7 Professional Headshot Tips for Women: Look Great and Get Noticed

lifestyle headshot of female entrepreneur by Robin Collette Photography

April 7, 2021

You’re ready to exchange your outdated headshot for a better photo but how can you make sure you end up with one that you’ll love – and that will get you noticed?  As an experienced headshot and brand photographer in Sacramento I’ve helped numerous business women up-level their online presence with scroll-stopping images – and here I’m sharing how I do it with you!  Follow my professional headshot tips and you’ll not only look good in your photos, but will make a fab first impression – one that will help you stand out over your competition, grab the attention of your ideal clients and grow your business!

#1: Consider who you want to impress with your headshots

Ultimately, the purpose of your images is to convey something about you to your audience.  What type of people are in your audience and how do you want to be perceived?  Super professional?  More laid back?  Create your look with these things in mind.

Let’s take my client Rebecca, for example.  She’s an interior designer who’s clients are typically busy professionals.  Because she wants to be perceived as professional and confident, yet approachable I guided her to choose a business-casual look for her photos.

collage of professional headshots and brand images of female entrepreneur showing professional headshot tips

Holly, on the other hand, needed a more casual look.  As a health coach, she wants her audience to relate to her as someone on the journey with them.  So her outfits were true to her everyday style – something you might see her in at the grocery store or out and about with her kids.

business portrait of female sitting in front of yellow doors

#2: Wear an outfit that makes you feel amazing

If you feel like a rockstar in what you’re wearing, you’re going to show up like rockstar! And that confidence will radiate through your images.

Here are a few considerations I always share with my clients to help them decide on their outfits and show up looking and feeling their best.

Pay attention to fit and style

While it may seem like a no-brainer, make sure you wear something that fits you well and flatters your features.  You don’t want bra straps showing, gapping between shirt buttons, or shoulder seams that are gravitating toward your neck (or your elbows!).

In addition, choose a style in keeping with what you typically wear.  Not only will you feel uncomfortable if you try to rock a style that is not “you”, you’ve now got an outfit in our closet you’ll never wear again.

Generally, tops with simple necklines and simple accessories are best.  However, if you and your brand are more bold, then don’t be afraid to make more bold choices in your attire.  Are you a leopard print kind of gal? Are you never without your big hoop earrings?  Then go for it!  Just don’t take it too far as you want to keep the focus on you and not what you’re wearing.

Clean up well

Be sure your clothing is clean and wrinkle and stain free!  Will you be drinking coffee in the car on the way to your session?  Snuggling your fur baby before you leave? You may want to bring what you plan to wear in a garment bag and change into it when you arrive.

#3: Wear colors that compliment your skin tone as well as your brand colors

Choose clothing and accessories in colors that look good on you AND go well with your brand.   When everything is coordinated on your website and social pages, it’s going to add that extra umph and make you stand out.

Solid, more neutral colors typically photograph well, however, don’t be afraid to choose a muted print or a more bold color if it looks good on you and matches your brand colors.

Let’s take my client Kaitlin as an example.  Her brand colors are hot pink, light pink, yellow and white. Incorporating all of these into her outfit choices for her brand session help give a cohesive look to her web and social media presence.

collage of images of female in different poses and outfits for a professional headshot and brand brand session

#4: Create a camera-ready hair and makeup look

Ideally, hire a professional stylist to do your hair and makeup if you are able.  This will not only give you one less thing to think about, but you’ll be sure you’re camera ready.

If you’re opting to do it yourself, here are a few tips to follow:

Headshot Ready Hair

  • If you’re in need of a haircut or color, make your appointment at least one week before your photo session.  You want to have time to return to the salon if you need any adjustments.
  • Use products such as hairspray to help minimize stray hairs.

Headshot Ready Makeup

  • Stay away from products that add shimmer.  They can reflect light in unflattering way in your images.
  • Use a primer and concealer to help smooth out fine lines and cover blemishes or dark circles.
  • Apply your makeup in “good” light.  Using natural light, like in front of a window works great.  Make sure your face is lit evenly and one side is not shaded (i.e., face the window).

For additional makeup tips, watch this video.

#5: Don’t say “Cheese”!

You want your smile to look natural, so don’t be afraid to practice in the mirror.  However, keep in mind that a forced smile actually uses a different part of the brain and different muscles in your face. A natural smile will engage the muscles around the cheeks and eyes in addition to the mouth.

So, instead of “trying” to smile, giggle or think of someone who makes you happy.  If you’re working with a photographer, a skilled one will know how to bring a natural smile out of you.

As a headshot photographer, one of my favorite ways to get natural smiles out of my clients is to just be silly and joke around with them.  I might also ask her to show me how she would feel if she just made a million dollar sale, or were looking into the eyes of someone she loves.  Often the best smiles come when you’re not thinking about smiling at all!

business portrait of female taken by Robin Collette Photography; natural smile for professional headshot

#6: Know where you’ll be using your headshots

Where the photo is going to live matters! Do you need a landscape image with lots of negative space so you can use it as your website or facebook banner? Do you need a close up shot to use as a profile photo on Instagram or Linkedin?

It’s important to communicate this to your photographer so they will provide the appropriate crops and image sizes for you.  If you don’t know, then make sure you ask them for a variety in both landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) directions.

I like to discuss this with my clients before their session so we can plan accordingly.  How and where you’ll use your images will vary depending on your profession and your goals.

collage of three women's headshots by Robin Collette Photography; images demonstrating professional headshot tips

#7: Update your headshots often!

I’ve heard stories of people using the same headshot for decades.  While that alone won’t make or break your business, here are a few reasons why having a recent, stand-out headshot is important.

It creates authenticity

Not only do you want people to be able to recognize you, you want to come across as genuine. If how you look in person drastically differs from how you look in your photos, it creates a disconnect and may come across as inauthentic.

It allows more flexibility in the outfit you choose

I’ve often seen it recommended to wear something “timeless” for your headshots, staying away from current trends.  The idea is to prevent your photos from looking dated.

Personally, I’d rather you choose an outfit that you love and that shows some personality.  If that means a more trendy look, so be it.  We’re going to update your photos regularly, so it won’t matter!

headshot image of woman holding balloons

It boosts your confidence

While you may still like your current headshot, there’s still just something about using a fresh image – and the process of creating it – that can make you feel more confident.

This is one of the reasons I love what I do!  My headshot and brand sessions are about more than pretty pictures.  It is my goal to take you through an experience that will help you show up confidently as the face of your brand.

It provides new content for social media

If you opt for more than a single headshot, or upgrade to a brand session then you can end up with enough images to post on social media content for some time.  For example, my Brand Ignite Session comes with 90 images.  (You can find more details about this and other sessions HERE).

Are you ready to put these professional headshot tips into action?

If you’re a female entrepreneur in the Sacramento area in need of new photos for your business, check out my headshot and brand photography services here.


I’d love to learn about how I can help you and your business! Get in touch with me to have all your questions answered and find out if we’re a good fit!

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