Forget the Selfie: 5 Tips to Rock Your Professional Headshot with Confidence

by Pat Hammond on Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Photographer from Joerg Rudloff

Time to update that LinkedIn profile pic?

Ten years ago just having a profile picture put you miles ahead of the competition, but today things are different. The job market is much tighter and companies are spending a lot more time online looking at how candidates present themselves on social media.

I know it's tempting to grab your phone and start snapping pics, but you only get one shot to make a first impression, do you really want to waste it on a slightly blurry pic of yourself in front of a bathroom mirror?

Earlier this week I posted Finding the Right Photographer:A Few Tips From a Professional from Jeff Hastings, local photographer and owner of Frame of Mind Photography. Hastings shared the current costs and what to look for when choosing a photographer for a professional head shot. Today I am talking to professional personal stylists and image consultants Susan Osborne from Be Image Consulting, Sharon Jensen from Embrace Your Wardrobe and April Arnold, owner and creative director of 26th on Hanover to find out their best tips for rocking your headshot with confidence.

1. Choose the right outfit

Always strive for professional look that makes you look genuine, welcoming and friendly.

Susan Osborne says to start by asking yourself who you are trying to attract. Is it a conservative client? Is it an employer in a creative industry? "What does genuine, welcoming and friendly look like to those people?"

She also urges people to err on the conservative side. You can be a little more wild if you update your avatar every year, but if you plan on using the same picture for all of your accounts and media photos for a few years you should probably stick to more traditional wardrobe choices.

2. Wear the right color

Across the board the two key take aways on clothing color are to keep it neutral and moderate the intensity.

As wardrobe consultants Osborne and Jensen point out it's important to know which colors work with your hair and skin tone. Sometimes a slight shift in intensity or hue is all it takes to make your favorite color work for you. If you've never had your colors done it's definitely worth your time. In fact, they both offer color consultation because it really is the cornerstone to looking good on camera and in person.

"Wear more makeup than you ever would in real life"
Susan Osborne, Be Image Consulting

3. Wear a lot of makeup

Makeup was another hot spot for the stylists. Susan Osborne does a lot of makeup for tv and advertising and tells us that if you want to look good on camera you need to "wear more makeup than you ever would in real life."

This concept is reinforced by April Arnold who frequently does makeup for the NH Film Association, visiting politicians and a long list of local celebrities. She explains that the extra makeup is necessary to provide better contour and highlighting and so that your skin looks dewy instead of shiny under the artificial lights.

Arnold has a lot of great tips to even out skin tone, neutralize red spots and hide under eye circles, but her best advice is to "get professional hair and makeup two hours before your session."

Most people aren't used to doing makeup for studio lighting, but a professional makeup artist is going to be able to set your makeup so that you look fresh for your entire session. The same goes for hair.

If you tell your stylist that you are getting photos done they will use products so that your hair holds the style between home and the studio and if you're like me and have super straight hair, that's a big deal.

4. Always wear a shirt with sleeves

Susan Osborne is fairly stern on this topic. "Regardless of how in shape your arms are, don't go sleeveless for professional pictures." She even goes as far as advocating that you wear a jacket. "A picture on LinkedIn needs to be professional" and you can never go wrong wearing a suit or a jacket.

You might think that this is going overboard, but I talked to a few photographers and the general consensus seems to be that no matter how good a woman feels in a sleeveless top she always cringes when she sees it in pictures.

5. Stay Energized to Look Authentic

There is a reason professional models make lots of money. Doing a photo shoot is hard work. Not only does it feel unnatural to smile and pose endlessly under bright lights, but it's a physical drain on your resources to keep up your energy and enthusiasm.

April Arnold has what I call the absolute best tip of the day for staying fresh and keeping your smile authentic. "After so many pictures your face starts to feel a little like it's melting." Take a mini break while the photographer is resetting the lights or setting up the next shot. Have a sip of water, relax your face, take a few breaths and let your posture go loose. When the photographer is ready for the next shot ask him to count it out. When he gets down to 1 whip your head up and smile.

You may think it sounds ridiculous, but I actually do this myself and it works. There aren't too many people who are less comfortable and more self-conscious in front of a camera than me, but this one tip is the thing that gets me a decent picture pretty much every time.

Own Your Brand

The number one rule of branding is to tell people how you want them to see you, then make sure that you present a unified picture to support it. Remember, every article, comment and image you post online is a reflection of both you and your brand.

Anyone can hold a cell phone in front of themselves and snap a pic, but once you book a session with a professional photographer you owe it to yourself to look your best.

As Deion Sanders famously said, "When you look good you feel good, when you feel good you play good, and when you play good they pay good."

And if you follow these tips you will be on solid ground for looking good and shining with confidence when you step in front of that camera.


Please check the links below for more information about the services offered by April Arnold, Susan Osborne and Sharon Jensen.

April Arnold, 26th on Hanover - 26th on Hanover is a full service salon in Manchester, NH offering hair, nails, makeup services as well as a newly renovated on site spa. For more information about 26th on Hanover you can find them online or on Facebook. To book an appointment please call 603-626.-0250

Susan Osborne, Be Image Consulting - Susan Osborne offers style assessment, wardrobe consulting, color analysis and personal shopping as well as corporate consulting in the heart of the Manchester Millyard. For appointments, please call 603-496-6667.

Sharon Jensen, Embrace Your Wardrobe - Sharon Jensen is located in Milford, NH and offers color analysis, style analysis, wardrobe planning and personal shopping. To schedule an appointment please call 603-670-4213 Sharon also has an active YouTube channel where she regularly share tips and advice for how to choose the right style for your coloring, figure and lifestyle.