How to Prepare & What to Wear When Having a Professional Business Portrait Taken

These days everyone needs a great business portrait. Be it for social media profiles, your company website, speaking engagements, it is important to have a portrait that shows you at your best.

Most people are unaccustomed to having their portrait taken and have questions about how to prepare so they get the best results. The choices that you make will partially be determined by standards in your industry, what tone you wish the pictures to convey, what the setting will be, i.e. studio or outdoors, and how the portraits will be used.

Things to Consider Before Hiring a Portrait Photographer

1. How and where will the pictures be used?

2. What sort of background do I want for the pictures? - a studio setting, nature or the outdoors, an office or a home environment?

3. What tone do I want the portraits to convey?

How to Groom for Your Portrait Session

Grooming for Women

1. Hair: Plan to have your hair done the morning of, or the day before, the photo session. This can include a cut, a dye job, a wash and blow out, or all of them. Being happy with how your hair looks is a big part of being happy with the final results.

2. Make-Up: Option 1: Consider having your make-up professionally applied. Hiring a make-up stylist that comes to the photo shoot prior to your session to apply your make-up and style your hair is one way to go.  I highly recommend this option as it improves the results enormously and how happy you are with the way you look. Option 2: Another, more economical make-up option is to have your make-up done at a department store counter. Tell the stylist that you are having your portrait shot. They should know what is best. Often the make-up application is free and they hope you will buy one or more of the products. Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and others will make appointments for this service. If you go with option 2, have your hair done before going to your make-up appointment. This way, when you walk out of the department store you can head directly to your portrait session.

Grooming for Men

1. Hair: Plan to have your hair cut the week of, or day before, or the morning of the photo session. This can include a cut, a shave or any grooming details needed. This is a good time to see if nose or ear hair are in check. Being happy with how your hair looks is a big part of being happy with the final results.

2. Make-Up: While most men don't usually wear any make-up, having a make-up stylist on the set of the photo shoot makes a huge difference in the results. The stylist will do grooming touch ups, cover any blemishes, deal with shiny skin, trim a mustache or beard and overall make you look great. You would truly be surprised how much this helps.

What to Wear for Your Business Portrait

Accessories & Eyewear

1. Eyeglasses: Decide if you want to be wearing your glasses in your portrait. If you are known for wearing them all the time then it might be a good idea to do so for your portraits as that is how people see you. Doing a combination of some with glasses and some without gives a nice variety of shots to choose from.

If you have a pair of glasses with non-reflective lens, bring them to the shoot.  Bring a selection of frames if you can.

2. Jewelry: Let your industry and what tone you want to set be the guide for what jewelry you might wear. When in doubt, keep it simple, elegant and timeless.


1. For both men and women, choose business attire - whatever that means for your industry. This can be casual or dressier.

2. Bring at least 2 “looks”. For men bring 2-3 long sleeved business shirts, business jackets and tie options so we have a few styles and colors from which to select. For women – V-neck or scooped neckline tops work well with a jacket. Solids or very minimal / subtle patterns work best to keep the focus on your face. Bring both light and dark options. Be sure the clothing is as new as possible (not faded or over washed), or has recently been cleaned, has no frays, piling or lint visible.

The Final Results

If you follow these preparation suggestions, the quantity of image choices will be greater. You will be much happier with the outcome and will use the pictures more often and for longer. Going the extra mile to make the images their best will give you the best value for your time and money invested.

Visit my professional business portraits and headshot portfolios to get ideas for how you might approach your portrait session! I am always happy to discuss ideas on how to best approach a portrait shoot with you. Please feel free to give me a call at 415-640-7506.