Who you are and what you do: that is the story a good professional headshot will tell about you in a single glance.

The importance of a professional or corporate headshot for people in business cannot be underestimated.

These images are your personal brand; they capture your personality, character, uniqueness and work – and build a relationship with potential clients or customers.

These photographs can be used on marketing or advertising collateral, and play a particularly valuable role online – promoting yourself on professional platforms such as LinkedIn or other sites such as Facebook or Instagram.

I am a Cairns-based photographer specialising in professional and corporate headshots and work out of my studio – Captured by Catherine.   I understand just how important these images are for personal branding and I work closely with all clients to get the best results.

Brand Focus – Each issue features a new Entrepreneur photographed by Catherine Coombs

One of the most frequent questions I am asked by people is what they should wear in a professional headshot. Luckily the rules are pretty straightforward and simple, and always based on the premise that the images are about your face, not your clothes.

Firstly, decide on the tone you are trying to establish in your headshots – which will be determined by the culture of the business you are in (Formal? Artistic? New-age?), as well as your personality. If you are very extroverted and passionate, you should reflect that in your clothing. A quieter person might choose something more suited to their personality. It is all about being true to who you are, and being comfortable in your outfit.

Colour is the next thing to consider. Plain colours are best, because patterns will draw attention away from your face and date more quickly. Think about your skin tone, and choose colours that suit – mid-tone colours such as blue, green, maroon and purple work well for just about everyone, whereas bright red or orange can be hard to pull off unless you are super-confident. Try to avoid flesh-toned tops, which can blend your face into your clothes, and choose the colour that accentuates your eyes instead.

Skip the stark black and white option for professional headshots as well.

Even though these are great choices in a professional office, they don’t photograph as well as other deep tones such as chocolate or navy. Also, black can give off a severe tone, which means people might not warm to you as quickly.

Give some thought to fabrics and textures, and remember that contrasts in these will photograph well. A blue shirt with a navy jacket could look great for instance, but remember to keep it simple, and avoid patterns.

Your outfit should fit well. Too big, and it looks a little messy and baggy; too small, and you will look and feel uncomfortable. This will come through in the photo – and defeat the purpose of a quality professional headshot.

It is really important to consider the neckline of the outfit you will wear, because this is the part of your clothing closest to your face. A modest V-neck flatters everybody, because it makes your neck look longer. Just don’t make that V too deep, otherwise the resultant images might not look quite so professional. Think about texture here – a crisp ironed shirt will frame the face beautifully, while a fine gauge knit top will offer some textural contrast. If you decide to wear a jacket, make sure the top underneath is collarless. This avoids unnecessary distraction.

Nearly there now – just don’t forget to accessorise! Jewellery looks lovely in professional headshots, just so long as it is tasteful and simple. If it attracts attention away from the face by being too large or bright, then it is just too much and will date too quickly. The only person allowed to break this rule is someone who works in the jewellery industry – because their statement pieces represent their personal brand and business. Always keep in mind that the jewellery – as well as other accessories – you choose should complement what you are wearing, not dominate it.

There is just one more thing you need to wear to your professional headshot photo session….and that is your smile. Your mother wasn’t fibbing when you told you it was your best asset – it generates warmth and trust, and will make people want to know you better. A corporate headshot is all about revealing who you are, and you are never more beautiful than when you smile. So get comfortable, relax, thing of something that makes you happy – and smile!