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Preparing For Your Headshot Session

An in-depth guide to preparing for your headshot session & looking your best!

Headshot Photographer In Knoxville


Want to know the best advice on preparing for your headshot session? As Professional headshot photographers, we created this comprehensive article to help you be as prepared as possible when it comes to getting your headshot photography done.

The primary sections of this guide included:

Post Booking


  • After you book and reserve your headshot with your headshot photographer, we recommend taking a few minutes to get everything organized on your calendar, either digitally or printed. The first step is to mark down your headshot session date and work in reverse from that date. Ideally, you scheduled your headshot session with some buffer room in the few weeks before, below you can find out why!

Accountant Headshot

2-3 Weeks Before

Session Planning

  • 2-3 weeks before your session we advise connecting with your headshot photographer if you haven't already, to discuss the overall session goals, which should include the overall look, theme, backdrop colors, attire, and location that you desire.

Pre-Schedule Hair Appointment

  • Your headshot session will ideally be photographed by a professional headshot photographer, so why not also get your hair professionally done? We advise pre-scheduling your haircut to occur just a few days before your headshot session, even better is the morning of, just make sure you have enough time. Professional hair & makeup artists can be booked to work on location, we know this as wedding photographers! We advise against any new or drastic changes to your hairstyle and recommend that you just "enhance" what is natural to you.

Pre-Schedule a Makeup Appointment (Or DIY)

  • Pre-schedule your makeup to occur directly before your headshot session. Most makeup artists are willing to travel to the session location if needed. If doing your own makeup, make sure to allow time for this. We recommend using a primer and setting spray to reduce shine and glare. Go for a natural look with makeup and avoid overdoing it.

Pre Schedule Additional Beauty Appointments

  • If you require additional beauty appointments such as tanning, eyebrow threading, waxing, etc allow time in your schedule for these to occur. Please keep in mind that tanning usually lasts 7-10 days, with spray tans lasting 24 hours or less. In regards to tanning, we advise toning it down a few levels as it may look different on camera.

Wardrobe Shopping

  • Depending on the theme and look of your headshot session, you may need to go wardrobe shopping. We recommend solid colors that reflect your personality and profession. Your wardrobe should fit and accent your body structure, not being too loose or too tight, but just right! Patterned wardrobe should be avoided as well as any wardrobe with logos. If your headshot session allows, bring along several of your favorite outfits, this will provide you with a variety of looks in your final images.

Wardrobe Detailing

  • If needed, use this 2-3 week pre-headshot session buffer to have your clothes dry-cleaned and pressed.

Knoxville Personal Branding Photo

3 Days Before

Wardrobe Preparation

  • Don't wait until the last second to lay out your wardrobe, we recommend 3 days before your headshot session, to start getting your clothing ready. This includes ironing if needed and placing them inside a garment bag. Make sure to also set aside your headshot session footwear. Most headshot images will be cropped well above your waist, but you never know if you might want a full body image, so it's best to be prepared.

Prep A "Day of Headshot" Bag

  • Preparing a "day of headshot" bag is not required, but nice to have. This is a simple small bag that contains items such as a change of shoes, a change of clothes, an extra hair brush, a lint roller, chapstick lip gloss, make-up, moisturizer, hair spray, and more.

Interior Designers Headshot

1 Day Before


  • To ensure you feel refreshed and have hydrated skin, we recommend consuming 10-16 cups of water a day before your headshot session. For detailed water consumption, it is advised for women to consume 11.5 cups per day and for men to consume 15.5 cups per day.

Check For Local Events

  • By checking for local events that may be taking place along your route of travel, you can pivot and avoid potential traffic obstructions on your way to your headshot session.

Travel Preparation

To ensure your travel to and from your headshot session is stress-free, we advise preparing to travel a day before your headshot session.

  • Gas Vehicles: Top off your fuel tank at the gas station so you won't have to worry about running late the morning of your session.
  • Electric Vehicles: Ensure your vehicle is fully charged by plugging in the night before. If at-home charging is unavailable, we advise fully charging your vehicle at a nearby charging station the day prior first thing in the morning.
  • Uber, Lift & Ride Sharing: If your select application allows you to reserve a ride in advance, this is a great opportunity to do so.
  • Bicycle: Ensure your bicycle is in functioning condition by checking the tire pressure, indexing through all gears, and checking both front and rear brakes.
  • Walking: If you live close by to where your headshot session will be taking place, make sure to check the weather and ensure that your shoes are in working order.

