Business Portraits, tips from photojournalist

Sally Ullman

Never underestimate the power of your professional head shot portrait you have taken to represent you in your business. While you are your best first impression, your photo remains the image of reference for your clients. Business portraits used on your business cards  keep your image in the minds of those you meet much longer than cards without images.  If you don’t want to use your personal photo then, perhaps a photo of your business or product  might be more suitable. But images sell and images are remembered.

Below are some tips for business portraits. Before I schedule a session, I interview my clients  as thoroughly as they will allow, so that I can bring my editorial perspective ideas to the session. I like to use my background as  a photojournalist when consulting with clients to produce new images for them because my photojournalist background gives me the ability to ask questions from multiple perspectives.  In that way, I can create a business portrait that is distinctively different for my clients.

General Tips

  • Tell me your expectations and intentions. Let me know what kind of look you want.
  • Tell me how and where the photo will be used so I can be sure it’s appropriate.
  • Drink lots of water and be well rested before the shoot -Pick the ideal time of day that you are at your best.
  • Arrive on time. Please do not arrive more than 10 minutes early (we may have other clients scheduled before you)
  • Please call if you are running late or arrive early

What to Wear – Everyone

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you look great but this will be discussed prior to your appointment in detail.
  • Make sure your jacket and shirt fit you well. A poor fitting jacket or shirt will be obvious in the photos
  • and you will pay extra for asking  for extraordinary retouch requests.
  • Don’t overdress
  • Turtlenecks are almost always a bad idea since they make you look as if you do not have a neck.
  • I have seen amazing exceptions to the turtleneck statement so if you love them, wear it.
  • Clothes should be neatly pressed and should look new or like new
  • Avoid busy patterns and large lines/stripes
  • Blue/green/turquoise shirts/blouses or accents can help emphasize blue/green/hazel eyes

What to Wear – Men

  • The standard business look is a suit jacket, dress shirt and tie
  • A casual business look is often a jacket and open dress shirt, shirt and tie (no jacket), or dress shirt on it’s own
  • Polo shirts are a good look for some businesses. Be sure the shirt is in good condition and fits well
  • For a no-jacket casual look, bring colored shirts – ideally darker than your skin tone
  • A white dress shirt by itself is a bad idea – unless you plan to wear it underneath something (jacket or sweater)
  • Bring a few different jackets, shirt colors and ties so we have choices for the photo

What to Wear – Women

  • Avoid big prints and busy patterns
  • Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Bring a variety different shirts/blouses to see what works best
  • Do not wear sleeveless or short sleeves unless you love your arms. i can only eliminate so much in retouch.
  • For a no-jacket casual look, bring various colored blouses – ideally darker than your skin tone
  • Be stylish and fashionable, but remember the picture is about your face and not your clothes
  • unless clothing and jewelry are your business

Remember: Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Select something that makes you look and feel good and what is really representative of your personal style and business for any business portrait.


  • Keep jewelry extremely simple – small is better
  • Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated
  • The picture is about your face, not your jewelry unless jewelry is your business

What to Bring

  • Your previous headshots (so we can improve)
  • Sample headshots to help communicate the look you want-do your homework and look at magazines in your field of work
  • Favorite Music -just a suggestion, I can play anything for you in the session .
  • Various changes of clothing (see above)
  • A good attitude
  • Lip balm
  • Hair brush/comb
  • Makeup and hair products you prefer (especially if you have allergies)

Hair and Makeup Tips

  • Make-up should be clean and natural
  • Wear a heavy layer of translucent powder – your face will appear flawless in photos. Shine disappears, pores seem smaller, skin looks even, and blush is smoother
  • Line lips before applying matte lipstick, then reline. Don’t overdo it. Dip a cotton bud in powder and run along lip line to prevent color from bleeding
  • Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine
  • Avoid frosts or overly-bright colors
  • Don’t get a new hair cut just before the shoot (you may want to let it grow-in a bit or get used to styling a new cut)
  • Do not try/use any new product on your hair, face or body the day before or few days before your shoot. In case you have a bad reaction to the product
  • I can hire a professional makeup artist for little or no cost  to be along on the session.
  • Please arrive with hair styled and makeup already applied except for final touches (if not using makeup artist)



mini check
941-301-8926   CONTACT  SALLY  ULLMAN   941-301-8926