Glasses and the Corporate Headshot

Photographers, originally uploaded to Flickr by w warby.Reader J wonders whether she should remove her glasses for her corporate headshot…

I was looking over an old post about corporate photographs, and I have a question about whether or not to wear glasses in my upcoming firm photo. I’ll be a new associate at a law firm at the beginning of August. I am very young looking, and part of my professional attire (and personal style) is wearing glasses. I feel more comfortable in glasses and wear them every day anyway. I was wondering if you or your readers have advice on wearing glasses in professional pictures. I’ve always taken them for professional photos in the past to avoid a distracting glare. What do you think?

Great question. This is the kind of thing that you may want to ask the photographer about — can he Photoshop out a glare? What does he recommend? In general, though, I think that if your everyday look includes glasses, then you ought to include glasses in your firm photo. (In fact, your glasses may already have an anti-reflective coating on them — if you can check your receipt or call the store where you bought them, that might help you remember.) I would also caution against the dark circles undereye circles that glasses can cause sometimes — take a few test shots at home to see if they do create them, and then test to see whether concealer helps hide them.  (Pictured: Photographers, originally uploaded to Flickr by w warby.)

Some other tips for you for your corporate headshot:
– If you interviewed for the job in a suit, or you wear a suit to big meetings, then guess what: wear a suit for the picture.
– Choose your shirt or blouse well — if it’s a collared shirt, make sure the collar is nice and crisp, and decide before you go in whether you want the collar tucked in or out. I would recommend avoiding white, and going with a flattering but classic color on you — light blue, light pink, or perhaps even a red.
– Wherever possible, wear your best, most conservative jewelry — I would pull out the good pearls for this kind of event. Similarly, your earrings should be as conservative as possible — nothing dangly. If you have larger posts (large pearl buttons, for example) they might be perfect for this kind of event.
– Consider your hair — it’s probably best if it isn’t pulled back all the way, but half-up, half-down looks can be nice, as can a simple, clean part. If your hair looks better with a blowout, consider getting one for the headshot.
– You may want to bring extra makeup with you to the shoot itself, and ask the photographer — sometimes an extra layer or two of lipstick or blush is needed.
– Finally: remember the purpose of the shot. Things you’re aiming to look: Friendly. Detail-oriented. Intelligent. Things you’re not aiming to look: Fun. Flirty. Spontaneous. Sexy.

Readers, what are your best tips for taking a good corporate headshot? Any disaster stories of your own to relate?


  1. Overscheduled :

    Sorry to threadjack right away but:

    Lets say your SO bought expensive tickets to a sporting event several months in advance and you are both very excited about it. Then, a friend announces her engagement party for the same date. There is no way to attend both. What do you do? :(

    • Go to the sporting event. Brides/grooms get ONE day. Not a series of weekend days/evenings.

    • ditto

    • Go to sporting event. “So sorry, dear friend, we have long standing plans that day. Let’s get drinks sometime next week though!”

    • agreed that you go the sporting event as you committed to that first. the fact that brides/grooms should only get one day of self-adulation is also true, but secondary in my opinion to the “first committed” principle.

      that having been said. i had to turn down free box seats to a U2 concert several years ago b/c i had already committed to a friend’s engagement party. i barely even see the friend now, and i’ve still never seen U2 in concert. so ….

    • Send your regrets and best wishes. Getting engaged does not give your friends control over your calendar.

    • It depends on who the friend is. If it is a really close friend and you are genuinely excited to celebrate her engagement with her, and you and she would both feel sad if you weren’t there to celebrate, then go to the engagement party (maybe let your SO go to the sporting event without you). But if you won’t feel sad about missing the celebration of your friend’s engagement, then send your regrets and go to the sporting event.

      Everyone is assuming that the bride is selfish for having an engagement party – but a lot of us are genuinely happy for our engaged friends and want to celebrate with them, you know?

