Be confident for your photos with these tips from a professional photographer about what to wear for a personal brand headshots photo session.

Getting ready for a photo session can be stressful, right?

Especially, if that session is just for pictures of YOU!

More and more businesses expect employees to have professional headshots to use on LinkedIn.

And if you have a blog or small business, YOU are the face for your brand.

A personal branding session is different from business headshots. The goal for these kinds of photos is to reflect your personality to help your followers connect with you!

But.

If you’re anything like AnnMarie and me, being in front of a camera can feel awkward.

In fact, that’s a big part of why I became a photographer!

After all, if you’re the one holding the camera, you don’t have to be the one posing for the photos…

However, after 11 years as a professional photographer, I’ve learned some things that can help you get ready for any photo session, including one for personal branding.

Choosing a Personal Branding Photographer

First, include the phrase “personal brand photographer” in your search.

These types of sessions are different from business headshots, and finding a photographer who is familiar with personal branding can make a big difference.

Next, be sure to pick a photographer you feel comfortable with!

Don’t rely on email communication.

Pick up your phone and talk to different photographers.

Do you “click” with them when you’re talking?

(sorry, I couldn’t resist being punny)

Get referrals and check out their photos.

And while you’re at it, contact the referrals and see how their experience was with that photographer.

Next, check into whether the photographer offers any kinds of special programs specifically for personal branding.

After all, you may need photos to use for your blog or social media throughout the year.

That can provide a photographer with reliable income so ask if they offer a contract that includes a discount for multiple sessions during a set period of time.

I like to tell my clients: “At your session, we’re gonna chat and joke, and basically, hang out. I’ll just happen to have my camera with me. I’ll give you some cues to help you look your best. And we’ll take a lot of pictures so you’ll have lots of choices.”

Finally, be sure you work out the details. A few things to confirm:

  • Approximately how many photos you will receive from the session
  • Will the photos be edited to work with your brand, or will you have permission to alter the images to fit your brand’s look
  • What’s the turnaround time for getting your photos
  • Will you have print and usage rights to use the images any way you need to for your brand
  • Is retouching included in the cost

Don’t Forget the Props!

I highly recommend planning to bring props that help you reflect your brand, and what you do, with you to the session.

For example, are you a baker? Don’t forget an apron, and a mixing bowl, and some other baking-related props!

Are you a writer? Then be sure to bring your laptop and your favorite notebook and pen!

Is crafting your thing? Then throw your supplies and even some finished crafts into a tote to bring with you.

Are you a DIY blogger? Don’t forget to bring some fun tools with you! Maybe even ask if your session can take place in a room you’ve transformed!

Can’t do without coffee? Then bring your favorite mug or a cup from your favorite brand!

Do you share fitness and wellness tips? Maybe bring some weights or a scale with you. Or some healthy food. And possibly consider some great workout clothing!

Get creative here, and think of ways to help show what you do in your photos.

What to Wear for Personal Brand Headshots

And now, the number one question my clients ask: what should I wear?

Here are some basic tips to help you look your best for your personal brand headshots!

Wear solid colors

Even if your style is more flamboyant and you love all the patterns, our goal is for YOU to shine in your photos, not your clothes.

There are exceptions to every rule, though!

If there’s a patterned item you really want to wear, bring it along to your session and we’ll figure out the best location to make it work. Just be sure to bring some solid items too.

For instance, Kristin loved this floral dress and it really fit her personality and brand so we made it work with a garden background!

Wear your brand colors and/or represent your brand! 

The entire reason for taking personal brand photos is to have images to use on your website, blog, and social media, so keep your brand’s colors and style in mind when you’re choosing what to wear.

This is the perfect time to rep your brand by wearing your colors!

Have fun logo gear or merch? Bring it along!

Also, think about the image and aesthetic you’ve cultivated on your Instagram feed and wear colors and styles that will help your account to look cohesive.

For instance, Michele has created a distinctive soft, feminine vibe on her decor account and blog, so these colors blended perfectly on her feed.

You can even stick with a neutral color scheme and add in your brand colors using accessories.

Which brings us to…

Accessorize!

Accessories like jewelry, scarves, or a hat can take your outfit to the next level.

Just remember: less is more when it comes to accessories.

Pick one amazing statement piece to work as a focal point for each outfit. For example, a fantastic pair of earrings OR a gorgeous necklace.

An easy way to change up your images without a full clothing change is by swapping out different accessories.

So don’t despair if you can’t choose: we can start out with those earrings, and then switch to that necklace!

Be comfortable, be YOU!

Remember Goldilocks?

When you choose what to wear for your photo session, follow her lead: don’t wear anything that’s too looseor too tight.

Choose clothes that fit just right!

Not only will you feel more comfortable, but you’ll also look better in your pictures. Another thing to keep in mind, your personal brand headshots session isn’t the time to change your style.

If your style is more about jeans and a cute top, then don’t pick a flowy romantic dress for your session.

Remember, the point of these photos is to show off who you are.

Think layers.

One way to get a wider variety of photos is changing accessories, another way is to think layers.

Bring along a cardigan and a jacket for a fast wardrobe “change.”

Mary wore an amazing necklace that looked fantastic with her black tank shell.

And then had a matching cardigan that easily gave her two different looks.

She could have made things look even more different by swapping her statement necklace for a scarf or a large pair of earrings!

Woman wearing a sweater set and statement necklace for personal brand photography photo session

It’s not as easy to change bottoms in public, but wear a camisole or tank top under your top and you can swap out several different blouse and shirt options. A long, pull-on skirt is a great way to change your bottoms discretely!

Also, consider some different shoes for an easy way to change the way an outfit looks. 

Here are some more examples of images from personal brand photo sessions.

A few Don’ts, or What Not to Wear…

These aren’t absolute rules, just a few things to consider to help you feel happy with your photos.

  • A V-neck or open collar or cold-shoulder style generally look great but be careful that the neckline isn’t too low and that any cutouts aren’t showing more than you want.
  • If you hate the way your arms look, you might want to avoid tank tops or sleeves that cut off in the middle of your upper arm. Or be sure to bring along a cardigan or jacket!
  • Some patterns can create a moiré pattern effect on the camera, so please avoid clothes with tight grids, narrow stripes, or a small herringbone pattern! There’s no way to fix how that moiré effect displays online (although it generally won’t show up in printed images).

That’s it! You’ve got everything you need to have a great session.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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2 Comments on Personal Brand Headshots: How to Plan What to Wear

    • Anne does such amazing work! I’ve loved all of the family photos she’s done for me over the years. It’s good to have a friend who’s a photographer! 😉

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