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Picture Day: Choosing What to Wear for a Professional Headshot

Make the most out of your professional headshot by following these simple sartorial suggestions
Written by Chuck GolderSeptember 6, 2019
Est. Reading: 4 minutes

We’re all very excited to have Mike Morby  in our Space next Tuesday morning to provide ANYONE (Members and Non-Members alike) with FREE professional quality headshots. No longer reserved for aspiring actors; a high quality headshot on your website or LinkedIn profile can be a key addition to landing that next client, job, or sale.

Having someone who knows what they’re doing behind the camera is obviously a big help. (Thanks, Mike!) So with that responsibility out of the way, our brains can revert a to high-schooler's mindset and stress about what to wear on “picture day.”

Again Mike, owner of Morby Photography, had our backs. We spoke with him earlier this week and he gave us a few recommendations for what works best when he's taking clients' headshots.

Here are a few tips that can help you make the most of your next photoshoot!

The Focus is on Your Face

If you're going to use the headshot as your LinkedIn profile picture, it’s important to remember that they don't give you a lot of real estate for the picture. That’s why experts recommend your face should fill “at least 60% of the frame.” So, while no one’s going to whip out a calculator to make sure you follow this suggestion, it essentially means that good headshots focus on you from the shoulders up.

Thankfully, this means you don’t have to worry about what to wear from the waist down.

Colors & Prints

A good headshot is a balancing act. And since the focus is on your face, your goal is to wear something that's complementary but doesn't appear distracting.  On the flip side, muted tones of beige and brown can blend your face and clothes together making you look naked.

“It’s easy to stick with black and white,” Mike says, “but add a splash of color to make your image pop.”

“Work with simple textures,” Mike suggests. “Patterns and textures with small patterns can create a moiré on the camera.” Something that we definitely want to avoid.

5d729db86ee0ca085b85cbc0 moire effect blog | align.Space
The moiré effect (in all its glory) happens with complex or small patterns. It's also something that Mike Morby suggests avoiding by wearing simple textures.

For men, Mike also recommends staying away from bold patterns and ties that have a silk sheen. “If you are going to wear a suit, don’t wear black on black. Ties work best when the tone lands between the jacket and shirt.”

For women, Mike’s list of things to avoid is a little longer. He generally advises against wearing: dresses with wide stripes and patterns. Specifically, stay away from any clothing with a grid pattern. However, stripes are okay when layered if paired under a natural sweater or blazer.

The same general attitude of restraint carries over to jewelry too. Simple, classic jewelry, with earrings not hanging more than an inch strikes the right tone.

Fit or Unfit

They say the camera adds ten pounds. Personally, I think it adds about 15-20.

That's why when Mike suggested people “avoid wearing anything that isn’t fitted" I thought back to my sister’s wedding and the limited mobility that I had in my tux.

"Bulky attire can look large and baggy." Plus, as Mike reminded me, this time I won’t have to do anything but sit and smile. (More on that later.)

5d729713ed484eeba52644f6 fitted img blog | align.Space
"Bulky attire can look large and baggy.”

Dress your part

To quote our own Pat Taggart talking about cheesy corporate video, “how do you know when you’re watching a corporate video? When you see a lot of staged handshakes and people who aren’t wearing suits are.” I think the same can be said for your headshot.

Authenticity is best - don’t overdress, or underdress.

Consider the line of work you’re in and the audience you’re trying to reach. If you wear a suit to work everyday, having a business casual photo on LinkedIn might not work. If you’re a truck driver, don't overthink it. Wear your everyday attire and add a bit of personality to your photo by incorporating your rig into the background.

(Most likely) Say, Cheese!

Contrary to popular belief dressing the part doesn’t stop at your clothes. Your smile (or possibly lack thereof) is a chance for you to convey your personal brand. If you own a professional security company like my friend Anton, smiling might not fit your brand.

HOWEVER! - a study of 800 profile pictures found that people view you as more likable, competent, and influential if you smile in your pic.

And smiles that show teeth were rated twice as likable as closed-mouth smiles. So if you consider your brand a little more serious, it’s okay to look serious in your picture. But generally speaking, smiling can help put candidates at ease and make you look more approachable.

Follow these simple suggestions to make sure your next headshot is a winner.

We hope to see you Tuesday, September 10th, from 9am - 11am for FREE headshots and coffee in our Space. See you then!

Written By Chuck Golder

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