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How to achieve the absolute best from investing in a professional photoshoot 

By Emeka Ikechi, Director, Vanity Studios

In business it is important to have top quality images.  So, if it is time for a professional photoshoot what do you need to ensure that you get high quality results from the investment of your time and money?

I believe you should be considering the following eight points.

Before attending the photoshoot think about what you want from it

You are probably paying a lot of money for your photoshoot, so make sure you know what you want the resulting shots to look like. Are you looking for a slick, professional headshot for your business, for example? If so, think about where you will be using it; on your company website, your LinkedIn profile, printed marketing materials. Then decide what you want these pictures to say about you. If you are a Financial Director, you may want to look serious and responsible but if you are working on creative projects, you’ll probably prefer your look to be more arty. If you run a sports business or gym, you will be aiming for a picture showing you looking fit and healthy. 

These days, at the studio, we see a lot of potential influencers and bloggers. The selfie has its place in these occupations, but a well-thought-out professional picture can definitely give them an edge. We also see actors and models who are looking for portfolio shots and if that’s you, you should think about the kind of work you are looking for – do you want to look sweet and charming or edgy and dangerous, for example?

And you can really mix and match. Get your headshot done for work, followed by a shot of you emulating an album cover for fun, indulge yourself in a picture where you’re dressed to the nines and look totally gorgeous, followed by an underwear shot. The decision is yours. 

If you have a particular look or looks in mind, bring a photo from a magazine to illustrate it so the studio can get it right.

What we don’t recommend is practising! The point of going to a professional studio is that they have the experience to help you get the look you want and if you are too stiff with a practised pose, you are unlikely to get the best from the process.

What to wear 

Now you have in mind the kind of shots you want, pick a selection of clothes that will help you achieve that look. We recommend bringing several changes of clothes and ones you can mix and match to create different looks. Four “looks” is a good number to work towards. 

If you are simply there for work / business shots, we still recommend you change tops to give variety and allow for more formal or casual looks depending on where the shot is being used. If you are having a mixture of shots, a crisp white shirt, for example, can go under a suit jacket but could also be worn casually with a pair of jeans and your favourite boots or shoes. 

On a very practical level, with head shots particularly, try not to wear anything that is too similar to your skin tone, as you are in danger of blending into your outfit and, conversely, don’t wear anything too patterned as it’s distracting.

Do make sure you are comfortable in what you will be wearing. You are far more likely to enjoy the experience – and therefore get better pictures – if you are comfortable and confident in the clothes you have chosen.

And underwear is important! Bring spares that you can change into if needed. That crisp white shirt won’t look right for a business shot if you arrived in a black bra and didn’t think to bring a spare! Similarly, if you are planning to wear low-slung jeans, bring underwear that won’t be poking out of the top! You get the picture (no pun intended).

Do you need accessories?

Much like the clothes, ensure you have plenty of accessories to match your outfits and help towards the shot you want to achieve. Some understated jewellery for the business shot maybe, but big, bold earrings for your fun shots. And it’s not just for the ladies, chaps, bring your most outrageous retro trainers if you want to or a statement hat that you might not wear very often otherwise. Ladies, if you love your killer heels – or your crazy Doc Martens – don’t leave them at home. You may decide not to use them on the day but do have them with you!

Props may have a place

These are slightly less useful for the corporate-style shots that for say, family shots. However, if you have a hero product that might work in a shot or two, it’s worth considering. Of course, if your product is something you wear or use that makes it easier to fit into your pictures but do remember to have some shots that are just you, with no promotion. There will be occasions when you want to use a headshot where you don’t look too salesy.

Ideally find a studio that will help with hair and makeup

So, now you have thought about what you want and got your outfits together, what should you do about hair and makeup? Firstly, make sure you check with the studio whether or not hair and makeup is part of the package. I would highly recommend that you choose a studio that includes this, but a lot of family and corporate photographers don’t, so make sure you check. And if they don’t include hair and makeup, ask them for guidance as to how you should prepare before you arrive.

If you come to a studio where these are part of the package, we advise arriving with clean hair that has no styling products in and no makeup. That way the stylists can start with a blank canvas and create the look you want. We do suggest you have makeup applied for the shoot, as the lighting is pretty strong, so you could look washed out without any. However, you can choose to look very natural or have heavy makeup or anything in between. If you’re not 100% sure what you want, the artists can advise you and work with you to get you looking just perfect!

Men should also arrive with clean, non-styled hair and, for the shoot, we do suggest at least having some powder applied because of the lighting and to mask blemishes. Some men will want more than others, again depending on who you are and what you want to achieve, but it is completely optional and the makeup artists will work with you to ensure you get the look you really want.


Glasses are far less of an issue than people tend to assume so, if you are a wearer of glasses, do bring them along. Glare is seldom an issue – remember these are professional photographers who know how to get the angle and lighting right.

For some people, glasses are very much part of their identity and others may need them but prefer how they look without, so it’s very much a personal choice. What we tend to do is take poses both with and without glasses and when the shoot is over you can choose which pictures you prefer.

Keep focused when you review the images

The photographer will take a lot – and I mean a lot – of pictures. So, at the end of the shoot, there will be an enormous number of images to choose from. Generally, studios will have a “viewer”; someone specifically assigned to go through the shots with you and help you choose the right ones. Remember what it is was you wanted in the first place and be sure you have those shots ordered – it’s crucial you leave with what you wanted in the first place. You may also find there are other shots that you really love and these are a real bonus from your experience.

Relax and enjoy

I can’t stress this enough, your photoshoot should be fun! We offer Prosecco on arrival and the whole process is very comfortable. Good studios will have great makeup artists and hair stylists so you can relax while they get to work. The photographers are highly experienced and give a lot of direction; they will advise you on where to stand, how to sit, which angle to put your head at, where to look, etc. There’s lots of chat and direction and we find that even those who are not used to taking instruction enjoy being guided by the professionals.

Lastly, trust is key. You need to trust your makeup artists and the photographer. As I’ve said, turn up knowing what you want and, if you put your trust in the team, you will leave with what you anticipated and, probably, more!

So, with all this in mind, I do hope you book that shoot or look forward to the one in your diary more than you might have been doing until now. Your business website will look better as will your social media and printed marketing materials!


Emeka Ikechi is Director of Vanity Studios, a contemporary studio for photoshoots in the centre of Shoreditch in London. Since 2009 Vanity Studios has been providing clients with high quality professional photos and an excellent photoshoot experience. The team of photographers and make-up artists ensure each client receives bespoke photography that meets their requirements. 

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