How A Headshot Session Works

Relax, we've got this

We have a tested process we follow that ensures you have a relaxing and productive headshot session. Together, we will capture amazing images.

As with many things, however, preparation is key. So we have developed the following information to help you look and feel great, to remove questions and anxiety.

What should I expect?

Come in, take your coat and shoes off. This is a relaxing, sock-friendly studio.

There is no time limit. No pressure.

Our goal is nothing less than capturing the best image of you that you've ever had taken. Sometimes that takes just five minutes, sometimes 120. But we won't stop until you are absolutely pleased with the results.

Our goal is to create images that show you as confident and authoritative, yet approachable.

First, we'll take a few minutes to get acquainted. I need to get an idea of the kind of images you want to create, your profession, what you are seeking to communicate, etc. We'll also talk a bit about posture and expression, about micro-expressions, and wardrobe choices.

I will then direct and guide you to your best posture and expression, to show off your best side, your most attractive smile, your most engaging expression.

Hundreds of clients have come before you, and I have a well-tested system to capture amazing images.

In the course of our session, I will fire off hundreds of exposures, depending on the number of wardrobe changes and backgrounds, or the look we are going for. And I will have the camera tethered to my computer and large-screen TV, so we can review the results immediately, make adjustments, and constantly improve.

After we are both satisfied that we have enough to work with, you can change back into the clothes you came in, we can grab a coffee, tea, or water, and then we'll review your images together, keeping only those images that we both like – we're aiming for a dozen great shots – and torching the rest (all images not chosen by you are permanently deleted). From there, you will pick your absolute favorites – those you want to be professionally edited and retouched.

That's all there is to it. Really.

What do I get?

Each chosen image is professionally retouched and delivered electronically in a few days. Images are provided as high-resolution print versions and smaller web-resolution versions. I am also happy to supply each image as a properly-converted black and white portrait, if that is something you can use.

There are no watermarks, no photographer's name plastered over the photo, no hidden fees, no upsells.

Am I limited to close-up headshots?

Absolutely not. That is the preferred, classic style, but we also are happy, after capturing "the usual," to break things up, mess with lighting, bring in some props, and capture images that are more like what we would do in a portrait shoot, with half- or full-body shots. We can even do some shots outdoors if your needs extend to that and the weather and sun cooperate.

Can I bring a friend or spouse?

Yes, but after introductions, we will send them out to the coffee shop or bookstore (thankfully, we have the best of both right downstairs) until we are done (be sure they know that this may take 45-120 minutes).

Our process requires a distraction-free, unconstrained, judgment-free zone.

While family members and friends love you and are surely well-intentioned, they will be a distraction, and they will skew your judgment in undesirable ways. That is experience talking.

Design by committee does not work. No one knows you better than yourself, and with a professional photographer standing next to you (focusing on what people who don't know you will see in the final image), you are the person best qualified to judge your personal image.

My experience has shown that this environment helps people make far better image choices, and of course, taking and choosing the best possible images is our ultimate goal.

Can I get a gallery of all the images and have others help me choose?

That is not how I work, so if that is what you want, you should look for another photographer.

My process, honed from working with hundreds upon hundreds of clients, is a very focused, intentional collaboration in the studio. The choices need to be made by those who have been directly engaged in our collaborative creative process and be based on what we see and discuss in the studio.

Without exception, whenever non-participant opinions have been brought into the selection process, that process has suffered.

What do you mean by "retouched"?

We will soften the effects of the lighting. We will correct things like flyaway hairs, blemishes, and forehead or nose shine. We will obliterate muffin crumbs that clung to your shirt, unsightly shirt wrinkles, ketchup on your tie, etc. We will brighten your eyes and teeth, even out skin tones, and clean up any irregularities in the background.

We will not reshape your face. Our general rule is that, if it is something that won't be there in two weeks (like a blemish, say), we remove it. We can remove moles or scars, but we generally don't recommend that.

The final images will look polished and professional, but natural. They should look like you on your best day, and not greatly differ from the person who people will see showing up in person.

How should I prepare?

Don't overthink this. Relax. Get a good night's sleep. Drink plenty of water. Expect to have a fun, relaxing, informative experience.

What else?

Bring the clothes and accessories you like best and feel most comfortable in. What is most timeless. To help you further prepare, we have notes below for all clients. Please read through it all to help maximize your benefit from this experience.


