When it comes to what to wear for headshots, you’d be forgiven if you thought “What to wear for headshots? Well, that’s easy, it doesn’t matter just don’t wear a hat!” After all, aside from your head what else would show up? Well, isn’t that special – but’s it wrong! It’s okay, you’re not a photographer, you’re not expected to know! This time on the Frank Frost blog we’re going to go over what a headshot is precisely and what to wear for your headshots!
What Are Headshots?
You might have heard headshots and portraits used interchangeably for the upcoming office photoshoot and while there is some overlap, these are different. Think of it like a squares and rectangle situation. Not all rectangles are squares, but all squares are rectangles. Similarly, headshots are a type of portrait, but not all portraits are headshots.
More specifically, headshots are a photo, tightly cropped focusing on the face from the shoulders up. The subject is camera aware (meaning looking towards the camera, typically right into the lens.
Headshots are particularly important for actors, models, and those in similar industries. It’s how they can get their face out there. But they don’t have to be reserved for thespians! Anybody can benefit from a well done headshot! But what to wear for them!?
What Color To Wear for Headshots
Any color can work, if your photographer is set up for it. To make any color work right you need to light it properly and have a background ready to balance it out.
But some colors definitely capture better! Wearing a dark black or bright white can mess with the color and make you appear washed out, so avoid that. Any color that is close to your skin tone can also make it more difficult for the camera to pick out features.
What About Patterns?
Let’s put it to bed quickly – patterns aren’t the best idea, for a number of reasons. For one a pattern that is too ‘loud’ can make for a distracting headshot. Patterns can also make a photo feel more dated, faster. Stick to solid colors or very subdued patterns if you want your headshots to last awhile.
How About Styles?
When it comes to tops, look for crew, boat or narrow v-necks are always flattering and lay right. Sometimes collars have a tendency not to work exactly right and can make the final headshot look a little off so avoiding them is easiest. If you typically wear a jacket for your work take a jacket or two to have options but don’t feel you need one to be professional! Make sure your clothes fit well beforehand (a general rule of thumb is a little snug is better than loose) so try them on a few days before the photos are being taken to ensure they fit exactly as you’d like.
For general guidance on what not to wear:
Too low necklines
Too high necklines like turtlenecks
Busy or trendy patterns (again they’ll photo poorly and date the photo faster)
shiny fabrics like silk or satin.
short sleeves or sleeveless styles*
*unless you’ve got strong arms you’re wanting to show off!
How About Accessories?
In general, less is more. Keep jewelry to a minimum. Here are some tips for specific types:
Stud earrings are best, especially simple pearls or stones.
Hoops and dangling earrings can interfere with your hair and get lost in your portrait.
Remember the focus is on your face and you want as little to distract from it as possible so big jewelry, large hoops, or unique pieces might draw the eye away from your face and ruin the intention of the headshot. If big jewelry is your style, don’t fret, there are ways to make it work!
The big thing is to make sure your clothes fit right. Especially for jackets and collared shirts. While wearing it, look for gaps at the back of your neck. You don’t want it too tight, however, or else you risk a bit of a bulge of neck over the collar and it will look… not so good on camera. If you’ve never had your clothes tailored before now is a great time to give it a try! It’s surprisingly inexpensive and will give your fit the exact right look.
Know what style you’re going for and whether you need a tie, a sport coat or a suit coat. If you’re wearing a tie you can wear either a suit or sport coat but if you’re opting for a no-tie look you should only wear a sport coat. Button down collars rarely lay just right in photos so unless it’s a deliberate style choice of yours best to avoid them.
What About Glasses?
Glasses can be tricky! If you’re not careful the lenses can produce a glare that blocks out your eyes in the photo – and that’s no good! If you’re able, give your glasses a non-glare coating otherwise you can use a set of lens-less frames. They’ll photograph fine and are true to your look. If you forget and there ends up being a glare don’t sweat it too much. Photographers should be able to remove the glare in post-production.
Some Final Tips
Don’t wear your headshot wardrobe in your car. Car seats, driving, heat, seat belts – all of these can mean wrinkled clothes for the photos. Instead bring the wardrobe clean and pressed on hangars and change specifically for the photos.
Speaking of clean and pressed, make sure your clothes are just that. Take them to a tailor to get them sized exactly right for you, whatever you need to make sure your clothes are looking pristine for your photos.
Bring a few options! Since you really only need to worry about the waist and above for your headshot, bring a few different shirts, jackets to get the best photos for you!
Want a few more ideas? Check out our Business and Headshot page for some example headshots and see what others are wearing and what looks good to you.
