10 great headshot tips to make your portrait session go smoothly

How to get a great headshot

Getting a great headshot is easy, said no one ever. For starters, you’re worried about your hair, weight, and wardrobe, even if you are normally at ease with yourself. You also don’t have the experience of standing in front of the camera. You’ve a bunch of photographs you’ve tried before, and they look ‘OK’.

And even though I promise an easy-going session that is flexible and pragmatic, getting a classy headshot is daunting for a first-timer. What should you bring? What should you plan on doing in the studio? What’s the best way to dress? The trouble with updating your headshot is stepping into the unknown. This brings me to my advice below.

confident teenager smiles to camera


As the Isle of Wight’s premier headshot photographer, I love answering these questions all of the time. If you’ve found my website, you are likely interested in updating your headshot and are looking for advice on looking your best, and that’s exactly what my portrait tips are meant to do – offer support, guidance, and reassurance.

Because I want you to enjoy your experience and get great-looking headshots. It’s a list curated from my ten-plus years as a photographer and draws on over a hundred headshot clients who’ve shared their insights during my headshot specials. I tend to chat away during my sessions and conversations are always lively. If you’re not a member of my newsletter yet, I really encourage you to join in the fun.

writer in orange jumper smiles


Do the ‘sit test’

If you only follow one piece of advice in my musings, it should be this one. It’s the only way to ensure you’ll love your photos. Something that happens to all my clients (read their portrait reviews here).

Many people arrive with short sleeves, wrinkled clothes, shirts that are too tight, and dresses that are billowy.  It might seem to find to pack your pack on the morning of your headshot session. But all it takes is an ill-fitting outfit to gape when you sit down or fold your arms to upset our carefully crafted plans for great headshots. If you hate your outfit when you see it on the back of the camera, it’ll affect how you feel about the rest of the session.

If you’re nervous about how you’ll photograph, I recommend trying on your outfit and showing friends and family. Ask what they think. Sit down. Cross your arms. Do the clothes hang nicely? My ‘Headshot Expresso’ sessions are only 30 minutes and create 2 great headshots, so you’ll want to be ready to hit the ground running right from the get-go.

You might want to read: 5 mistakes that could ruin your headshots

handsome man smiles


Arrive in your first outfit

When you arrive at my home studio in Ryde, I tend to photograph you in the outfit you are wearing. I’ll whisk you away to my upstairs living room and jump right in to shake off the nerves. This is a great way to get to know each other. But it also means that you will be ready to jump right in confident that you’ve made the right choice. No need to plow through your bag or suitcase trying to find your first outfit.

Be sure to wear a tailored outfit with long sleeves, this means cashmere jumpers, pressed shirts, jackets, body con dresses, or blazers over jeans or chinos. But also remember a hairbrush, blotting papers, and 2 shades of lip gloss. All these things will let you head straight into your headshot session relaxed and in control, ready to start the fun.

relaxed man headshot



Don’t throw all the clothes you think you’ll need in a pile and crush them into your bag. You won’t want 5 T-shirts in different shades (that isn’t 5 different looks). Trust me. Most headshot sessions rotate 3 to 5 different ‘sets’, this might be different lighting to tell a narrative, new backgrounds to suit your business vision, or outfits that allow your clients to get to know you as a formal CEO, relaxed business owner, and outgoing dog walker.

I’d rather you over-pack with your favourite pieces. We can always decide to change our minds on the day. If you’re unsure, no problem, I’ll curate the best outfits to flatter your figure and help you achieve your goals and vision. If we’re still stuck, you are welcome to dive into my ‘client wardrobe’. It’s often saved a few clients in a pinch.

The extra thought that goes into what to pack is a small price to pay for the freedom of exploring the session with a light heart. Plus, you’ll save time during the session which translates into a greater variety of pictures we can generate.

mature woman smiles to camera


Skip fake tans or new haircuts

There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing your photos on the back of the camera realizing the fake tan doesn’t photograph well or your new haircut isn’t *you*

Clean, well-moisturized skin with minimal makeup photographs beautifully and scheduling a haircut or grooming two weeks before the headshot day is perfect. Everyone assumes you need to buy new clothes, get a new look, or add heavier makeup. To avoid making the same mistakes, avoid these approaches and take a simpler approach.

Sometimes I can enhance your makeup, smooth your tan lines and give you digital grooming and it’ll be much less overdone than heavily contoured makeup or tans from home. If you’re not sure what a ‘digital groom’ looks like, check out the photos in my portfolio.

young actor blue blazer


Don’t feel like you have to order lots of photos

It’s OK if you just need one photo. Hate having your photograph taken. Feel pressed for time and want a very short session. You don’t have to do a full branding session. This is why I offer expresso sessions: quick 30 minutes slots that generate 3 great headshots so you can refresh your avatar with a photo you actually like. Remember, life is for the living. Relax. Take time with your family. Sit in your garden. Go for a walk along the coast. Focus on what is important in life. You won’t regret it.

teen actor smiles

For more than ten years I’ve worked with: business owners, actors, performers, agents, writers, and children all wanting classy headshots. And for many years I worked in education before that. I’ve photographed nearly 1000 people and have shared my passion, enthusiasm, and kindness via my website, newsletters, and social media. My mission is to show people that they can take great headshots and will love their photographs.

If you have any questions about my home studio or booking your first corporate headshot, call Amanda Herbert Photography on +44 (0)7719316609 or use the email below


Please contact the Isle of Wight Studio on +44 (0)1983 617383 or Mandy on +44 (0)7719316609  email info@amandaherbert.com or use the contact form below




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