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No Plaid, No Jewelry

Why should you avoid jewelry and distracting wardrobe in a headshot?
Most professional headshot photographers will advise you against clothing with patterns, detailed collars, attention grabbing jewelry. These things do not add to the image but detract from it. By skipping those accessories, you appear clean, neat, direct, honest. It’s just you, as you are. I agree with photographer Judy Babinski, from Dallas, who says “the focus in on your face and expression.”
Without distracting items, your expression is where we direct our gaze to. Your eyes, your intention. We are not looking at your necklace and saying, “what a nice piece”, or “I don’t really like this necklace”, or anything like that. We’re looking at you, not what you’re wearing. Does it make a good expression look better, and a poor expression look worse? Yes. Because that’s what we’re looking at, and there’s no place to hide. But if you’re wearing accessories to distract from a not-so-good expression, you’re doing it wrong (a great photographer will help you get your best!).
A great headshot results from shooting with attention to details, so that the viewer will not have their attention gravitate towards unimportant details. A suit that fits perfectly, neutral tones, no wrinkles or unusual patterns to look at, a lean wardrobe makes you look professional, efficient, well taken care of.
It’s also a good idea to avoid bright colors. In a recent past, actors’ headshots for commercials submissions were encouraged to wear tops like solid bright orange, or to shoot against a solid color background such as pink or green. This would supposedly make their headshots pop, especially in a submission where they are sided by several other headshots on a computer screen. But it also makes for a very artificial look, like tangerine juice out of a can. For actors, it looks dated. Commercials now look for a very authentic, “real” element, that people can identify and connect to in a subtle way, less “on your face”.
Clean, elegant, timeless. Those are great attributes for a headshot. Every distracting element that is added, every pendant and frilly collar detail subtracts from those attributes. On the extreme, picture a lady with heavy makeup, hair in a high updo, big dangling earrings, orange shirt with a flower print. As you remove each of those elements, the image keeps getting better. A small earring looks like a left over from that image. Just do away with it! Less is definitely more.

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