That is a big question, “Why is photography important?” We talked about it previously in a way when we discussed how we are known by what we leave behind, and that’s a big piece of it. Photography captures the moments now so that they are accessible in the future. It documents things as they are, free from the editorialization of memory, or the deterioration of time. Photography is important for plenty of reasons.
Why is Photography Important? It’s Important Because…
It Places You In the Moment
For those in front of the camera, this is literal, photography captures you as you are in this exact moment in your environment. For those behind the lens, the power of photography changes the way we see the world, what we notice and keys us into the moment we look for the perfect shot. We see light, shadows, frames, colors. We note expressions, gestures, feelings, the small human moments that life is made of.
It Documents Your Life
In a purely practical sense, photography document your life! Capturing the moment of your children’s first day of school, birthdays, and those other big life moments. With every passing year, the photos taken serve as a sort of living record to your family’s life and history.
It Creates Firsthand Accounts
Looking even bigger than personal lives, photography is an important historical tool. When it comes to the documenting of history, there are things called “secondhand accounts,” where people know of an event write on a subject, and then there are firsthand accounts – information, stories, tales, from those who experienced the events. Photography, film, these create first-hand accounts of history!
It Connects People Across Space and Time
In a truly sci-fi twist, photography connects folks across space and time! Think about the photos you’ve seen from a hundred years ago or documenting the second world war. Looking at these you see men and women living in their moment, in their place, and just think, in another century your descendants or strangers entirely will be able to look at photos of you in your moment and be connected to your life and experience, if only in that moment.
Photography doesn’t just connect us to our ancestors or our descendants to us. It also helps diffuse information widely through imagery, spreading messages far and wide. It’s why we share school photos with family back home in another state, in one image it transmits the growth and appearance of a loved niece, nephew, grandson, granddaughter, or what have you.
It Brings Joy
Following up on that last point about sharing photos with family members, photography brings joy. Whether it’s in taking the photos (as joyful as it is for us) or in capturing the joy of the moment. If there’s one thing we all could use more of these days it’s joy. Photos of those precious moments, those good times, can bring a powerful dash of joy in the middle of a stressful day. Looking at memories of the good times captured on film can help ease the burden of bad times.
It is An Art
Photography is an art form. It allows us to express ourselves, taking photos of anything from a beautiful landscape, a family home, the lines of weathering on our grandmother’s faces. What the photos capture, what they mean, it’s all a part of the medium of photography as an art. Creating something is perhaps one of the purest pursuits of humanity. That drive for creation is important. Why is photography important? For us, it’s because we love what we do. Go back to the very first entry here on the blog and you’ll see us talking about just that and in the 14 years since nothing has changed. For us at Frank Frost Photography, photography is important because it’s our passion and yes our livelihood. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
I can’t go forward in time. I haven’t figured that one out, yet.
And really, that’s okay with me. I’m more interested in traveling back in time.
<cue the Huey Lewis music>
I do it every day. I look forward to it. It’s at the point now
where I travel back in time without even thinking about it. I don’t use any
sort of time traveling spaceship or time machine, although if I did, it
wouldn’t look like a 1960’s British police box or a DeLorean. It would probably
be more like a traveling refrigerator. I get hungry often, people. It just
makes sense. Plus, I’d have a place for time traveling leftovers.
Luckily, though, I don’t need any of that; I travel back in time
just fine on my own. Mind you, this is in no way a humblebrag, ‘cause there’s
nothing special about me that allows these journeys into the past. Nothing at
all. And how far back I go varies. Sometimes, I find myself reliving events
that occurred just a few days ago; sometimes, I go back decades, meeting people
I never knew.
When I tell people that I am a time traveler, they often ask me
the secret, for many, too, want to revisit people and places in their past. I
mean, who doesn’t? Whose heart doesn’t ache to go back to a certain time in
life that meant something; to once again see our mothers’ eyes or gaze at the
chubby legs of our children as they play. These things, though long gone, mean
something to us still.
And when asked for my secret to time travel, I always share how I
do it. How could I not? I mean, if you’ve found the trick to going back in time
to see loved ones again, how could you not share that joy? You’d be a real jerk
to keep that ability to yourself.
So if you, like others, are reading this and wondering how it’s
done, allow me to share. It’s really
quite easy. It’s done in 3 steps:
Pick up a printed photo
Look at it
Go back in time
Super easy, right? You don’t have to be skilled or smart or come
from a long line of time travelers to accomplish it. In fact, YOU could be the
first in your family to do it.
