What to wear for a professional photo shoot
OK ladies, you might not enjoy having your photo taken, but if you run your own business, you’ll inevitably need some images of you for your website and social media. So, you engage a photographer who specializes in professional image photography and book in a date for a photo shoot. Now what?
Well, to get the absolute most out of your photo session, you will want to absolutely LOVE the end result, the photos, right? And you’ll want to be able to use those photos in your business for some time to come, right? Whether you love the photos and want to use them depends on one thing; do the photos convey the message you want to get across about yourself? You can find the most skilled photographer and have the most beautiful shots taken, but still not love the images because of small details, such as your hair, your make-up or what you are wearing. Thinking about these things in advance, and planning what you want to get across in your photos will help to make sure your photos are perfect for you, and you absolutely love them.
As a trained personal stylist, I advise many clients on what to wear to a professional photo shoot. Here’s a run down of my top tips on what to wear when you get your portrait taken, along with these gorgeous images from top Business Portrait Photographer, Victoria Tapper.
Think about your brand message first.
The final images from your photo shoot will be a direct reflection of you and your business brand. So, what do you want that brand to be? What’s the message? Is it your passion for what you do, is it a professionalism and attention to detail? Is it your fun and creativity? Before you do anything, think about the message that your images will need to convey about you and about your business.
This image really gets across a professional message.
One of the first things I teach my clients in our online course about what to wear in their business is about planning out your brand message. If you can get it to no more than 3 key words, it will be far easier to get across. I asked Victoria Tapper for her view on this, “The first thing I ask clients is what do they want the images to say about them and their business; it’s crucial that I capture that person and their business accurately and authentically”.
2. Think about colour
Wearing a colour that suits you, that you love, and that conveys your brand message is the single biggest thing you can do to get a great shot and feel really confident, and confidence is so important. Victoria agrees, “If you feel great, you’re half way there in getting a fabulous shot of a confident and beautiful business woman with great body language”.
Firstly, think about which colours will help convey your brand message. So, for example, I deliberately choose colours that are soft and muted, which helps me to come across as instantly more approachable. You might want to convey your energy and enthusiasm, therefore choosing bold, high energy colours. Or if you’re thinking of your professional credentials, a navy or a dark grey might convey that well. Think about the message and how you can convey that using different colours – if you need a start point, have a look at this blog on different colour meanings.
The colour mix of blue tones help convey messages of reliability, calm and professionalism
Don’t be afraid of using colour, but make sure that the colour suits your skin tone, and helps convey your brand message (if you’re not sure what colours suit you, make an appointment for a colour consultation or book in with a personal stylist near you.)
The most important colour you’ll wear will be the one nearest to your face, because that is the focal point of the photograph and the one that makes the biggest visible difference to how you look.
Think about the colour nearest your face as the main focal point.
Take a selection of colours or coloured tops with you because you won’t know what backgrounds the photographer will use. As a start point take:
- one darker neutral colour (such as black, navy, grey or brown)
- one lighter neutral colour (such as white, cream, taupe or light grey)
- one bright or bold colour (like cerise or cobalt blue)
- one soft colour (such as pastel pink or olive green)
This will give you a good selection of options that your photographer can advise on using depending on the lighting and the background.
Choose a selection of light and dark colours which you can use depending on the shot.
Many professional shoots focus on headshots, but think about the whole outfit. What trousers or skirts have you got that go with all the tops you’ve chosen? Or are you going to wear a dress or a suit? A single colour from head to toe will always help you appear taller and slimmer – have you got a dress, suit or top and trousers in the same colour you could experiment with?
Many women prefer to stick to black as it’s regarded as a safe colour. If you like black because it’s slimming, then any dark colour will do the same job. Black actually only suits around 25% of people (near the face), and even then, often needs another colour to bring it to life. If you’re determined to wear black for your photo shoot, play around with different lipstick colours and different necklaces to see if adding these flashes of colour improves how the black looks near your face. Victoria says, “Black is such a powerful colour right next to the face. It forces the viewer to look straight to it rather than the face. Women with strong features can get away with it, although even then, the shot needs to be carefully composed”.
Think about how you can make black work for you by adding lipstick or jewellery
If you really want a ‘safe’ colour that will look great on you, go for a true purple or a teal. These two tones tend to span across skin tones, meaning they are the colours that are likely to suit most skin tones.
