fill in your brows, especially if you are not going for a retouching option. Make sure your eyebrows are clear and dark enough when viewed in soft natural window light.

Mascara is also appropriate for headshots. Darker color works better for mascara, so black is usually the best choice, even if you usually use brown.

For natural look headshots like actress audition or corporate bio, there is no need to use heavy eye makeup at all. But if you are going for more styled photographs, the eye accents should be one notch darker or vibrant.

You can wear false lashes for most types of work other than the actor’s headshot. In photographs, the lashes do not look as long and drastic as you see in the mirror.

Keep this in mind: the photographic lighting biases your face color to the lighter side, and eyes are where you get the most attention.

  • Blush

Use blush in one small notch darker than the best look in person. However, please make sure to make a few well-diffused applications in small quantities. The first time should be applied and spread in a wide circle, and the second and third in progressively smaller areas. This is to make sure that the edges of the blush are gradual and not abrupt. You can always add more, but once you apply too much, it is tough to blur the edge or remove some.        

  • Powder

Don’t be afraid to use a lot more powder than usual. A lot of setting or finishing powder is routinely used in fashion and beauty photography to reduce shimmer and make the skin look matte. You will realize that a professional makeup artist will keep applying powder every 10–20 minutes of the shoot to prevent shiny skin. You should bring yours and apply extra powder regularly. However, if you are taking a corporate or professional headshot, you probably want to use the next technique to control the shiny skin instead.

For party makeup, shimmer can look great, but for photography, use a matte finish.

  • Oily skin

The best way to control oily skin is a blotter sheet (available in the studio). If this is not enough, mattifying gel (cream) is easy to apply and works well with the skin of all types and colors (also available in the studio).

A more traditional recommendation is colorless translucent powder, mattifying mineral finish powder (also available in the studio), which works well for light skin, but not on darker skin. For fashion and beauty shots, a lot of powder is used, but for clean, natural look makeup, you want to use powder to adjust the look and not to control the shine.


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