But beware—time travelers face villains. Plenty of them. They
scoff and tell people wanting to time travel that they don’t need a PRINTED
photo to go back in time; it can be done with a digital image. And they are
partly correct, for a digital image will take you back in time, sure, but only
so far. And worse, there is no guarantee that you will be able to time travel
in the future. Thirty years down the road when you want to visit the past
again, will you be able to? Will you be able to revisit family and friends on
your journey? Or will you sit, crying and praying to the saint of lost pixels:
Friends, the only sure time travel is with a printed photograph.
Remember, ANYONE can travel back in time.
Which makes me wonder, why doesn’t everyone do it?
(Note: St. Arrghus doesn’t really do anything. He just sits there
powerless, kind of like the pixels you can’t get off that USB drive.)
She was 17. Not one of
the popular kids. She wasn’t a cheerleader or a track star, and she had long
given up hope of ever becoming Homecoming Queen. She’ll be lucky if anyone even
asks her to the dance.
She tries to fit in. She loves the trendy
clothes all the seniors are wearing, even though her weight makes it difficult
to stay in style. Her hair is long, wavy and luxurious. Some say it’s her best
feature. She thinks it’s unruly; a dark kinky mass that never cooperates.
Freckles dot her face like sprinkles on an ice cream cone, and all the time
spent in the summer sun has just made them darker.
Her senior session
took place in the Sandia Mountains. She loves nature and feels at home under
the tall pine trees. She giggled nervously at first, but as the session
progressed, she became more and more relaxed. The poses that had, at first,
been rendered unattainable by a set of nerves determined to keep her body from
complying, now seemed to flow effortlessly.
She plopped down into a field of wildflowers, laughing like some kind of
woodland sprite, her unruly hair lifting on the breeze, her body becoming one
with tall grasses and smiling flowers.
The session continued until the last drop of light had been squeezed
from the sky.
The images came to me for retouching. It was late in the evening, and I was tired.
I had already spent a full eight hours in front of the computer, and this was
my last order of the day. I opened the file hoping to find a session that could
be cranked out in a matter of minutes. Instead, I found 15 images that would
keep me up well past midnight.
It didn’t matter,
though, because I knew this girl. I had never seen her before, much less spoken
to her, but I recognized her. She
reminded me of another teenage girl; a girl I hadn’t thought much about for the
past twenty years; a girl I used to see in the reflection of my own bedroom
mirror each morning as I got ready for school.
An opportunity to
place ones self in another’s shoes doesn’t happen often. Most of us have NO
idea what it feels like to be a realtor, or a doctor, or a musician. We can’t imagine how it feels to repair a
broken bone, or perform Beethoven’s fifth in front of a packed Carnegie Hall,
but we can reach into the past and wrap our memories around the
awkwardness and uncertainty of those high school years. Who among us doesn’t
remember the unrequited crush, or the nervousness of a first date? Who can’t
empathize with the feelings of uncertainty that permeate high school life? Moments of sheer jubilation followed by
embarrassment. Floating on cloud nine
after being winked at by that “someone special” in the hall, only to find the
wink was intended for the girl behind you. Trying fervently to measure up to
“the standard” and never feeling confidant you do. That’s what makes
photographing seniors unique; we can understand their situation; their place in
life, because we’ve all been there. As I
sat in my office and gazed at the image of this senior girl, I could relate to
her. I saw her sitting in a field of flowers and I knew exactly what she
wanted. I felt her desire echo the unspoken in all of us, regardless of age:
she wants to feel special; she wants to feel important; she wants to feel
See, we don’t just photograph a person—we photograph
The Whole Person. Clients come to us with more than a change of clothing-they
come to our studios and bring every past experience with them: hurts and
humiliations, insecurities and fears, triumphs and disappointments. Some wear
these experiences like a banner, carrying them out in the open for all to see.
Others tuck them away, out of sight, like a pair of old, worn socks encased in
a pair of $200 shoes. It doesn’t matter if the subject is one of the “pretty
people” or someone who likens sitting for the camera to the pain of a route
canal. Insecurities come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and those we don’t
see are just as important as those we do, maybe even more so.
She came into the
studio with her mom to pick up her order, her face a story of hope and fear. I
opened the box, took out her images, and spread them before her in a wash of
color. She said nothing, only stared—complete silence. My heart dropped.
After a few moments,
she turned to her mom, and, through blue eyes brimming with tears, she smiled.
She then turned back to the images said three words that made my heart sing:
“I look beautiful.”
My friends, that is why we do what we do.
This time, she came
into my studio, the girl with unruly hair and freckles, teeming with
unspoken insecurities. The next time, it could be yours.
her. Understand her. And make her feel beautiful.
It’s all around us, this directive to “Do work that matters.”
