How to Prepare for the Best Possible Portrait

Knoxville, TN portrait photography tipsA little preparation and forethought prior to your portrait session will go a long way in creating an exceptional headshot. With that in mind, the following tips will help us create an effective image where everything around you will frame and accentuate you instead of detracting or deflecting attention away from you.  You’ll also be more confident and relax knowing that you’re looking your best. Here are some suggestions that will help you prepare:

  • Participate and don’t give up
    • It is hard to create a beautiful portrait from someone who is not prepared and doesn’t try during the session.
    • Follow the directions, and like so many others, you are likely to be amazed at what can happen.
  • If the images are to be used by your corporation, franchise, or company
    • look on their website for examples of other portraits that have been done
      • review them for examples of appropriate clothing to wear
    • inquire with your boss and/or marketing director of any photography guidelines that they may have
    • Send any examples that you find to me so that I can make sure I’m properly prepared.  If they are overly complex, there may be an additional investment for the additional digital management.
  • Consult with me before your session if there is time
    • Discuss what the portraits will be used for
      • Who is the target audience (the entire setup will be different for a salesperson compared to a lawyer)?
      • What look, attitude, and feel do you want to create?
    • Discuss clothing options
    • Discuss anything that you would like minimized in the portrait (such as weight, age, or facial imperfections)
      • I can make sure the lighting, posing, and clothing choice matches your needs
    • E-mail me examples of any portraits that have the feel and look you’re going for
      • Include any portraits that you have had done in the past that you particularly loved or really hated
  • Plan your clothing
    • Figure out your outfit before arriving to the session, if possible.
      • There is one outfit per portrait without an additional investment.
    • The most important thing is to feel wonderful in what you are wearing (even if it breaks these rules, but talk to me about it well before the day of the session)
    • Consider investing in something new
      • Shop with your friends and have fun
      • Blame the investment on your photographer!
    • Iron or have your clothes or have them dry cleaned beforehand and bring them to the session on hangers
    • Layering (especially for men but for women too), such as a blazer and collared shirt (but keep it simple)
      • Layered textures add interest
    • Avoid these things:
      • Dramatic patterns, prints, stripes, or dots
      • Trendy or dated styles
      • Medium-toned colors (about as light or dark as your skin)
      • Bright white undershirts or shirts under jackets
      • Overly baggy or tight clothing
      • Bulky clothing
      • Reflective clothing
      • Clothing with logos (unless it is yours) or words
      • Blouses with shoulder pads
      • Bras with colors that conflict with the rest of your clothing or that show and draws attention
    • Consider these things:
      • Long sleeves are flattering to the arms
      • Darker-toned solid (darker than your skin tone)
        • Deep red, blue, green, and black
      • Lighter-toned solid (lighter than your skin tone)
      • Colors that make your eyes stand out
        • Blue eyes – grey/blue or pure blue
        • Green eyes – turquoise or green
        • Hazel – consider either of the above
    • Necklines that flatter:
      • V-necks lengthen your neck, which is appropriate for broad faces
        • Deep V-necks can draw attention to your chest
      • Round necklines shorten your neck, which is appropriate for thin faces
      • Square necklines make a square jaw more prominent
      • Turtlenecks or scarves hide the neck and should be generally avoided but can also be skillfully used to hide saggy necks and double chins
    • Ties:
      • Take the time to make a great knot and tighten it up.
        • Click here for a video tutorial from the front.
        • Click here for a video tutorial from your point of view.
  • Consider your makeup choices carefully
    • Give yourself plenty of time to do an exceptional job
    • Do use light and natural makeup
    • Avoid bold, trendy, glossy, or shimmering looks
    • Don’t use heavy coverup over blemished. the images will be retouched and this makes it look unrealistic.
  • Think about your hair
    • Get a trim and style
      • Men – a week before your session
      • Women – potentially the day of
    • Don’t get a new hairstyle
    • Avoid bold, trendy hairstyles as the portrait will go out of date quicker
  • Think about facial hair
    • Men should shave or trim beards
      • Consider trimming your eyebrows and any ear hair
    • Women should consider having their eyebrows cleaned up
  • Think about your jewelry – it should be generally minimal, simple, and elegant
  • Glasses
    • Before arriving, look in a mirror and adjust them to center your eyes in the glasses. Most will twist over time and ride higher on one side than the other. 
    • If you wear glasses, make sure you bring them.
    • If you have transitional glasses you want to be photographed in, wear alternative ones and keep the transitional ones in a bag.
  • Get a good nights sleep
  • Make sure your skin looks its best
    • Do not use suntan beds for the week prior to your session
    • Take the opportunity to have a facial the week beforehand.
      • You can blame the investment on your photographer!
    • Drink lots of water in the few days before your session and on that day
  • What to bring with you to your session:
    • Hairbrush
    • Hair spray
    • Makeup that you might need for touch-ups (including extra powder)
    • Toothbrush, if you’re going to eat before the session
    • Visine eye drops (for getting the red out)
  • Give yourself plenty of time to arrive on time

Finally, now that you’re ready, relax and don’t worry. You’ve hired a professional who will use lighting and comfortable posing to make you look your best. Try not to be overly critical of yourself. We’ll be taking lots of photos for you to choose from, and I’m confident that we’ll end up with an exceptional portrait that will exceed your expectations. You’re going to look fabulous!