What to Wear in a Headshot...

I love actors to work in terms of ‘type’. Don’t be afraid, the word isn’t actually that scary. Ask yourself, what/who can I play, or realistically be called in for, then choose outfits that best fit your types! If your type is bubbly, trendy, girl next door, Zooey Deschanel type, then look at what Zooey Deschanel wears and bring those items in to your session. I.e. flirty, brightly colored dresses that are form fitting but perhaps with a bit of lace/buttons/trimmings etc. If you’re type is edgy, smoldering, bad boy, Channing Tatum type, bring in a fitted tank with a worn leather jacket. 

Picking the right looks should be the easy part. You do have the ability to use google image search, and I would suggest it. 

Now, the tricky part is finding items that look GOOD on camera. 

Let’s talk COLORS:

Tertiary colors are always winners in headshots. Salmon, brick, moss, taupe. jewel tones, or gemstone tones, also look GREAT on camera. Ruby reds instead of bright reds, Amethyst, Emerald, Sapphire… get it? Colors to avoid: Black, and grey! Black, absorbs light and can look flat as a board on camera, not showing your shape. Grey, well, most casting directors say that grey says nothing at all about your personality and is as boring as watching an old woman knit. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t find it naturally occurring in a fruit or vegetable or MEAT, it’s probably worth staying away from.


Choose fabrics that have some texture, cotton that is woven with different values, some light, or dark areas. Silk reflects light nicely, so does leather/chiffon/denim. If you MUST use black, then use a black garment made of silk or leather, and these will illuminate areas of the garment that are usually lost in cotton, and add in some shape. Garments that have unique stitching, or are woven are great choices. Texture provides shape, and shape is interesting to look at.


While we’re on the subject… if your photographer allots you three different looks, why on earth would you bring in three v-neck t-shirts in three different colors? This is your opportunity to showcase all that you are! Get funky, get unique. Sure, bring in the standard v-neck t-shirt or tank top, but then bring a jacket to layer on top, your next two outfits should be completely different. Some agents, managers and CDs LOVE seeing your bare skin, while others HATE it. It’s all subjective. So why not bring in a mixture of items so you have a shot to appease any opinion. The general consensus on this is, make sure what you are wearing FITS and doesn’t drown your physique. No ‘potato sacks’ is what I like to say!


I love patterns! However, try to avoid super small patterns, like tight stripes or small polka dots. They will ‘dance’ on camera, also known as moire. (Refer to the dancing lines post made more recently.) Large patterns usually photograph well, but make sure they don’t distract from your face. Ask a friend or colleague for advice if you’re not sure. Some fabrics, like linen, are stitched with tiny tiny stitching in different values that can also give the appearance of a small pattern that will ‘dance’. Best thing to do is give yourself a picture check! Use your camera phone to take a couple pictures of the garment, in different positions. Is it dancing? 

What’s over used?

Glad you asked. Colors that match your eyes, how many eye colors are out there? Brown, blue, green, grey….? That doesn’t leave us many options. Chances are, it’s been done before. I was looking through my proofing gallery the other day, which displays 5 clients at once, showcasing the first image I took from each client. I realized the gallery looked like this: blue, pink, blue, pink, blue. Think blue and pink might be overused? You guessed right! MEN, light blue, button up, collared shirts are the MOST commonly chosen headshot item. WOMEN, cobalt blue, ribbed tank top is the MOST commonly chosen headshot item.

In conclusion… get clever, be unique, be over prepared with choices, and remember, everything is subjective! The best thing you can do is give options! Happy searching! :-)

For more advice regarding colors, patterns, textures, and more, email me or inquire in the ask box.