I’ve been seeing it from the likes of people I admire, like Seth Godin and Jon
Acuff. I’ve read it in books and heard it on podcasts and watched impassioned
speakers beseech audiences to redirect their goals. I’ve listened to this
buzzphrase #doworkthatmatters and yet, the meaning evaded me. Granted, I’m not
the sharpest tool in the shed, but this directive was puzzling. So I did a
little research. And by “doing a little research,” I mean I asked The Google.
Turns out, quite often, the “work that matters” concept is
related to engaging in something out of the ordinary; a leap into unknown
territory gasping a grand idea firmly with both hands. It means harnessing
creativity and vision and channeling those into something never before seen or
done; it speaks to closet creatives and entrepreneurs working to make a
difference and/or a ton of money.
Doing Work that Matters requires leaving the cubicle and creating work that resembles Art; work that goes viral and is the business or brand everyone is talking about. Stepping away from the every day and engaging in work that makes a difference in the world. Work that is brand new. Work that enters through the eyes and ears and seeps down into one’s very soul, drenching the spirit with a honey-like coating of something so remarkable, so incredible, that the lives of everyone who encounters it are impacted forever.
We’re talking life-changing work, people.
“Let us all turn inward,” they cry, “and be who we were meant to
be! Let us be painters and poets and singers and entrepreneurs and inventors
and photographers and dancers and create beauty and color and song and fill the
world with imagination and fancy! Let us be the Willy Wonka’s, but the Gene
Wilder version, ‘cause the Johnny Depp version was awful.”
And while all that’s fine
and good, I hate to burst the Utopia Work Bubble, but somebody’s got to clean
It has to get done. I mean, if not, they become dirty and smelly and gross and people cease to use them, which means people cease to use the building they are in. Imagine if no public bathroom anywhere was cleaned, because, you know, the fine people who use to clean them are out harnessing their soul and painting a cornfield somewhere. Because… creativity.
Oh, and while we were on the topic:
Somebody has to fix the leaky roof.
Somebody has to install the alarm system.
Someone has to grow the food.
Someone has to cook the food.
Someone has to serve the food.
Somebody has to pick up the garbage
Someone has to deliver the packages.
Someone has to paint the walls.
Someone has to sort the papers and file things and answer the
And therein lies the reason I give the “Do Work that Matters”
advice the stink eye.
See, we run into some pretty dangerous thinking when we start to
view THIS work as important and THAT work over there as not so much. “Do Work
that Matters” implies that if you aren’t engaging in ground-breaking,
life-changing work, then your work doesn’t matter, you know, much like an online photography degree or
And yet, if every person set down their plunger, took off their
headset and walked out of their cubicle, or left their UPS truck by the side of
the road, life as we know it would cease to exist.
See, what we fail to realize as we search for work that matters,
is that it’s not a matter of finding meaningful work; it’s a matter of finding
meaning in whatever work you do.
You can “Do Work that Matters” and design a building unlike
anything anyone has ever seen. It can be a marvel of engineering; a building so
cutting-edge that, once completed, the very angels in heaven descend to perch
atop its gilded towers and sing the “Hallelujah” chorus. You can design it, but
for that “Work that Matters” to become a reality, some folks are going to have
to show up with tool belts and hard hats. They are going to spend long hours in
the blazing sun. They will sweat and labor as they climb ladders and hammer
nails and turn that “work that matters” idea into an actual building.
Listen friends: there is no good work or bad work. And if anyone
tells you differently, they’ve got something to sell you. If you work, in any way, doing anything, it
matters. YOU matter. Just because you don’t do THAT job doesn’t mean YOUR job
isn’t important; it doesn’t mean you don’t add value to this world with your
Just because you don’t own the largest coffee chain in the world
doesn’t mean that your tiny corner coffee stand doesn’t impact your
Just because you don’t own Uber doesn’t mean that you don’t
impact each and every person that rides in your taxi.
Just because you haven’t a Grammy doesn’t mean that the church
choir you direct doesn’t impact every set of ears that hear it.
Meaningful work? People, there is meaning in all of it.
So go ahead and attend that TED Talk about creating work that
matters. Sit in your chair in that huge auditorium and allow your heart and
mind to be filled with possibilities. Dream your dreams. Make new goals. Decide
to take the plunge into whatever creative entrepreneurial pool you choose.
Applaud the speaker and leave, floating up the aisle on a cloud of
possibilities and determination.
But as you leave, notice the people entering the auditorium,
brooms, vacuums and wastebaskets in hand and remember these are the people that
allowed you the opportunity to sit in a clean auditorium. Glance at the chairs
and the carpet and the lights and curtains and the audio equipment and remember
that each of those things were made, shipped and installed by people; and while
they didn’t get applause, each one of those people made that TED Talk possible.