How to Prepare for Your Headshot Session

Choose a Backdrop and Location

There are several options when it comes to selecting your backdrop for your headshot session and your choices will depend on the package you choose to book. The standard package we offer includes your choice of a public location and I am always happy to make suggestions of what areas around NYC work well.

Your profession or brand can influence the location we use and the color pallete we’ll be looking for. For example for corporate headshots the NY Public Library or around the court houses in the Financial District would work very well as the architecture around there has nice neutral tones and the tall buildings cast lots of shade most times of the day giving us beautiful even lighting to work with.

If you’d like more of an environmental headshot where we include the background such as the NYC skyline you can consider areas like Brooklyn Bridge Park or outside of your company’s building – keep in mind we’ll be limited to certain hours of the day when lighting is best at these locations (generally early morning or late afternoon/evening).

The studio option allows us to photograph your headshots indoors either at our studio space or using a portable studio set up we can bring to your location. The portable backdrop and lighting can be set up in any indoor area that is about 10’x10′ – we’ll usually use conference rooms for this and it is helpful if there are either no windows or if windows have shades on them in the room. Having your headshot session indoors has the added benefit of not having to worry about harsh outdoor lighting, rain, or crazy wind that gets your hair flying everywhere.

If your headshot session is part of a larger group organized by your company or organization chances are you do not need to worry about this, but make sure to ask what color backdrop will be used so you can coordinate your outfit as discussed in more detail below.

professional studio headshot black man white background


You want to choose clothing that is a nice balance between showing your personality while also looking professional and flattering to your body. Also consider the tips below for the types of colors and materials which photograph best.

  • Make sure it fits well! Avoid clothing that is too large or too small to look your best. You will look better without a blazer than in one that is not your size
  • Consider bringing multiple outfits with you. Layers such as jackets can be easily taken on and off to add variety
  • Solid colors work best. The focus of a headshot is you, not your outfit so wear something that you look and feel amazing in but does not distract from your face like a loud pattern or very bright neon colors.
  • Avoid anything with a visible logo, symbol, or text.
  • If we’re shooting in a studio with a white backdrop, avoid wearing a white shirt (unless you have a dark blazer on top of it). Same goes for a black shirt on a black backdrop
  • Make sure all clothes are ironed before the session. It is not always possible to photoshop out wrinkles and that is an extensive retouching service not included in any package.
  • If we’re just shooting headshots don’t worry about shoes – wear something comfortable.
  • If you’re wearing a tie, the tip of it should reach about the middle of your belt buckle. If you don’t wear a tie often, practice tying it before your session or come with it already on.
  • Does your shirt have a collar? I highly recommend investing in some collar stays – there are sticky one time use versions or reusable magnetic versions.
NYC Wedding Officiant Larissa Martell Headshot


  • Come prepared with a brush and/or hair product to help with flyaway hairs.
  • If you plan on styling your hair differently than you do everyday, do a trial run the day before to make sure you like it
  • Consider hiring a hair stylist the morning of your session
  • Gentlemen should consider getting a haircut a few days to a week before the session to look a bit more natural

Skincare and Makeup

  • You know your skin best. If you sweat easily, if it will be a hot day, or if your skin is often oily and shiny consider bringing some oil absorbing sheets
  • Makeup is a great way to enhance your natural features and hide any blemishes you might not want to attract extra attention to, however it is suggested to keep it as minimal and natural as possible.
  • Avoid using glossy/glitter makeup as it often does not photograph well. Powder foundations work well for photos and help avoid that “shiny look”
  • If you choose to wear darker lipstick bring a mirror to check your teeth throughout your session. Lip balm or lip gloss looks more natural, but this comes down to personal preference.
  • Don’t do anything that might irritate your skin before your session such as facial peels, tanning, or extreme exfoliating.
  • The simplest way to get your skin looking better is to drink lots of water and avoid fatty and high sodium foods the week before your session.
  • Headshots usually do not include your hands, but if we’re doing an extended session we’ll definitely get some where they are visible (such as a pose with crossed arms) so consider getting your nails done!
  • Consider getting your makeup professionally done before your session. A list of my recommended makeup artists can be found here
  • MEN: If we’re shooting later in the day you can consider shaving closer to your session time, but be aware if it causes skin redness/irritation as that is something we want to avoid.

During Your Headshot Session

  • If we’re photographing your headshots in a studio, let us know beforehand if you have any music requests to help you relax
  • It’s perfectly normal to feel a little awkward and anxious the first couple of photos taken – I’ve been behind the camera for almost a decade now and feel the same way when I need my own photo taken!
  • Be prepared for horrible jokes to get you to naturally smile 😀
  • Trust your photographer – the way we tell you to position your body and turn your head and all that good stuff might feel awkward but we promise it’s all meant to bring out your best features.

After Your Headshot Session

  • Depending on the package booked, we’ll discuss during your initial consultation how images will be delivered, turnaround time, retouching processes, etc.
  • Unless you let us know otherwise, blemishes and acne will be cleaned up in your retouched images. The amount of retouched images you receive will depend on the package booked. Things like birthmarks, freckles, and moles are not removed unless asked for.
  • Understand the usage license for the image(s). Retouched images you receive are ok to use on your website, social media, email signatures, resumes, internal company use, actor profiles/comp cards, etc. For larger commercial usage such as book covers, billboards, advertising, etc there are additional usage and licensing fees involved – please contact us for any questions or clarification.
  • We get questions all the time that start with “Can you photoshop XYZ” and the answer is – it depends.
    • If you have a personal one-on-one session we’ll have time to discuss this in detail.
    • If you are participating in company-wide headshots where our one-on-one time is very limited the short answer is that most likely the retouching that is included covers removal of blemishes and major stray away hairs, teeth whitening, as well as evening skin tones and minimizing shiny skin.
    • Retouching your body to slim down certain areas, removing wrinkles in clothing, etc is considered extensive retouching and charged extra.

Bonus Tips

  • Get plenty of sleep! You want to look full of life and energy for your session.
  • Arrive early. Check Google Maps to see how long it will take to get to your session location and add some time in case of subway delays, traffic, your Uber missing an exit, time you’ll have to spend finding parking, etc. Arriving late gets you stressed out and we want to avoid that before your session! We want to make the most of your session time, and chances are high we’ll have another session or meeting after yours so adding additional time to your booking might not be possible.
  • Ask questions and help us help you. Everyone’s needs are different and the more we know about who you are, where and how the images will be used, the better we can serve you and photograph you in a way you will love. Your headshot will likely represent you for at least a year or two before you need to update it again so let’s not cut corners and do it right.

Ready To Book Your Headshot Session?

If you haven’t yet booked your headshot photography session, use the contact form to get in touch with us today!

Don’t forget to also check out our post about why you need a professional headshot!

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