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Corporate Headshot Photography: How to Prepare and What to Expect

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Getting your first corporate headshot can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience, but it's essential for creating a professional image and establishing your brand. Photographer Tim Butler-Jones lays out some essential pointers on how to prepare for your shoot and what to expect from the whole process.


Corporate headshots are a vital part of professional branding, especially in the corporate world. A headshot is usually the first impression potential clients or employers will have of you, so it's essential to make it count. Here's what you can expect from your first corporate headshot photography experience:

  1. Initial consultation - You will likely have an initial consultation with the photographer to discuss the purpose of the headshot, your goals, and the style you're looking for. This is an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you may have and get a feel for what the shoot will be like.

  2. Preparation - Before the shoot, you'll want to prepare by choosing appropriate clothing, grooming yourself, and practicing your smile and posing in front of a mirror.

  3. The shoot - The actual photo session will usually take place in a studio or other controlled environment. The photographer will guide you through the process and help you feel comfortable in front of the camera. They may also make adjustments to lighting and angles to ensure the best results.

  4. Selecting the photos - After the shoot, you'll have the opportunity to review the images and select the ones you want to use. The photographer may also offer retouching services to enhance the images further. The ethics of retouching corporate headshots are a topic of ongoing debate. Striking a balance between enhancing an individual's appearance while preserving their natural attributes is crucial in maintaining ethical integrity in retouching corporate headshots. Transparency and open communication about the extent of retouching can help ensure that ethical boundaries are respected and the intended purpose of the headshot is fulfilled.

  5. Final product - Once you've selected your images, the photographer will usually provide you with high-resolution digital files or prints that you can use for your professional branding.


(Allan Luck from Vega Mortgages – Auckland)


While a professional photographer can handle the technical aspects of taking a good headshot, there are still some things you can do (where appropriate) to prepare and ensure you look your best. Here are a few tips:

  1. Dress appropriately - Wear business attire that fits you well, is comfortable, and looks professional. Avoid stripes, busy patterns or bold prints that can create moire/strobing effects in photos. Stick with solid, neutral colors that complement your skin tone.

  2. Makeup - Use makeup that enhances your natural features and looks professional. Avoid heavy makeup or bright, bold colors that can appear too distracting in photos. Stick to neutral, natural tones that complement your skin tone.

  3. Grooming - Make sure you are well-groomed before your headshot session. Get a haircut a week before the shoot, and shave or trim your beard, mustache or sideburns. If you have acne or blemishes, cover them up with makeup or ask the photographer to retouch the photos.

  4. Hair - Get a haircut or style that flatters your face shape and complements your outfit. If you plan to wear your hair up, make sure it's styled neatly and securely.

  5. Rest - Get enough rest the night before your shoot to avoid looking tired or haggard. This will also help reduce any under-eye bags or puffiness.

  6. Hydrate - Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the shoot to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated.

  7. Posture - Sit or stand up straight to project confidence and professionalism. Avoid slouching or leaning back, which can create unflattering angles.

  8. Smile - Practice your smile in front of the mirror to find your best angle. Avoid a fake or forced smile, and instead aim for a natural, genuine smile that shows off your personality.

  9. Sober - And finally, this should appear obvious but it's worth highlighting: If you turn up to your shoot hungover, drunk or high it will show in the photos and there is nothing that editing can do to hide it. If you are paying for your own shoot, it's your own money you are wasting, but it's a really bad look for you if your company is paying for the session and you're in a studio with five of your well-prepared colleagues, with uncombed hair, red eyes that you can barely open and polluting the studio with the smell of stale Scotch.

Remember, a corporate headshot is a reflection of your professional image, so it's essential to take the time to prepare and present yourself in the best light possible. With these tips, you can be sure to create a headshot that showcases you in your best light.




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