How Do I Prep For My Headshot Session?

You want a great shot, right? The secret to a great shot is capturing a look that is distinctly you, which means that I, the photographer, need to connect with you, the actor, through the lens. This happens best when shooting is fun rather than a drag – when you look great and feel great in front of the camera. Too often actors don’t know how to prep before the session in order to make sure this is the case, so here are some tips I recommend you keep in mind when coming to a shoot:

TIP 1: Get some shut-eye! Sleep well the night before your shoot; if you are well rested, you’ll be ready to rock it!

If you feel tired you are going to look tired – there is no amount of Photoshop that can hide it. Fatigue shows in the eyes, and what is in your eyes is what comes through the lens. That’s why I like to shoot in the morning, when you are fresh. For some, that will mean 9 a.m., and for some of you night owls it might mean 11:30!

TIP 2: No excessive make-up! Clean, natural-looking skin gets noticed AND costs you less when it comes to retouching.

Whether it be bare skin or flawless natural makeup, you want to look as clean-faced as possible in your photos. Now, as much as we’d all love to have perfect skin, let’s face it – we all have some imperfections! The key to a successful headshot is not highlighting those imperfections.

For the guys: Come to the shoot with clean skin that is moisturized. Always bring some powder just in case you need a little shine control. Be sure to talk to your photographer (me!) about whether you want scruffy, bearded, or clean-shaven looks and if you need time to shave in between. If you have skin problems you want to hide, we can hire a makeup artist to help you, but I only recommend this in extreme cases: one or two blemishes can be erased with retouching.

For the gals: If you would like me to hire a makeup artist for you, just let me know at the time you book your appointment. If you want to bring your own makeup artist, please let me know in advance. Either way, come with skin that is clean, moisturized, and ready for your makeup artist to work – we don’t want to waste time removing makeup when we could be shooting! If you are going to do your own makeup, keep it clean, fresh and natural. Less is more! Think about tinted moisturizers, mineral makeup, etc. Use makeup you have used before; if you buy a new brand, take it for a test run a few days before your shoot. I also recommend you practice the technique of the “tight eye line.” This creates beautiful definition without looking overly “made up”. I personally recommend Laura Mercier; ask a sales associate to show you how to do it. Remember, we can always add more makeup for your more dramatic looks. For your hair, be sure to bring clips, elastics, brushes, combs and hair curling/straightening equipment so we can touch up if necessary, and possibly achieve a dynamic range of looks!

The tight eye line:The Tight Line

Tip 3: Iron, steam or dry clean your clothes before your shoot. Hang everything up.

Remember: NO WRINKLES! Try to bring each item of clothing, even t-shirts, hanging on it’s own hanger. If we aren’t going to see it, you can shove it in a bag, but let’s face it – wrinkles in your clothes are distracting. It doesn’t matter how expensive a shirt is, if it’s wrinkled it looks cheap. Your headshot is your business card, so you want to look put together and reliable. Of course, there are always exceptions to the wrinkle rule – certain looks may call for you to be a little disheveled – but it should be a choice, an intentional part of the headshot image you and I are creating.

Tip 4: Bring clothes with solid colors with great texture.

Texture is important. Bring a variety of textures, from cozy sweaters and flannel to rich, decadent satins or silk. A good texture can direct the viewers eye to your face, or emphasize your physique.

In this headshot, John’s sweater draws your eye to his face and yet blends with the monochromatic background.

As a viewer I am seeing him, not his clothing.

Theatrical Headshot

In this portrait, the bold color of the satin compliments the color of Camille’s hair and reflects the highlights in her eyes.

All I can do is look deep into her eyes in this image; she looks like a painting! 1920’s Portrait

Tip 5: Bring clothes that make you feel like your best self; the clothes that make you feel that WOW!

Don’t limit yourself. Sure, some patterns are too busy, but better to bring a range of options than too few. The rule with patterns is not to make them too big – small and subtle is the key. Bring jackets and scarves and be ready to layer. I usually like simple best, but there is always an exception to every rule, so if you love it, bring it with you!

If you follow these simple tips, you should have a great experience getting your new headshot done. Remember to be yourself, speak up if you have questions, and most of all HAVE FUN! You’ll look amazing!

Nicola