preparing for your session…

professional headshots

Working Together to Look Your Best

Our goal is to work together to create some fantastic imagery. On my end, I’m using professional lighting (double diffused softboxes that create creamy lighting with perfect fall-off that will be the most flattering for your face), Canon professional cameras and lenses that have super high resolution and sharpness, and Lightroom for capture and Photoshop for editing. I’ll be retouching skin (making color consistent, removing blemishes), softening wrinkles, reshaping salient features (on request), removing stray hairs, and sharpening eyes.

Here are my recommendations for your efforts to be best prepared.


Bring clothing that you feel good in. Most importantly you need to feel like you look good, so the clothing you choose must facilitate those feelings of confidence. You should wear things that you presently own if possible, as we want you to look as much like yourself when you walk in the room as possible.

When making choices keep it to solid neutral colors (Avoid stripes, plaids, checkered patterns, and busy-prints. You can wear bright colors such as red or orange, but they tend to draw the viewer’s eye away from the face. It can still work in the image, so use your best judgment. Strive for contrast of skin-tones. Of course, dark colors are always a great option and offer a slimming and more flattering effect.

Fit is important. Try to find clothing that fits you well, especially around the neck. If you have lost or gained weight consider updating your wardrobe to ensure a proper fit, as baggy or ill-fitting clothing will have a big impact on your image.

In addition to the more formal looks you should also consider some casual clothing that will give you more variety in your looks. For example, bring a clean solid t-shirt, a leather jacket, turtleneck, or other type of sweater (avoid polo shirts as the collar doesn’t usually cooperate). We’ll do three-quarters in addition to three-button if you want, or we can even do full body to include your shoes.

Men: bring two or three formal looks (jacket, shirt, and tie combinations) in addition to the casual looks above.

Women: bring two or three dresses or suits and any other casual looks you’d like to use.


I generally don’t recommend makeup for men, but I do offer the services of a makeup artist if you’d like. For women, I do offer that service and do recommend it; however, if you choose to do that yourself that’s perfectly okay. Please go easy on foundation and try to keep your overall appearance as natural looking as possible. I recommend against using products that contain SPF as this will leave a shine on your skin. I can correct some of the makeup with retouching but it’s always easier to get it correct straight out of the camera. Bring your makeup tools and supplies with you and we can add or subtract as needed.


If people know you as wearing glasses, then by all means wear them during the session. We can adjust the lights to avoid glare and if necessary the glare can be retouched out of the images. If you have multiple pairs bring them all and we’ll take at least one series with each.

However, if it’s a judgment call, you’ll generally look better without your glasses.


You can wear jewelry; however, I do not recommend it whenever possible. Our goal is to keep distractions from the “message” (your face) to a minimum. For instance, studs are ok, but big hoops would definitely be that distraction! That being said, if you have a signature look that makes you recognizable, we will proceed as such.

Personal Hygiene, Grooming, & Hair

If you’re going to have lunch prior to our session, please make sure that you’ve brushed your teeth. I’m working at a very high resolution, so food particles will show up between your teeth. It’s always better to get it right in the capture process, rather than having to retouch.

Men: If you need to get your hair cut, please get it done at least one week before the session. This will allow things to normalize in your appearance. Style your hair as you would normally and bring any product or tools you would normally use to the session if there’s any doubt that you might need them. Trim the eyebrows and nose-hairs and even the hair coming out of your ears (if you’re older, this usually is a problem). Try to come right after you have shaved or bring your electric razor if you have one.

Women: If you need to get your hair cut, please get it done at least one week before the session. This will allow things to normalize in your appearance. If you are going to the stylist prior to our session, please ensure that you have plenty of time-margin to complete that process and travel to my studio to be on-time. This is especially important if you’re going to use our makeup artist.

Kevin Elwell Photography, LLC

Serving the District, Maryland, & Virginia
Studio in Centreville, VA 20121

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