With Business portraits or headshots a very common questions is ‘What should I wear for my photo shoot?’ so often in fact, that I have a standard email that I can fire back to clients with a few general guidelines.

The email points out that, the main reason for business portraits – as well as showing your likeness – is to show your approachability, your professionalism and your confidence. With this in mind, it’s important that you are comfortable with your appearance as this helps build confidence when in front of the camera for your business portraits. My general tip is to think about how you would prepare yourself for a first meeting, or how you like to appear on a big posh night out – at least before it gets messy.

Most people want to appear ‘top-draw’ so on a personal grooming perspective: Guys that shave, shave that morning or evenly trim your facial hair. For ladies, hair brushed, pinned or similar and of course well applied make-up with everything on hand to re-apply just before the shoot. Jewellery should always be discreet.

Let’s turn to clothing. The main focus of any head shot or business portrait is to stand out from the background. This also means any clothing that’s very prominent is a distraction. There are exceptions for this – if you’re a clothing designer, then perhaps your designs should feature in your portrait. Something outrageous, even. For Tim, above right, chef’s whites form part of his role, so features in his photos. For everyone else, think ‘simplicity’.

Avoid having heavily patterned clothing as this is distracting in the final image, and in some cases, can create interference patterns with computer/phone screens. Similarly, avoid characters on clothing (Iron Man, Batman, Disney, Pixar, etc) or large logos. Again; it’s distracting and why would you want to feature another business’ brand?

Do you have a corporate colour? A nice approach for the photos is to incorporate this colour into your clothing as an accent. Another approach is having different textures of cloth that accent the clothing. This could be a tie, scarf or a nice belt or even a handkerchief in the top pocket of a jacket.

Also read: Business Portraits – What background should I have?

One other element worth considering is creating ‘separation’ between you and the background to the shot. So, for example, people look best wearing darker colours when photographed against a white background and for a dark background, a lighter colour palette for your clothing will work well. These guidelines work just as well if your background is an environment such as an office, factory or out in the open.


Simplicity rules for business portraits. Wear clothes that you feel good in and that will help you stand out from the background. Corporate colours as accents to your outfit may help generate branding – without featuring your business logo.