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Business Executive Headshot Grooming & Attire Suggestions

Your headshot is how you create a first impression with a potential client. Your business headshot could be one of the deciding factors to do business with you or your company. A successful headshot represents the best you and will speak volumes about your business professionalism. 

A pleasing headshot will reinforce your credibility. A poor headshot can deter business.

Clothing is an extremely important factor. With proper clothing, your face will command attention and the clothing, which is secondary, will complement the picture. Wearing the wrong clothing takes attention away from where you want it - on you and your face.

Follow these simple instructions to ensure your finished business or executive headshot looks its best.

Download a printable PDF document of this information, here

Generally, it is best to stay away from trends, be it fashion choices or hairstyles. A headshot portrait should last you at least two years. Wearing something that was in fashion for a single season will date the image in a single season.

A simple rule, when dressing for a conservative professional headshot; the darker the suit or clothing, the more professional you’ll appear.

  • Keep things simple.
  • Plain colors are best.
  • Patterns or prints distract and will date your photo.
  • Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones (cream, beige, pastels, peach or yellow) as they will blend your face into your clothes.
  • For men, it is alright to wear a white collared shirt, as long as you are also wearing a dark professional jacket.
  • Avoid clothing with a logo, slogan, trademarked name or any written words/symbols printed on them.
  • Avoid wearing an un-ironed shirt, or a scruffy t-shirt that will show in the photo.
  • Bring your own comb or brush. We do not supply one. 

To Search this document quickly, on your keyboard press CTL + F (Command + F on a Mac). Then, enter the search term of interest.

Deep Colors

For a traditional, conservative business portrait which conveys success, we suggest deep colors such as navy blues and grays. Remember, the darker the color, the more professional your finished portrait. Also, darker colors are more slimming.


Men, if your appointment is in the morning, shave earlier in the day to let any razor burn dissipate and to allow any nicks to heal. Generally, one hour prior to the session. If your appointment is mid-day or late in the day, and you have a heavy beard, please consider shaving again mid-day, an hour or so before the scheduled session. When a busy work day, do not rush it. Use a new razor and go slow to prevent razor burn or cuts. If the session involves scheduling multiple persons, schedule men earlier in the morning, when possible.

Patterns Are Bad

Overly busy patterns are bad, be it a jacket, shirt/blouse. Bright or busy jackets, shirts or blouses will distract the viewer's eye from the face. Shirts and blouses will sometimes need to be retouched due to a wrinkle in the fabric, and patterns on that fabric will make this next to impossible.


Generally, necklaces should not be worn, as the headshot will appear you are advertising the necklace. However, should you want to wear a necklace, think about bringing multiple options, so Mark can give you his opinion about what will work best for your portrait.

Multiple Ties

For Men, generally, wear your favorite tie, but nothing with bold patterns or trendy. No flags, product icons or similar. If in doubt, please feel free to bring multiple tie selections. Mark will be able to tell you which one will work best with your skin tone and ensemble.

Slimming Down

Remember the following tips when dressing for a slimming effect:

  • Darker colors are slimming; light colors are not.
  • Solid colors are slimming; bold patterns will expose shape.
  • A single color from head to toe (i.e. a suit) is slimming.
  • Vertical lines are slimming; horizontal lines are not.
  • Sleeves are slimming; not sleeves are not.
  • The v-neck shape is slimming. This is achieved by the cut of a sport coat, jacket, blouse, shirt or sweater.
  • Single-breasted jackets are more slimming than double-breasted.


Make sure your clothing is well tailored. It will be plainly obvious if both your shirt and/or jacket do not fit in your finished portrait. Men, make sure you can comfortably button the top button of your dress shirt.  


For men and women, when having an optional full-length portrait created, then your hands may appear in your finished portrait. Please make sure your nails are freshly manicured.

No Short Sleeves

For men and women, it is best not to wear something sleeveless or short sleeves. This may cause you to look heavier, and bright arms will lead the viewer’s eyes to the bottom edges of your image and away from your face.


For women with an optional full length portrait, try to avoid wide belts. If wearing a belt, make sure it is a darker color, again to slim the waist line and to keep the viewer’s attention to your face.


Do not cut your hair the day before your shoot. It will look like you just got a haircut. Hair gets what we call scissor shock and it shows in pictures, badly.

Hair Coloring/Re-Coloring

Do not color or re-color your hair a week before the session. It should be done 2-3 weeks prior to the photo session. Have your picture created with the hair color you intend to use for at least a year. Otherwise, your headshot will not match how you actually appear. This is the single most reason for having a new headshot created less than 1 year apart.


If you wear glasses most of the time, then we recommend you wear them for your portrait. For best results, consider bringing an extra frame with no lenses. However, Mark can light your portrait in ways which will attempt to avoid glass glare. If avoiding glass glare is impossible, then Mark can digitally remove the glare providing you with the best results possible. 

If you usually wear glasses, decide whether you’d like to wear them in your portrait. If not planning to wear them in the picture, or aren’t sure, take them off around 15 minutes before. This will allow enough time for the red marks on your nose to disappear. If the lenses are thick or distort your eyes in a photograph, see if your eye care professional will loan you identical frames for the photo session.  

Optionally, Mark can photograph you without your glasses. Then, photograph you wearing your glasses. In post-production, he will blend in the eyes from one image without glasses to the image of you wearing glasses. This will blend/remove most of the eyeglass glare. 


For Ladies
If you wear makeup, don’t be tempted to over-apply. This should be a fairly natural representation of you. If you usually choose a bold color lipstick, go for it!

For Men
If you are having afternoon portraiture and generally have an oily face or face shine, Wal-Mart sells Maybelline Brand Shine Free powder. It's not listed for Guys, but is just shine-free powder in shades to match your skin tone. This is what Sports Commentators on ABC, NBC, ESPN use for their make-up while on TV. Yeah, Mark knows most guys refuse to wear any form of makeup. Just putting this out there. Sometimes it's really needed.

Get Some Rest

Make sure you are well rested before your portrait session. Try to get a good night sleep the night before. Dark circles and puffy bloodshot eyes can be retouched in photoshop, but nothing is going to beat a fresh you.


And finally…. practice smiling the night before. For many, it can be difficult to smile on command. Smile from within! Practice smiling with teeth exposed, and with your lips closed. Also, don’t be embarrassed to tell Mark whether you have a 'best side', he will work with you to get the best results. Lots of people have a ‘best side’. This can be due to the shape or symmetry of the face, or even from trying to hide a perceived imperfection. Everyone, in fact, has one eye bigger than the other. It doesn't always show up in a photograph, however. If you are aware of having one eye appear larger in a photograph than the other, again, tell Mark at the time of the portrait session. Otherwise, he may never see it, until after the portrait session.

Mark looks forward to creating your business headshot portraiture.

You implementing the above suggestions, as needed, will go a long way to make your headshot portrait a success.

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