      • “Everyone is assuming that the bride is selfish for having an engagement party – but a lot of us are genuinely happy for our engaged friends and want to celebrate with them, you know?”
        This. I’m currently arguing with my mother about whether or not she will be throwing my fiance and I an engagement party. I’m in the “one day is enough” camp, and she’s from the (seemingly inexplicable) “but you HAVE to have one” camp. I think I’m succeeding in talking her down, but we’ll see.

        • Just have one! Make it informal, ask for no gifts, and have lots of booze. It’s basically just an excuse to have a party.

      • Its not a matter of being happy – its a matter of so many brides feeling like their stuff comes first for the entire engagement. If she wasn’t that “type”, the poster probably wouldn’t be asking. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having engagement parties and showers, but you have to be clear to your friends that friendship is not dependent on them cancelling their own lives for a year to attend your events. And I’d also suggest telling friends “no gifts” :)

  2. One alternative is to wear glasses without lenses (i.e., just the frames). My optician was happy to lend me a set for the day and helped me find some almost indistinguishable from my usual pair. You could also have the lenses taken out and then replaced, but I couldn’t bear to be without my glasses for more than five minutes!

    My photographer recommended this and the photos turned out great.

  3. I believe that in bullet point number 3, the second ‘where’ should actually be ‘wear’.

    • Who cares? Does it make you feel better to point out the mistakes of others? The point of this blog is to inpsire and share. If you post a comment and later want to correct an error you made, more power to you. If you read a comment and see an error… just leave it alone. Get a life.

      • Overreact much? Maybe she just thought Kat would like to know of the error. As a writer myself, I know that I often overlook my own mistakes (it’s hard to proof your own work, as you see what you intended to write, not always what you actually wrote), and am always happy when a second eye catches one for me.

  4. Diana Barry :

    I wore glasses for my photo. The photographer can photoshop glare, but a better way is to try to push up the ear pieces of the glasses up above your ears, so that the glasses are toward your face at the bottom of the frame, and farther away at the top of the glasses/bridge of your nose. This works really well to get rid of glare, but it helps to have your hair hide the pushed-up earpieces.

  5. This was a timely post for me, I have a head shot scheduled for the end of this week. What does everyone here think of a gray suit with a light blue shirt? I’m worried that there won’t be enough contrast (this picture will be printed in both color and black & white for various purposes).

    If no on the blue shirt, are there any recommendations for shirt color. I really want to wear this particular suit, as my next best option is a black suit which I think might be a little harsh for the picture.

    • Unfortunately, what works best for color does not work best for B&W, but I think your gray suit with a light blue shirt is a good compromise.

      I’m by no means a professional photographer, but I’ve been told by several that muted colors, pastels, etc. are ideal for B&W portraits. It’s also less severe than a black suit (which would photograph better in color than in B&W).

    • I work in association publishing and frequently deal with submitted photos. If the suit is charcoal gray, you should be completely fine in B&W. If it is a light gray suit, then a light blue may end up reading the same and washing you out slightly. In that instance, I would recommend going with a shirt in a dark blue or jewel tone instead (to give some contrast). I’m sure you’ll look great regardless.

      It’s great you’ll have a headshot handy from now on. You never know when you’ll have the need to use it. From this end, I can’t tell you how sad it is when folks who are invited to speak or write won’t spend the 20 min. it would take at a Sears or JcPenney or wherever to get one done. A lot of folks send us photos from vacations and simply expect us to crop. (The worst was one lady wearing a strapless dress. Hello–you’re going to look like you weren’t wearing any clothes!) It doesn’t have to be very expensive either. Many places have coupons online. I think I was able to do mine for a speaking event for $50 or so? Worth every penny as I’ve since used it for LinkedIn, a submission for board membership, and an audiowebcast speaking event. I don’t even consider myself someone who is very active professionally.

    • Thanks to both replies. The suit is more of a medium to light gray and I think it probably will blend too much with the suit in B&W. I’ve been trolling the internet looking for pictures and am now considering my shell options.

