Business Portraits – What to Wear

A picture is worth a thousand words. How do I choose the best “look” and setting for my portrait?

It all depends on what you want your image to say about you. Ask yourself what you want the tone of your portrait to be:

  • Serious or smiling?
  • Powerful or approachable?
  • Moody lighting or soft, bright beauty lighting?

Your personality and business might call for your portrait to be taken on location rather than the studio.

  • If you are an executive, you might want your portrait taken in your corner office overlooking the city.
  • If you want an image that is more natural, opt for a park setting.
  • If you want more traditional lighting and backgrounds, you’ll probably want your pictures done in-studio.

What type of clothes should I wear?

This image will be used to represent you and/or your company so you need to dress accordingly. You’ll want to wear professional business attire that is classic and timeless so you can use your photos for years to come.

  • Men should wear a suit jacket, sweater, or a nice dress shirt.
  • Women should wear a blouse or a tailored jacket.
  • It is best to wear long sleeve shirts for your portrait. Long sleeves are much more flattering on arms than short.

You also want to be somewhat comfortable in what you’re wearing or your picture will look stiff and unnatural. But be aware of clothing that wrinkles easily as that will look sloppy and unprofessional.

What colors photograph best/worst?

  • Solid colors photograph best, and most people look good in midtones (green, blue, brown, etc.).
  • Avoid white and colors that approximate your flesh tones (this might be beige, tan, or very pale peach, pink, and gray).
  • Avoid wearing clothing with patterns or accessories that distract from your face. Very bright reds, yellows and oranges can also be distracting.

Should I wear jewelry?

Jewelry can be a great accessory to your outfit, but should not distract from your face. Less is usually more. Necklaces look best when they are shorter and mimic the neckline of your shirt.

How much makeup should I apply?

  • Wear what you would for a nice evening out. Well done, but not overdone.
  • Avoid overly glossy or shimmery makeup as it will catch the light and be distracting.
  • If you normally don’t wear makeup, your pictures will look better if you at least wear foundation. This will help even out your skin tone and mascara to define your eyes.
  • Bring extra powder as you’ll want to reapply during the shoot to avoid shine.
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