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How To Get A Great Headshot

Morgana-Bali-HeadshotHere’s a secret.

I used to think I wasn’t photogenic.

In fact I knew it.

Really and truly. I used to HIDE from the camera. I HATED taking headshots.

It took a couple of good photographers–and some good strategy–to change my mind.

And now… my clients and readers frequently ask me about photos.

Because really: anyone can have awesome headshots.

After ten years in the entertainment, and another fifteen years as a coach (and at least $12,000 worth of photo shoots!),  I think I’ve earned my stripes as an expert on the subject.

And this is IMPORTANT: You can go cheap on your website. You can host audio-classes for free. You can, in fact, market your entire business successfully for almost nothing at all. But you can’t get away with a bad photo. Especially if you want to be paid well.

I’m SHARING MY SECRETS in today’s featured article.

Whether you’re shooting with a pro or a friend, here are some tips to make it much easier:


For clothing — Pick the colors best for your eyes and skin tones. Black and white are risky, but the right photographer can pull them off. Blues are usually a safe bet. (Reds are my best color, so I often use red.) Shirts with collars are the most flattering. They frame the face. Jewelry can be distracting.
I let my photographer choose my accessories.

Hair — get a hair cut. If you need color, color it a couple of days before the shoot. A blow out the day before can also help.

Make up — you need much more make-up. (Even guys need make-up.) Not so much that you look like a drag queen, but much more than you wear in real life. Make-up looks different on camera.

For men — foundation, bronzer and powder is a must. Since you guys have less experience with make-up, you’ll probably need a make-up artist to help you out.

For women — a thicker foundation with more coverage, more mascara, some eyeliner, more lipstick.

People who look polished make more money.

Special tip: use YELLOW BASED foundations to warm your skin and avoid looking like a sickly, pasty mime.


To help you look like yourself — play your all time favorite peppy music that makes you want to dance. MOVE AROUND. Create angles with your body. If possible, bring a friend. Have a glass of wine. Have your photographer take at least 100 photos. (500 photos is more realistic, if you want to get some really good shots.) Digital cameras make that easy and cheap.

Outdoor lighting is more flattering, and it’s easier for the subject to relax. If you don’t have a professional photographer with light fillers, shoot outdoors. Even if you DO have a professional photographer with light fillers, shoot outdoors. You look more real and relaxed and approachable in natural light.

When shooting out doors, afternoon light is usually better for filling in the hollows of our faces.  Stay away from direct, overhead sunlight. Overcast days are the most flattering.

Don’t stand close to your background in your profile photos: the background should be in the distance and slightly out of focus, so we’re looking at YOU.


When you’re done, you’ll still need some RETOUCHING. Things that aren’t noticeable (or even visible) in person will show up on film: blood vessels in your eyes, weird shadows. Clean stuff up, but make sure you still look like a human being. I recommend for affordability and speed.

Women are much harder to shoot than men. All those flaws that give a man’s face character don’t translate well on a woman.

My favorite photographers who can shoot men AND women well:

Lindsay Miller took my photo’s in Bali for my May 2013 retreat. And I’ll be flying her back to Bali in 2014. She’s on of my favorite photographers. With and without make-up, real women of all sizes,
 shapes, ethnicities and ages (half of my women were over 50), everyone looked GORGEOUS! And they got CLIENTS with those photos… and boyfriends…

Siddiqi Ray is another one of my favorites. She’s magical. She has an extraordinary talent for bringing out your inner light with her soul portraits.

Starla Fortunato shot my signature red dress photo. She’s a genius. Starla is also one of just a few photographers who like women and know how to make us look like ourselves, and look pretty too.


we_mag_morgana MORGANA RAE is an international #1 best selling author, pioneer in personal development, and regarded to be the world’s leading Relationship with Money coach. Morgana’s groundbreaking program for attracting wealth has featured her on ABC-TV, PBS, CNN, NPR, United Press International and The Wall Street Journal online. Learn how to become a Money Magnet with her FREE 4-part video gift series. Fill out your name in the form at the top of the page. (We promise not to share your info!)

  1. Lisa Tener says:

    Thanks for the info, Morgana. Your headshots are some of the best I’ve seen. In fact, as I re-do my websites, getting headshots as great as yours have been on my list. Wish I lived in LA!

    1. Morgana Rae says:

      Good headshots are worth the plane ticket to LA.

  2. Great advice, Morgana! Thank you so much for this post. I have been wanting to get some professional photos, but have been putting it off because I was not certain what to do. Now I can move forward.

  3. Great article. My husband is now my photographer after years of terror in front of the camera…and far too much money spent on photographers with a ‘look’ they see that has nothing to do with me! Great info…

  4. Eleanor Howe says:

    This is so timely.. I need a few headshots for my blog, writing, and project management businesses, and this is a primer for me.

  5. thanks, I loved the part with the glass ;).. wow

  6. LA Headshots says:

    Great article, so many people don’t realize how much work goes on AFTER the shoot!

  7. Justin says:

    Morgana, some interesting advice in this article.

    I’ve offered some more advice/tips for getting the most out of headshot sessions from a photographer’s perspective here:

    While you can certainly have a friend or significant other shoot headshots for you, bear in mind finding a professional who has the experience of helping you bring out your best will yield the best return on your time and resources. That way, you won’t even NEED to sift through 500+ photos to find the “really good shots” to help market yourself.

    1. Morgana Rae says:

      I agree! Good headshots are worth investing in. If you want to look professional, work with a professional photographer…

  8. Rebecca says:

    Morgana, thanks so much for sharing this. I’m wondering if you would be interested in writing a post about how to feel and look beautiful while shooting video.

    I know that you shoot a lot of video that you share with us here on your site and it seems to be more routine, with less makeup and preparation & professional help involved, than the steps you described for getting photographs. But you always look confident, relaxed, and beautiful.

    I’ve recently started doing more video on my site, too, and I’m surprised how vulnerable and exposed it can make me feel! If this is something you are interested in writing about and sharing how you do it so well, I’m sure a lot of people would be interested to read it. 🙂 hugs to you!

    1. Morgana Rae says:

      Oooh! What a great idea, Rebecca. I think that would be a fun article to write. Thanks for the suggestion!

  9. Tammo says:

    You are giving us great advice Morgana, but the picture on top of this blog isn’t that good. It is a bit overexposed, your forehead looks very white and actually it looks a bit like you took a picture of yourself using your smartphone. The forward stretched arms reinforce that impression.
    Your photo on the header or this website (holding the key) is very good though.

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