Avoid Draining Activities

  • Try to avoid physically & emotionally draining activities the afternoon and evening before your headshot session if at all possible.

Reduce Carbohydrate Intake

  • We advise reducing your carbohydrate intake the day before your headshot session to prevent bloating and food cramps.

Reduce Alcohol Intake

  • Avoid alcohol intake the day before your headshot session as it will leave you dehydrated. Reducing or completely avoiding alcohol the day before your headshot will also help you avoid any of the inconveniences typically associated with alcohol consumption.

Eat Dinner Early

  • Aim to eat dinner around 3 hours before your bedtime. This will allow your body to fully rest while sleeping instead of being busy processing a heavy dinner.

Avoid New Restaurants & Food

  • Avoid eating at new restaurants or consuming food that is new to you the night before your headshot session. This will help you avoid stomach and digestion issues, which can keep you up at night.

Reduce TV/Electronic Time

  • The night before your session, reduce your TV/Electronic time in the evening. If possible, this means avoiding any type of screen at least for an hour or more before your bedtime. We recommend setting your alarm early in the evening and placing your phone away from your bed with all notifications silenced, except your alarm of course.
  • Reading a fictional book will help you relax and wind down. Avoid non-fiction books or those that make you think too critically. The goal here is to relax your brain to get ready for bed.

Take A Hot Shower

  • Take a hot shower before bed, this helps you to relax.

Attend To Hygiene Needs

If shaving is needed, now is the time to do it. Below you can find some hygiene advice.

  • Skincare: Avoid using new moisturizers or skincare products that you do not have experience with. Stick to your normal routine if you have one. If you don't have a skincare routine, start thinking about one after your headshot session. The night before your headshot session, isn't that time to start a skincare routine. If you don't have any skincare products, we recommend applying a natural lotion with minimal ingredients. Avoiding new skincare products will eliminate the chances of skin reactions or outbreaks that may occur.
  • Clean Shave (Men): Shave the night before your headshot session directly after you shower. First, exfoliate and apply a hot towel to the neck and face area. This will help your pores to open up. Shave with the direction of facial hair not against the grain. Shaving against the grain will cause skin irritation that will certainly show in your headshot images. Rinse with cold water and apply post-shave lotion and moisturizer.
  • Groomed Shave (Men): If you are keeping a bearded look and simply trimming up, we recommend shaving before you shower. Use the proper shaving clipper guard that ensures facial hair is trimmed neatly and not scraggly. Shave with the direction of hair growth and avoid any new shaving patterns or designs.

Apply Moisturizer

  • Apply a face and skin moisturizer before settling into bed. This will ensure your skin looks and feels hydrated during your headshot session.

Set A Soft Alarm Clock

  • Make sure to set your alarm clock before you go to bed. We recommend a "soft" alarm clock that slowly raises in sound. Some popular alarm clock sounds on an iPhone are, slow rise, chimes, silk, and ripple. Set your alarm to sound at a minimum of 2 hours before anything important or your schedule. This will give you some "personal time" to ensure a great morning.

Go To Bed Early

  • We advise aiming for 8-10 hours of sleep the night before your headshot session. This will ensure that you are fully rested. If you are a night owl, we advise yielding this one time and taking a sleep gummy or melatonin supplement. if needed. With sleep supplements, take a slightly smaller portion than recommended so you not only sleep deeply but wake up alert and not drowsy.

Senior Managing Director Headshot

Day Of


  • On the morning of your headshot session, we recommend consuming 8-24oz immediately upon waking. This has numerous benefits including rehydration of your body, flushing toxins, and helping you feel more alert. Cold water will boost your immune system and shock your body to wake up, however, we personally enjoy consuming room-temperature water that has been prepared the night before.