  • Bring your favorite outfit. ALWAYS bring your favorite, go-to work outfit, what you would wear to the most important meeting where you need to look your best. (Note: We don't have any clothing or accessories in the studio.)
  • In general, I recommend bringing four or more of your best-fitting tops.
  • Stick to solid colors (patterns can often date a photo) and simple necklines.
  • How your clothes fit is important. Don't bring baggy shirts or tops. Skip the polo shirts. They look floppy on camera. Well-ironed dress shirts or a new black tee is pretty hard to beat.
  • It's also pretty hard to go wrong with black. Classic whites and greys are also a good choice.
  • A mixture of professional and casual, offbeat and fun, textured, and not. Baggy (or wrinkled) is not good. Please don't stuff everything into a bag. Bring it on hangars. Yes, I have a steamer, but time spent smoothing wrinkles is time lost in front of the camera.
  • Stay away from bright and loud (unless that is the look you are going for) or anything else that takes attention away from your face. But feel free to bring something fun if you want to create a few images of you that have a more colorful, less traditional look.
  • Stay away from frills and unusual tops. What seems like a tiny bit of flair in real life can often be overpowering in a close-up headshot. We don't want anything to distract from your face.
  • Please leave all shoulder pads at home, they are not welcome here.
  • In general, plain is better than patterned, and pastel or natural earth-tone colors are better than bold colors – again, unless that is integral to your look.
  • If you want to shoot some full- or half-body portraits, consider your full head-to-toe outfits, including shoes.
  • We're not limited to dressy here. Bring some more casual looks: leather jackets (definitely!), a turtleneck, high-quality tees, fun dresses, or maybe even a cool hat.
  • If we are going to shoot you in a dress shirt, especially with a tie, bring well-fitting shirts (skin bulging out of a collar and airspace between neck and collar are both to be avoided). An oversized dress shirt or sport coat looks awful on camera. Collars should be crisp or have stays. We want shirts with structure, and no curly collars.
  • If we are shooting you in a coat and tie, bring three or more well-pressed, solid-color shirts, and three complimentary, non-flashy ties (unless, of course, that's your thing). Stick with well-tailored jackets and bring a couple you like that work with the shirts and tie.


  • If you wear glasses and have more than one pair, bring them all. This is because we may want to try different looks, but also because some glasses are just impossible reflection magnets, and it is good to have alternatives.
  • What about jewelry? We are here to capture your story, not that of your jewelry. But if bold, colorful jewelry is part of that story, bring it along. Yet in most cases, simple jewelry or no jewelry at all is the best way to keep the viewer's attention on your face. Again: understated and simple is best for an enduring image, particularly in business.


  • If you shave, come freshly shaven and trimmed, including nose and ear hairs, and any eyebrow hairs gone wild. If you want to look clean-shaven, shave a few hours before our session. If you want the stubbly look, that's fine. But note that we cannot remove a 5 o'clock shadow with Photoshop.
  • If you have a beard or mustache, trim it up neatly and clean up the edges, especially along the neck for a clean look. Straggling hairs jump out and yell for attention.
  • If you are going to get a haircut or some coloring done, be sure to do it two or three days before our shoot.
  • You should arrive with your makeup and hair good to go – how you normally look. Fresh, natural, and classic are always best. Cameras tend to accentuate things, so less is more, and understated and subtle are the watchwords. Go easy on the base and especially light on eye makeup and mascara.
  • Go with the minimal amount of makeup you are comfortable with. Of course, if you want to go for a more dramatic, edgy look, by all means, let's do it. But you might want to bring whatever tools and supplies you need to remove or remake things mid-shoot, in case you change your mind. Try to avoid makeup with an SPF, which causes more shine.
  • If you don't normally wear makeup, you may want to use a bit of moisturizer ahead of time, as a high-res camera will pick up on dry skin. The same goes with lips – dry lips are not a good look; bring some lip balm if you think you are going to need it.
  • In a headshot photo, eyeliner can be very distracting. I generally recommend not applying eyeliner (or a very light application) at all.
  • If you want to put on lipstick and/or lip gloss, this is fine, but be mindful that this could be the only accent color in your headshot, and it might attract more attention than you expect. Subtle is usually better. But lip gloss can be good (if not glossy), especially when we are dealing with the dry air of winter.

 Download the above clothing, makeup, etc. preparation notes as a printable PDF.



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