Executive Portraits: Tips from a NYC Corporate Headshot Photographer

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

I hope you all are staying warm, despite the wretched snow that keeps blanketing the northeast. I am pleased to share with you a set of executive portraits I recently took here in Tampa with my client, Abdulla, who needed a professional headshot to help launch his new business. If you’re in the same position – like Abdulla – of needing a new photo to sell yourself and your business, I hope you’ll find these tips helpful in preparing for your shoot.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

First, let’s discuss what’s at stake with an executive headshot. Your professional portrait plays a huge role in a prospective client’s decision of whether or not to work with you. Your photo must at once express confidence, expertise, and openness. You are your brand, and it’s never possible to take back a negative first impression.

With this in mind, the most important factor to consider when preparing for your portrait is your clothing.

  • Your clothes should work to draw the client’s eye towards your face, and not in any way distract from making you the focus. To this end, pay special attention to the neckline of your outfit and make sure that your accessories are not competing with your face for a customer’s attention. Further, make sure that your neckline is not too revealing and that you are not showing either cleavage or an undershirt.
  • The level of formality in your clothing should reflect the level of formality of your industry. For a law office or corporation, that would most likely narrow down your choices to a business suit. But if your industry is more relaxed, then think about what you would wear to make a presentation to your most important clients or colleagues.
  • A blazer always conveys authority, even when paired with a tech start up t-shirt and jeans.
  • Dark colors work best to show power and confidence, from your tie to your shoes. Avoid wearing light colors, including a light grey suit or flesh tones such as beige, peach, pink, white, or yellow. In particular, make sure you are not wearing a stark white shirt unless it is layered underneath a suit jacket, cardigan or sweater.
  • A little bit of pattern goes a long way as bold prints, stripes, plaids, checks, or dots can be distracting to the eye of the viewer. Also, avoid anything too shiny, including a super shiny silk tie as it will create a moiré pattern effect on camera.
  • Other clothing items to avoid include turtlenecks and short sleeves.
  • Every item of clothing should be pressed and fit well as any wrinkle or stain will be magnified by the camera lens.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

Your hair and makeup also contributes to making sure you look polished and professional.

  • A natural look is always best. Make sure that your makeup looks like the real you, but perhaps with the volume turned up a notch. Focus on creating flawless skin and eyes that pop.
  • Bring along a hair brush and any product you might use to take care of last minute flyaways.
  • For men, I recommend shaving early in the day to let any razor burn or nicks heal in time for the shoot.
  • Avoid getting a hair cut a few days before a shoot so that you don’t look like you just came back from the barber. For that matter, don’t dye your hair right before a shoot as the color will be too vibrant to read as natural.
  • Don’t forget to check your teeth and handle any whitening issues at least a week prior to your shoot.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

The best way to prepare for a shoot is to get ready the week prior to the day you are due to step in front of the camera.

  • Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, and avoid alcohol and smoking in order to prevent bloodshot eyes, wrinkles, and undereye circles. The camera can tell if you are rested and properly hydrated.
  • Details matter: from making sure that your outfit is pressed the night before, to getting a manicure, all of these things combine to show clients that you are personally and professionally put together from head to toe.
  • Take a few minutes to practice your ‘look’ in a mirror at home. Practice getting the look you want, and try to train your muscle memory to recreate that look in front of the camera.
  • Make sure you communicate to your photographer the look you are trying to project. Visual examples are the best tools for making sure that you get the photo you want. I find it best to work with clients by using Pinterest to create a visual mood board, but you can also share links to other websites or photos that convey your brand.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

Most importantly, relax and enjoy the experience. This is your ‘star’ moment!


An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

An executive portrait by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams.

To view other photos by NYC corporate headshot photographer, Kelly Williams, please visit her website portfolio.

 

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