  6. If you have really poor vision, like I did, you may want to go sans glasses. The problem is that when you have one of those side/head tilt/profile-ish photos, the lenses can distort your face on the side away from the camera (think looking at a straw through a glass of water). I like the no-lenses suggestion above. Also, if you have ever thought about going to contacts or having eye surgery, I would say no glasses.

  7. Threadjack: Any one else have trouble swallowing large pills? I have found a chewable multi-vitamin and a chewable calcium supplement. I would also like to take an omega acid supplement because I hear such good things about them, but it seems like every pill on the market is a huge 1,000 mg horse pill. I would have no problem taking multiple smaller pills, but I just can’t bring myself to swallow such a huge pill daily. Any suggestions?

    • Pill cutter.

      • Thanks, but I don’t think a pill cutter will work because these are omega acid pills are oil-filled gel capsules, so cutting them would be very messy, and I would miss out on the benefits.

    • Ask your pharmacist. She or he will have suggestions for sure.

    • When we were young and had to take a pill, my mom would put it in a spoonful of applesauce and have us swollow the appplesauce. I’m not sure why, but it worked, maybe because we couldn’t feel the pill. These were not huge pills though, so I don’t know if it will work. But might be worth a try!

    • Put the pill into yogurt or applesauce.

      How I do this with big pills or when I’ve had to take several at once is to get a serving of yogurt or applesauce (yogurt works better I think), eat a few bites then take a spoonful and stick the pill(s) into the yogurt whole stick it in my mouth and swallow normally. Then finish up the serving.

      My theory is that this works because the yogurt is thicker than water or juice but doesn’t require chewing and that masks the presence of the pill.

      Good luck.

      • I do yogurt too and it works also for pills that taste bitter even if they are small

    • Anonymous :

      Why not just take liquid omegas instead?

    • Mpls Lawyer and Mom :

      I have trouble taking pills – always feels like they are most, but not all the way, down my throat, even with a big glass of water. I get a couple of tortilla chips or a calcium supplement gummy bear ready to eat right after swallowing to push it the rest of the way to my stomach. Might be partly psychological, but maybe it will work for you, too!

      • I have the same problem and found an omega supplement that’s the consistency of a gummy bear. In fact, I now take all of my vitamins and supplements in gummy-form. The brand I use is called “slice of life.”

  8. I think that if you normally wear glasses, you should wear glasses in your professional photo. The point of posting a photo on your website (or wherever) is so people can recognize you — either they’ll see your picture in advance and know who they are looking for, or they’ll meet you and can later confirm your name or contact information by looking online. If your photo doesn’t look anything like how you look in real life, it’s not serving its purpose.

  9. Your photographer will also probably be able to show you samples in the middle of your shoot so you can adjust if you want.

  10. My only advise is to find out what the background is going to be. I see a lot of “official photos” — that is, when a gov’t official gets a photo taken in front of a flag — and for them, I highly recommend wearing only black or navy blue for the suit, and white or pale blue for the blouse/shell. The ones of men with yellow or green ties, or women with pink blouses look strange, so really consider what’s going to be behind you when you choose what to wear.

  11. I concur on the advice to tip your glasses up, with the earpieces above your ears so they don’t reflect straight at the camera. The photographer should also be able to position her lights to avoid glare from the glasses, though this might take a few test shots. If you have extra pairs of glasses or an old pair that you rarely use you could take the lenses out.

  12. I had a professional headshot recently and the photographer highly recommended no earrings – he said that often only one will show due to the head angle and it looks awkward. I took some with and without and I think he was right. Would have never thought of that.

  13. LinLondon :

    I took mine off for my headshot. I think I photograph better without them, generally, and also I have lopsided ears, which you can only noticed because my glasses tilt to one side!

  14. On a somewhat related note, be wary of the photographer trying to “pose” you. The key is to look natural. Once you are tilting your head 15 different ways, crossing your arms, un-crossing your arms — well, it just looks forced. I noticed that our firm photographer had everyone (including myself, ehem) cross their arms. Like we’re all supposed to be these tough arm-crossing lawyers. It just looks silly.