January 11, 2019

Professional Development

A Professional Headshot, and A Good One

By: Jon Meadows

Young professionals need professional headshots; not the stuffy, stiff headshots like your parents got, but modern headshots that show your personality and convey your confidence and approachability.

The value of a headshot cannot be overstated. Young professionals have less experience, so creating a strong first impression with employers through your headshot puts you a step ahead of your competition.

Here are a few tips to make your next headshot session a success:


-Make sure to bring attire that fits you well. Baggy or tight clothing does not look professional, and, in most cases, it makes you look heavier than you are.

-I recommend traditional solid colors or patterns that are simple and won’t distract from you! A bold yellow may work, but you’re safer with white, a darker gray, or blues. For a suit jacket, solid colors are great, but a light pinstripe or other subtle pattern is okay.


-I would not recommend getting a haircut within three days of the headshot session unless you consistently love how your hair looks right after a haircut. Don’t repeat a previous client’s mistake of getting a haircut on the way to the headshot session, leaving them with tiny hairs all over their face!

-Bring anything that would help tame flyaways, if you think that may be an issue in your headshot.

-Shave and trim any hairs on your head that you want trimmed. That obviously means standard facial hair like beards, but it also includes eyebrows, nose hair, and ear hair if it’s a particularly noteworthy feature!


-Unless you have a significant skin condition, I do not recommend makeup for men.

-Light, natural-looking makeup is best for headshots, unless heavier makeup is something you can’t live without, and without which other people wouldn’t recognize you.

-Eyeliner can be especially distracting in a headshot. I generally prefer no eyeliner, but I suggest an especially light application if my clients are committed to using it.


-Jewelry can be a distraction from connecting with you, a distraction from your facial expression. I almost always prefer no jewelry, or minimum jewelry, to keep the attention on you. We don’t want people connecting with your jewelry when they see your headshots; we want them connecting with you!

Editor’s Note: Over the next month, AFF chapters in Raleigh, Indianapolis, and Columbus will be hosting events at which you can put these tips into practice in your own new professional headshots. For those in DC, Jon is a headshot photographer and facial expression coach at High-End Headshots. Check out our bio page to see some of his work!