Five Tips for a Great Portrait

Think of a photo as your representative when you aren’t there in person. It speaks for you, but you tell it what to say. It’s not only professionals who need a photo-representative, everyone should have a great portrait. Whether you need an update to a professional headshot or a social media profile picture, these five tips will make the process a lot easier.

Be yourself
Everyone I know has something(s) they are self-conscious about. If you can accept that as part of who you are, as you are now, then it will make this experience far less stressful. You can always problem solve ahead of time… if you don’t like your elbows then wear a long sleeve shirt, your hair gets frizzy outside? do an in-studio session. Or you might mention your concerns to the photographer ahead of time so they can offer suggestions and reassurance. Saying “just photoshop me” isn’t the way to go, that’s not who you are, this is the time to let your natural beauty shine.

Your best self
For women, there are internet videos and tutorials on how to achieve a natural makeup look. Even if you normally go all-natural, wearing a well-blended foundation evens out your skin, mascara and lip balm add to a polished look. If you have your own makeup style then definitely work that look and bring a little kit for touch-ups as needed. Hair is another one that we can get stuck on, but the best way to go is to wear it how you would normally, with a bit more oomph. Skip a new hair cut or color change too close to the session date just in case.

For men, a clean shave or neatly trimmed facial hair the day of. Add skin and lip moisturizer into the routine leading up to and also for your photos.

Typically a photographer will guide you throughout the session on how to sit or stand and what do do with your hands, head, shoulders, etc. Unless you have extensive modeling experience, your photographer knows they need to help you with flattering poses for your body shape. If you have a “good side” or an angle you feel your best at then by all means work that first, but then allow yourself to be directed by the person who is looking at you in the current lighting setup and has posing experience.

Just Breathe
Try to relax. If you are feeling nervous, take a deep breath and relax those shoulders. If you feel like your smile is frozen, it probably is, take a moment to loosen up those facial muscles and start over. Still nervous? Start talking about what you do, your family, or pets to loosen up. Tension in body language and facial expressions can’t be edited out.

Wear what works
There are lots of opinions out there on what you should or shouldn’t wear. Ultimately you need to be happy with what you decide on. Fitted clothes are always more flattering, too tight or baggy can cause issues. If you still have trouble deciding, try modeling your choices and asking friends or co-workers for opinions. If you are unsure about color, black is timeless, neutrals are classic. That doesn’t mean boring, you can still show your style in a neutral.

Each team member of Seaport Salon & Spa wear black for their photos and I think it’s easy to see how each of them show their own style in their choices.

Seaport Salon & Spa team photos by Add to Heart Photography

For another option, bring something in your favorite color or a piece from your closet that you love. If you feel confident in your style or need to have the photos communicate that unique personality then go for it!

For Julie, 2015 Miss Washington National Teenager, she needed updated photos in a casual wear and evening wear attire. It’s no surprise that she went on to win Most Photogenic and placed in the top ten at ANTSO Nationals, congratulations Julie!

2015 Miss Washington National Teenager, Kitsap Pageant PhotographerEvening Wear Attire, Kitsap Pageant Headshot Photographer, Silverdale studioCasual Wear Attire, Kitsap Pageant Headshot Photographer, Silverdale studio

Now go forth and conquer that session. Find a photographer in your area that consistently produces headshot work that you like and remember it’s not as tough as you think it might be, you can do it!


  • Reply
    Julia Brown
    August 7, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Very informative and useful information, along with beautiful work!

  • Reply
    Jean Bernt
    August 9, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Great advice!

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