Session Guide for
Business Portraits or Personal Branding Portraits

I'm so glad that you've booked your business/personal branding portrait session with me.  We are going to create some beautiful portraits that will help you to project your very best image.  Proper preparation will help me to capture you looking and feeling your best, so here are a few tips I hope will help you get ready for your session.

Clothing Style

For my regular business or personal branding session I generally try to capture three different looks for your portraits -  formal business, contemporary classic, and one of your choice. If you are only doing a mini-session with only one outfit then I recommend the formal business clothing.

  • Bring one outfit that would be what you would wear in your more formal business setting.   Select a suit or outfit that has a professional look.  Something appropriate for an interview or important client meeting is ideal. A layered look with a jacket is perfect! 

  • Bring one outfit that is more classic such as a tailored dress, or cocktail dress, or a dressy top and pants.

  • Bring two outfits of your choice.  These outfits can vary depending on the image you are trying to project in your portraits.  These outfits can be glamorous and elegant, or casual and comfortable, or a combination.  If you aren't sure it's probably best to bring a few more contemporary classic outfits. We probably won't use both of these outfits, but it will give us some extra choices if we need them.

  • Choose fitted clothing.  Fitted clothing is more flattering in photographs than loose, flowing clothing.  This is true for everyone, but even more so if you are a bit more curvy.  

  • Necklines:    V-necks look good on most women and accentuate the neck, creating a slimming effect.  Just make sure the neckline does not plunge too low.  Simple scoop necks are also acceptable.  However, do not wear turtle necks because the will make you look like you have no neck.  Blouses with ruffles or excessive bulk around the neckline can draw to much attention to your bust line, which will make you appear wider in your portraits.  

  • Sleeve length:  Avoid short sleeves and sleeveless tops for your business portrait.  This is not considered a “professional” look.  Business portraits look best without bare arms.  You can however wear a short top underneath a jacket or cardigan, just make sure the arms are covered for portraits.   If you want to vary your sleeves feel free to do so in your classic outfit and other optional outfits. 

  • Bring well fitting undergarments that are appropriate for each outfit that you bring.  

  •  Business portraits look best with no jewelry at all, or something small, classic, and not very reflective or flashy. Do not wear dangly earrings. Again, you may want to save the jewelry until your optional outfits, but even then be careful not to make them too large or chunky or they will draw attention away from your face.  

  • For indoor portraits you will not be wearing shoes so don't worry about bringing them.  For outdoor portraits, bring comfortable walking shoes along with shoes to match your outfits.

  • The day before your session make sure you try on your outfits to make sure everything fits and looks great. Make sure that your clothing is cleaned, ironed, de-linted, etc.

Clothing Color

For  Business Portraits and Personal Branding Portraits I generally use neutral colored backdrops, so most clothing colors will work well.  Here are a few colors that I know photograph well and match my style and backdrops.

  • Dark, such as black, navy, or charcoal.  I highly recommend bringing at least one dark outfit because they are flattering and work well with everyone.  A dark suit jacket works great for the corporate portrait and a black cocktail dress is an excellent choice for your classic look.

  • Color.  Most colors photograph well, except for hot neon colors so please avoid those colors.  Some examples of colored clothing would be, a colored blouse under a suit jacket for a formal business portrait, a colored dress for a classic portrait, or jeans and a colored top for a more casual look.  

  • Light and ethereal, such as light shade of nude, blush, light pink, white, cream, etc.  These colors look beautiful in fabrics that are sheer, gauzy, or soft and are especially great colors if you want to project a soft, feminine image.   Some examples of using light ethereal colors would be a light colored suit jacket along with a neutral colored blouse to create a softer business portrait.  A light colored lace or chiffon dress would be lovely for your classic look.  A sheer blouse layered over a tank top along with dress pants or leggings, or a gauzy blouse with jeans makes a great casual look.

  • Sparkly.   Gold, silver, black, grey, champagne colors are lovely.  This is a perfect choice if you would like to project a more elegant or glamorous image.  Sparkly outfits work best for your classic or optional outfits.  Some ideas include a beaded cocktail or evening gown, a glittery top or cardigan with dress pants, a sequin tank with leggings, or even a sparkly scarf or shawl that can be draped over a more neutral colored dress.

  • Please bring only solid color clothing.  Patterns and prints are too distracting. They take attention away from your face and your eyes in the portrait.  Instead, choose clothing with texture, such as beading, lace, or embroidery.  This adds visual interest to your portrait without taking attention away from your face. Wearing layers is also another way to add visual interest. A patterned blouse under a suit jacket is fine.

  • If you are bringing a suit or suit jacket please bear in mind that clothing with tight grids or a small herringbone pattern can have a moiré pattern effect on camera, so stay away from grid-like patterns. Thin stripes are okay.

  • For other clothing ideas  and tips, please see my pinterest page


Body Preparation

  • Prepare for your headshot by taking care of yourself in the week leading up to your headshot. Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking, and drink plenty of water for a few days and on the day of your headshot. This will make your skin very hydrated to fill in lines and wrinkles, undereye circles, and give you a healthy glow. Get plenty of sleep the night before your photo so you're rested and ready to go. 
  • Use moisturizer on your skin daily, even your hands.  Also use lip balm regularly the week before your session.  This will also make you look healthy and glowing for your photographs.
  • Don't worry about any pimples or skin flare ups.  These things happen!  Your images will be retouched, so your skin will look beautiful in your finished portraits!
  • Tweeze your brows the day before your session.
  •  If you want to whiten your teeth before your session, start as early as possible and use a natural whitening method, or have your teeth whitened with your dentist. If you don't have time, then rest assured that your finished portraits will be retouched which includes subtle teeth whitening.
  • Do not apply self-tanner.  It will make your skin look orange in your portraits.  If you normally get a spray tan book it a couple of days before your session.
  • Don't make any major changes to your hair.  You can get a trim but a new haircut looks its best after at least a week.
  • Don’t color your hair right before the shoot. Freshly colored hair can look too vibrant and unnatural on camera- drawing more attention to your hair than your face. Colored hair looks more natural after 1-2 weeks’ worth of shampooing.
  • Don't forget about your nails.  Get, or give yourself a manicure.  Choose natural or neutral colors that will go with all of your clothing and not be distracting.
  • If you have chosen to use my professional hair and makeup artist, please come to your session with a clean,  lightly moisturized, but make-up free face, ready for the make-up artist to work her magic.  Also please come with your hair styled in a style that is normal for you.  My makeup-artist will touch it up after she does your makeup.
  • If you have chosen to do your hair and makeup yourself, please refer to my hair and makeup tips page. 


I hope this session guide has helped you!  If you want a second opinion on your clothing choices just give me a call, or  feel free to take a quick photo of the clothing you are planning to wear and email it to me, or text it to me at 403-680-8039.  If you have questions about what to bring, or anything else, just let me know.  I looking forward to working with you!