Website Photography: What to wear for website photos

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It’s Jennie Lakenan, certified life coach & consultant for your web design strategy needs. Over the last handful of years I’ve designed dozens of websites for coaches. My mission is to get more coaching into the world and help elevate the quality of life of humans at large by delivering expert custom website design and strategy to coaches.

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The Life Coach's Tech Roadmap

The only 5 pieces of tech a coach needs to set up an online business without overwhelm.

5 simple website fixes to get more coaching clients

Five sure-fire ways to increase the number of clients you sign from your coaching website.

Keep reading for my take on what outfits work well for website photos, and a few foibles to avoid when considering what to wear.

You’re prepping to have headshot photos taken for your new website, and you have an idea of what your branding and overall website look and feel will be. Or, perhaps you’re looking to refresh an old website with new photos.

But you aren’t sure what to wear for the photoshoot. Do you dress casually? Professionally? What colors do you go with? Should they match your website?

As one who works on websites for coaches all day long, I’ll just remind you that, second to content, photos are one of the most important pieces of the site. They can really make or break the look and feel.

I get a lot of questions about style and what to wear for website photos, so I thought it deserved a post all its own.

Keep reading for some tips on what to wear so that your website photography will match the look and feel of your site.

Your website photos ought to compliment your brand.

Here’s the thing – your website photo outfits should compliment your branding. You know, the color scheme and general feel (relaxed or prim and proper, etc) or your website. That’s a given.

But there’s no need to match your website branding colors exactly.

Things can get matchy-matchy really quick if you pick clothes that too closely match your website colors.

To avoid looking like you’re trying too hard, just go with outfits that are complimentary colors to your branding, but avoid going too close to them. You want to add some visual variety in the mix.

When in doubt, dress how you would meeting a new client.

Unsure how casual or professional to dress? You’ve got to think about how you want to present yourself to your ideal client. Ultimately, your website is a positioning tool.

Are you the seasoned professional? Are you the authority? Or are you a friend who’s here to offer advice and help? The former will likely want to dress much more professionally in their website photos than the latter.

If you aren’t sure, just consider how you’d dress when meeting with a new client. Then you’ll have an idea of how professionally or casual to dress in your website photos.

A note on color and pattern combinations for your website photos.

We’ve talked about how your outfit colors ought to be complimentary to your branding — close, but not too close. But color selection is also going to be dependent on your skin tone.

Choose colors that contrast with your skin tone.

If your skin is lighter, in general it’s best to choose darker colors for your website photo outfits. Lighter color clothing can tend to make light-skinned folks appear washed out.

Additionally, wearing darker colors will put more emphasis on your eyes and smile instead of on the clothes themselves, which is what we want.

And vice versa, If you’re darker skinned, pick an outfit for your website photos that contrasts with your skin and isn’t too earthy. This will bring more attention to your face and your smile and will help website visitors to notice the smile they will come to know and trust.

What colors look good against your skin will depends on the person, of course. (My own headshots are a break to the color rule.) But follow the above advice as a general rule of thumb.

Avoid patterns or too bright of colors.

Busy or large patterns and bright colors can work well if they’re layered under another piece of darker clothing, like a blazer. But avoid too much pattern and color on its own.

You should be wearing the clothes, not the clothes wearing you.

Don't wear patterns and bright colors

Avoid low-cut tops and bare arms in your website photos, but not for the reason you think.

What works well for website photography is similar in principle with any professional headshot.

Cleavage can be distracting in website photos, it’s true. But maybe (if you’re a gal) you like a little cleavage to show in your day-to-day dress, or you enjoy strapless outfits, and those outfits match your positioning as a sassy coach to your ideal client. That’s totally fine, no judgment here.

Showing a lot of skin is a technical issue, not a moral one.

For website photography, having a low-cut top can actually make it difficult to crop as close in on your face as we sometimes need to for a particular design. Believe me, I know this from experience.

Worse case scenario, you end up looking like you’re not wearing a top at all on one of your favorite photos. That’s a bummer!

Go with long instead of short sleeves.

Along those same lines, long sleeves are actually best in website photos. Short sleeves can be distracting because there’s additional skin attracting attention so close to your face. Long sleeves help keep the focus on you and your smile, which helps you build trust faster with website visitors.

Keep your photo outfit style classic. 

It’s easy to want to go trendy in your website photos. But if you want your site to stand the test of time, keep it classic with your clothing. Otherwise you risk looking outdated in a year or two.

(Remember gouchos? Yikes.)

Classic, but not worn.

Here’s the thing – your website photo outfits ought to be clean, wrinkle-free, and unfaded.

Older clothes tend to look a little dingier, a little more faded, even if they’re clean and freshly pressed.

Because of this, I recommend that if you have the budget for it, get a couple of new outfits for your website photos so you look classic, but polished.

How’s the fit?

Avoid loose-fitting or baggy clothes in your website photos. Form fitting items tend to look more neat and polished, regardless of how casual you’re dressing.

Rookie Mistakes

There are a few mistakes I see in poses and hairstyle for website photos, so I’ll touch on those here.

Make sure your eyes are clearly visible in the picture.

You don’t need to be looking directly at the camera, but be sure both eyes are visible (like on my homepage). Having your eyes covered up or shadowed by hair or a hat is distracting.

People will be thinking about how they can’t see your face clearly instead of considering whether or not to work with you. Not what we want!

Make sure your eyes are clearly showing in website photos

On the hair…

I don’t recommend you get a haircut the day before having website photos. If you need a new haircut, have it be at least a week beforehand. That way your hair has a few days to grow and relax into its natural form before you have photos taken.

I hope this advice on what to wear and how to style your appearance for website photos is helpful!


P.S. In summary, your website photo outfits ought to compliment your branding, but no need to match exactly. Avoid showing a lot of skin so your face and smile is the focus of the photo. Keep your outfit style classic.

And when in doubt, dress as you would going to meet a new client.



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