Teal and purple are colours that suit most skin tones
3. Using a pattern or print
A solid colour is going to be less distracting than a pattern or a print. You can use pattern and print, if you feel that it helps support the key messages you want to get across. So, for example, a business who bakes cakes from a home kitchen might want to convey the homely country wholesome message – therefore a lovely floral apron might really help. In general however, unless you can justify a print, you’re better to stick to solid colours.
Have a look at your fabrics too, you probably won’t want a shiny fabric as that will just glare on the photo. Texture can work really well, so consider taking something with texture in it along and ask your photographers advice as to whether it will work on the image. Victoria agrees that texture can work, “I love it when clients bring something textured along to a photo shoot. It’s a wonderful element to introduce. It adds a nice bit of crunch to the scene, all of which helps in creating a powerful and interesting photo that the viewer will want to linger over”.
Textured clothing can really enhance an image.
4. Think about shapes
The main focus of this type of shoot is of course you, therefore the aim is to create an image that really focuses on your face. In many shots, the image will be your head and shoulders only, but even in a full-length image, your neckline will be the most important shape you wear to bring the attention to your face, so think about what different neckline shapes can do. A scoop or V neckline will help lengthen the appearance of the neck. You can also experiment with collars, jewellery or interesting colour or detail at the neckline.
Experiment with jewellery to bring attention to the face.
A scoop or V neckline will help lengthen the appearance of the neck.
Clothing that is semi fitted, fitted and well tailored will create a more polished image than clothing that is loose or baggy, in fact loose clothing can be a real problem for the photographer to get a clean shot without fabric looking bunched or losing a sense of shape in the image. From a photographers perspective, Victoria agrees, “A lot of women, especially those who are a little larger than they’d like to be, prefer to wear loose clothing. But in a photo this adds more volume to the shape and often makes the shot look messy with all the uncontrollable folds of fabric”. Sharp lines on clothing will help you to come across as more dynamic, organized, or driven, while rounded, more curvy lines will convey messages of approachability, thoughtfulness, and creativity, so again think about your key messages and choose shapes that help you to reflect that message.
5. Bringing it all together
Once you know the key message you want to get across in your images, have a practice at home before you go to your shoot. Try on the clothes you’re thinking of wearing and take a few selfies on your phone. Like what the colour does? Is it starting to get across the brand messages you want to convey? Obviously a professional photographer will take your brief and creatively bring it to life, but to get a good grounding, make sure you like how you look in your clothes as it will give you so much more confidence when you get in front of the camera.
Photographers work hard to get the perfect shot!
Think about your underwear and make sure that the bra you’re going to wear doesn’t show with any of your chosen tops. Try them on together to be sure, because a strap showing, or a lace bra showing through a light top can spoil an otherwise lovely headshot. Another piece of advice from Victoria, “Photoshop can’t iron clothes! Press the outfits before the shoot. In the rush and buzz of getting ready, lots of people forget this, and that’s fine, we have a coffee and chat and do the ironing. But it’s best from a time point of view to have everything ready”.
If you’re doing your own hair and makeup, have a practice in advance and plan what you’re going to do. If you’re not sure, there are lots of YouTube tutorials which will help you create an easy hairstyle or make up routine. Just because you're being photographed, don't be tempted to wear more make-up than you would normally as you won't see 'you' in the final images. If you're someone who rarely wears any make-up, then plan your headshots au natural. A great photographer will bring out the very best in your fresh faced and natural approach.
If you're not happy doing your own make-up, it's worth enlisting a professional make-up artist.
And finally, a good photographer will ensure that the shoot is enjoyable, relaxed and memorable. So much of a photographer’s job is about bringing out the very best in people so that you feel totally at ease and confident in front of the camera. This way, great photos are created, and ones that you as the client will love and will work hard for you and your business.
Victoria Tapper is a business photographer. In her words “I create authentic business photography; the kind of photography people find engaging and make a connection with”. In 2018 she was awarded Best Photographer in the Muddy Stilettos Awards. She is based in Wiltshire and London. If you would like to see her work, click here www.victoriatapperphotography.co.uk
Victoria Lochhead is a personal stylist who specialises in helping women feel more confident and authentic in developing their own unique style. She can be found at www.frankieandruby.co.uk.