Business Portrait Planning & Tips

Business Portrait Planning & Tips

Great portraits don't just happen. They are the result of preparation on both sides of the camera. Your portraits will reflect the thought and effort you put into them.


  • You want your clothing to say the right things about you, but not be the focus of your pictures.  Proper clothing will allow your face to command the attention.
  • Dress in the fashion which you feel best represents both you and your company.  It’s up to you (or your marketing department) to decide if you want your business portraits to be formal or casual.  Some of it will depend on your field and the type of image you want to project.  You also have the option to do both casual and formal portraits in a single session.
  • For a formal business portrait, dress as you would if you were making a presentation to your most important client.
    • Men should wear a pressed solid dark suit and a darker tie.
    • Women should wear a solid suit and a light blouse. Wear something that looks good from the waist up.
  • Darker shades are more flattering and slimming.  However, taken to the extreme, black can look flat and featureless.  Medium to dark earth colors like brown, burgundy, blue, and dark gray are generally the best.
  • The amount of contrast between your shirt or blouse and suit is another choice you make.  Strong contrast as with a white shirt and dark suit looks formal, powerful, and is especially appropriate for industries such as finance and engineering.   Less contrast such as a pastel shirt with a medium dark jacket looks more friendly and inviting.
  • Some colors enhance or hurt your skin tone.  Red and yellow tend to make your skin look pale and should be avoided if you have a light complexion.
  • Even if you go business casual you still want to wear something that looks upscale and smart.  Solid clothing without patterns, stripes, plaids, or excessive logos generally works best.
  • Layered clothing looks great in business casual photos.  Take a page from the playbook of J. Crew, Abercrombie and the Gap.  Use this simple technique to build visual interest. Play up smooth skin by introducing texture.
  • Classic clothing styles will stand the test of time and keep your portraits looking fresh for years to come.
  • Do not wear short sleeves for a business portrait.

More Tips

  • Glasses create glare, distortion and darkness.  If you didn't pay extra to get top quality anti-glare lenses then please ask your optometrist to loan you a pair of frames without lenses.  Eyes that “pop” and grab your attention are the single most important factor in great portraits.  Yes, getting special glasses is a hassle, but it is worth it!
  • Makeup -- Powder! Powder! Powder!  I'm sure you've seen makeup artists at work on TV.  The makeup artist is constantly patting the actor’s face. Have you wondered why?  The reason is that powder, and lots of it, is necessary to create the beautiful matte finish which is part of a great portrait. Even if you never use powder it is important that you use it for your photo shoot.  When applying powder, use a lighter shade under the eyes to help eliminate any shadows or dark circles that the concealer didn't take care of. Use mineral powder makeup and bring it with you for touch-ups.  Evening makeup is generally best, applied moderately, to accent your eyes and lips.
  • Powder is important for men as well.  If you are the CEO of a large company you can bet that your PR people want us to use a makeup artist primarily so that you are prepped with powder.
  • Avoid fake tans and especially sunburns before your portrait session. These can make your skin look "muddy".
  • Please don't experiment with a new hairstyle for your portraits. There's nothing we can do to create a portrait you'll love if you hate your hair.
  • Men should shave a couple hours before their portrait to eliminate any redness.
  • It is fine to bring “inspiration” photos of others.  Look for awesome photos in google images, on competitor's web sites, or in magazines and bring them with you.  You may be amazed at how often we can match the style!
  • If you have troubles smiling naturally just think of how you would react if you ran into an old friend on a bright sunny day at the beach.

What about other professionals such as musicians?

  • The further we move away from the executive portrait the more you get to break the rules.  Plan ahead to include some wild clothing and lots of props.
  • Send us photos that you like so we can help you plan ahead to stage images with all the creativity, emotion, and “message” that you like.

Have fun! Let us capture you being you!

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