How to Choose What to Wear for Head Shots

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A solid colored top works best for a headshot because it won't distract attention from your face.
A solid colored top works best for a headshot because it won't distract attention from your face. (Image: ViewApart/iStock/Getty Images)

Head shot photos may seem like something only those in the entertainment field need, but, for example, many businesses use photographs of personnel for their websites and these require a professional look. One of the most important decisions to make for your head shots is what to wear -- and your favorite outfit for every day may not be the best option for the photos. That's because you should keep your clothing simple for a head shot, so your face takes center stage.

Keep It Solid

A top in a solid color works best in a head shot. Patterns and bold prints have a tendency to look loud in photos and distract from your face. The same goes for shirts with logos. Choose a color that flatters you, though -- stark white isn’t the best choice because it can wash you out, and vivid red doesn’t usually work because it’s such a strong color. If you have light skin and cool undertones, choose a top in a shade like blue, gray or purple. For light skin with warm undertones, go with a green, brown or orange top. Medium and darker skins can get away with most colors, but don’t choose one too close to your skin tone. If you plan to wear a pattern, such as a striped or polka-dot top, add a cardigan, blazer or sweater in a solid color over it to help tone it down.

Play with Texture

While patterns and prints can be overwhelming in a head shot, choosing a top in a material with a fine texture can add interest to the photo without distracting from your face. Try layering a leather blazer over your button-down top, or wear a denim button-down under a blazer to create some contrast. A corduroy blazer with fine ribbing can be flattering over a simple top as well, or consider wearing a cable knit sweater or cardigan for added visual interest.

Minimize Your Accessories

When it comes to accessories, it’s best to keep things simple. Some photographers recommend avoiding jewelry completely because it can be distracting in a photo. If you want to wear jewelry, choose small, classic pieces. Stud earrings are usually the best option, but if you prefer earrings that hang, choose a style that doesn’t dangle more than an inch from your earlobe. If you want to wear a necklace, opt for a delicate chain with a small, understated pendant. Men wearing a suit and tie for the head shot should go with a tie in a solid or simple striped pattern; avoid silk ties with a reflective, shiny finish that can be distracting.

Have a Few Options

While you may be confident in the blouse, shirt, blazer, sweater or other top that you’ve chosen for your head shot, it may not turn out to be the best option once you sit down in front of the camera. Bring a few other pieces with you to the photo shoot, so you can change if the photographer feels a shirt is too distracting. Take some different pieces for layering to change up your look, as well as tops with different necklines to find the most flattering option. A V-neck is flattering on most people, but collared shirts can work well too.

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