Damon Bowe Photography


When it comes to your headshot, keep in mind that a single photograph is your first introduction. Headshots are part of your first impressions, and how people will likely see you for the first time or only time in the case of remote telework. Make sure that your photos are the best representation of you. Taking these important steps into consideration will most certainly help in rendering the best outcome.


Maybe you have done a few photoshoots before and have ended up slightly disappointed with the way you look or the quality of the images. Many people believe that headshots are something that is done by the "IT Guy" at the office when you get an ID badge, or maybe your passport photo or driver's license. But more time and careful preparation, consideration and skill are required to create an effective headshot worthy of your personal brand and image here in the competitive Washington, DC business scape, and on the internet.

Great photographs can happen on a whim, but usually they require careful preparation and work with a professional who knows how to achieve the best look for you. When it comes to your headshots you want to ensure you are well prepared from what you wear to your appearance to how to pose.


For our headshots we will take photos and review them together on the spot, repeating as necessary. I will share my tips and tricks for posing and we will implement them together to achieve a look you enjoy. This approach allows you to see how you look and helps to identify which photos you like before you leave your session. By reviewing photos together you will not be surprised by the the outcome of the session and you are an active participant in producing the final photographs.

For your next headshot session be sure to consult this guide to better prepare so you look and feel confident for your headshots.


A few days before your session

It is a great idea to hydrate your skin with moisturizer and make sure you are drinking enough water. It's often a good idea to have your hair cut a few days prior to a photo session so that your hair has time to relax again. Lacking sleep will cause your skin to look puffy and irritated, so make sure you are getting a good night's rest in the days before your session.


You want to look your best during your shoot but it's essential that you are comfortable. Comfort isn't just how clothes feel on you, but how you feel in your clothing.

Select solid colors that complement your skin tone and eyes. If you want to wear a jacket or multiple layers, make sure the colors complement each other as well as your skin tone. One suggestion is to consider what your ideal character would wear to be cast in your role or job, and select attire that matches this character.

In the case of basic headshots, your bottoms or your shoes may not matter. But in personal branding photography is best to dress head-to-toe.

Older fabrics fade and do not look as nice. If possible wear new or freshly dry cleaned and pressed clothing.

Please consider that in some instances attire may be determined by office policy, so check to determine if you are concerned.


I ask my clients to wear the amount of makeup they would use on a regular work day.

Do not wear heavy makeup; a close headshot will show clumps of mascara or dark lipstick. Choose light to medium eyeliners, eye shadows, and lipsticks that are only a shade or two darker than your skin tones. This brings your features out in a subtle manner without making it look like you're wearing lots of makeup.

Avoid layering on heavy foundation, or wearing shiny eye shadows or lip gloss: too much shine is distracting on camera and looks wet. Blemishes can be fixed in post processing of your photos.

It is important to communicate with your photographer about what you do and do not want edited on your photographs.


Removing glare from glasses can be extremely difficult. It is helpful if you or your optometrist can take the lenses out. You may be able to borrow frames from your optometrist or buy some knockoff frames on ebay. Warby Parker also has a try on frame package you could use.


  • Wear a natural look makeup, the amount you might wear to work.
  • Newer fabrics look best, older fabrics fade and degrade.
  • Fitted clothing looks best.
  • Avoid sleeveless apparel.
  • Darker colors look best and make you look slim.
  • Avoid wrinkles, put your clothing on at the session.
  • Arrive on time with hair and makeup ready.
  • Males should wear tight fitting undershirts.
  • Manicures are important for everyone.
  • A neutral fingernail polish is best.
  • Shave closely immediately before your session.
  • Trim nose and/or ear hair, use tweezers or a professional if possible.
  • Ensure teeth are free of food debris, brush before you arrive.
  • Eat before you come to the session because being a model is draining.
  • Empty your pockets completely, including your phone.
  • Do not wear necklaces or dangly earrings because they are distracting.


If you are doing a personal branding shoot that captures your entire body, you have to be prepared from head to toe.

Speaking of toes, white shoes are distracting and it is often best to stick with brown. Athletic shoes are almost never a good choice. Brown is probably the safest bet.

Worn shoes look bad and should be avoided, but that does not mean you will need new shoes. If you are not aware of shoe care, check out Kirby Allison for tips and tricks to make sure your shoes are well polished. Kirby has posted a number of videos about shoe upkeep and restoration. There are many online services, including Kirby Allison's Presidential Shine or a local vendor Cobbler and Co., that will polish and restore your shoes, as well as a few local shops. Note that sending your shoes out for a shine can take up to a month, local shops are faster but if they need to send shoes out for repair it can take a few weeks.

If you are shooting in the studio, ensure that your shoe soles are wiped down. I recommend not wearing your shoes to a session. Bring them in a bag so that you can keep them looking perfect and scuff free with clean, photogenic soles. The soles of your shoes will be visible in a few photographs no matter where we are working, so making sure every detail is taken care of, from soles to laces, is important.

Based in the Capitol Riverfront, Washington, DC
(202) 567-7004 · inquiry@damonbowephoto.com

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