Light Exercise

  • We recommend performing some light exercise on the morning of your headshot session. Depending on your fitness level and health factors, this can be as simple as a short 30-minute walk, a 3-mile run, a quick bicycle ride on an indoor trainer, or an easy weight-lifting session. Only you know your body the best and what may exhaust one person may energize another!
  • Keep in mind, you aren't trying to set any personal records before you step in front of the camera, so don't go run a half marathon and expect to show up being 100%. The goal of this is to simply warm your body up, maybe break a sweat and get a good pump. You should feel energized and a rush of energy if you are doing this correctly.


  • Now that you hopefully followed the last tip and worked up a sweat, we advise taking a shower. Some people prefer hot showers after working out and some people prefer cold showers, this is up to you. Don't forget to apply the proper moisturizer and lotions.

Healthy Breakfast

  • To fuel properly for the big day ahead of you, eat a healthy breakfast! What is considered "healthy" varies from individual to individual, but what we have found is that plenty of protein, healthy fats, and minimal carbohydrates help us feel well-refreshed and attentive in the morning. Make sure to consume some water with your meal and avoid sugary drinks.

Avoid Social Media & News

  • Avoid consuming social media and negative news the morning of your headshot session. This will ensure that you have a positive mental attitude and can spread happiness to the world.

Personal Time

  • Take some personal time to read something interesting (not social media) or practice a new skill. This is also a great time to spend a few minutes performing relaxing breathing or meditation techniques to keep you calm.

Practice Poses

  • If your headshot photographer provided you with a head host guide that showcases some poses and tips, now is a great time to practice a few in front of a mirror. Try angling your body one way and then the other, find what angles you like the best. What about your smile? Do you prefer a full smile, partial smile, or closed-mouth smile?

Depart Early

  • Leave early for the day's appointments, we recommend arriving at the first appointment of the day a minimum of 15 minutes early. This way you won't feel rushed!

Hair & Makeup

  • If you pre-schedule your hair & makeup, this is when those appointments will take place.

Travel To Headshot Location

  • Arrive at the location of your headshot well in advance, we recommend 15-20 minutes. This will give you time to bring your wardrobe in, greet your headshot photographer, and get settled in.

Reporter Headshot

Headshot Session


  • Stress will show through the camera lens, so make sure to relax and breathe! You have done a great job preparing for an amazing headshot session and you are finally here. Your photographer will guide you through the headshot session and if you have any questions don't be afraid to ask.

Be You

  • Your headshot session is about you! So be authentic and you will have authentic headshots. If a particular pose or adjustment doesn't feel right to you, don't be afraid to speak up and make an adjustment.


  • Listen to the prompts and directions your headshot photographer gives you, they are ideally professional and have a good reason for their instruction. Feel free to ask questions if you are curious!


  • Some headshot photographers may offer the ability to view your images live as they are being taken. This is the perfect opportunity to make minute adjustments in real-time. Headshot photographers who do not offer this capability may show you the back of their camera during your headshot session. Although this provides a very small viewing size, it will be adequate for you to make adjustments.
  • During your session, if you view an image that features an expression or angle you are not quite happy with, bring it up immediately, and don't feel like you will hurt their feelings! Just say something along the lines of "Hey! With that list image can we adjust X?"


  • If you feel tired, don't be ashamed to ask for a quick break to rest or collect yourself if needed. If this is your first time in front of a camera, it can be nerve-racking and breaks should be expected. Once you warm up a bit it will become easier.

Knoxville Headshot Photography

Post Session


  • After your headhost session, your photographer may or may not review your images with you on the spot. If not, they will usually provide you with a link from which you can view your images.

Timeline, Deliverables & Expectations

  • If your headshot photographer has not provided a timeline of what to expect post-session and the deliverables, make sure to ask so you can know what to expect and when to expect it!

Investor Headshot

Final Words

If you choose to follow the steps outlined in this guide, you will be well-prepared for your headshot session. Yes, there is some work on your end to be done, but the results and final headshot images will be totally worth it! Hopefully, throughout your time spent reading this informative headshot guide, you have gathered some additional tips that you find value in outside of just being prepared for your headshot.

If you have any additional ideas to include within this guide or would like your headshot photographed by us (yes, we want to photograph you!) just contact us and let us know all about your headshot needs.