While there are some general guidelines that apply in most instances, a major factor in determining if you’re ready for your professional headshot is understanding who is paying for the professional portrait: your or your company?

The photo below shows a woman who is the executive director of a chamber of commerce photographed against a real graffiti wall. She told me her fun-loving personality did not go with a boring gray background. She knows her board of directors are OK with her personal expression of who she is.

Contrast that story with a company photo shoot we did around the holidays where one of the VIP executives wore his Christmas tie, a season tradition he set for himself. HR was not happy with his choice of tie wear and had to pay extra to Photoshop a solid color instead.

If the headshot is company-sponsored, ask HR if they have a “cheat sheet” of dos and don’ts to give you the guidance needed to get ready. If you’re paying, then you have lots to talk over with your photographer – ahead of shoot day. For example:

  • How are the photos going to be used?
  • Do you need a formal and/or casual look?
  • Do you want more than one clothing change?
  • In-studio or on location?
  • Is the background a solid color? Muted pattern? Tied to your company colors?
  • Do you want a headshot? Working shot? Both?

By hiring a pro, you can feel comfortable with your photographer discussing the pros and cons. You want to be ecstatic with the results and planning ahead helps ensure this outcome.