Headshot Extravaganza Part 3: How to Make the Most of Your Shoot!

by Teresa Reilly on June 17, 2009

Congratulations!  You’ve figured out what kind of headshots you want, you’ve you’re your research, you’ve found your killer photographer, and now…all you have to do is actually shoot the darned things.  The irony of the situation is, of course, we get our pictures taken all day long.  We have digital cameras, camera phones, video cameras, security cameras, web cams…the list goes on.  We’re constantly seeing photos of ourselves on Facebook and twitter, and submitting our portraits on casting websites.  It should be a piece of cake to take some headshots, right?  Wrong!  For some annoying reason, taking headshots can be super stressful and/or nerve-wracking, which is why you should find a photographer who is relaxing and fun; isn’t that how you want your pics to look?  So, let’s talk about what you can do to maximize your Zen-like calm during your photo shoot, both before and during the big day.

1.    Get Some Rest! Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep for the week leading up to the photo shoot.  Casting directors don’t want to see bags under your eyes, unless you’re going out for a lot of insomniac roles.  (Or zombies.)

2.    Cut out the Salt and Booze: For the five days leading up to your session, tone down your sodium intake, so you don’t inadvertently look a little bloated for your photographs.  And cut out the liquor a few days ahead of time, too.  Replace all that beer with good ol’ fashioned water to stay hydrated.  You’ll thank me when your skin looks healthy and radiant in your pictures.

3.    Choose Your Wardrobe Ahead Of Time: Talk to your photographer several days in advance to get a good idea of what kind of outfits they want you to bring.  Choose your clothing ahead of time and make sure you iron it all and get it ready to go at least a day in advance.  That way, you won’t be running late as you throw together that vital element of your photos.  Generally, they’ll ask you to supply clothing for several different “looks” (meaning, several different outfits appropriate for whatever different sides of your type you are trying to represent.  You might bring a sweater set if you’re playing a lot of young moms, or, if you want a photo of you in business attire, a suit as your second look).  My headshot photographer recommends thinking about lots of layers and textures (but not stripes or intricate patterns) when you’re choosing your wardrobe.  Button-down or collared shirts work great, as do bright colors and earth tones (purples, greens, blues, browns, and deep reds).  Try to avoid black and white.  If you’re going for a casual look (which most headshots do) a nice pair of jeans is the perfect complement.

4.    Be A Diva the Week Before:
Get tweezed, waxed and plucked in the preceding week.  You really, really don’t want to have a last-minute eyebrow fiasco at the salon and have to settle for overplucked eyebrows in your headshots.  You really don’t want a scary clown headshot.  Unless that’s your type.  (The same goes for dye jobs:  Test out your colors and find an amazing hairdresser!)

5.    Splurge on the Assistants: I firmly believe, whether or not you get a cheap-o photography student or Annie Liebovitz to take your shots, you should spend the extra money to hire a hair and makeup artist.  I know, I know, you’re probably wondering if it’s really that important.  You do your makeup every day, right?  Look, your headshots should look like you, yes, but they should look like you at your best.  And you will be busy at your shoot trying to relax and look confident and fun.  Your photographer will be busy making you look confident and fun.  No one but the makeup artist has time to make you look un-pimply, pretty, and appropriately shaded and colored.  Your photographer will usually have someone they work with, so you don’t have to worry about looking for one.  The makeup artist will also usually ask you to come with a clean, moisturized face, and audition-ready hair.  (She/He will make it camera-ready.)  Trust me.  A hair and makeup artist is worth every penny.

6.    Ask the Fun Questions: Make sure you ask your photographer if you can have music playing during your shoot.  Often, they’ll ask you to bring a CD of your favorite tunes to help you groove out and have a great time.  Then, ask if it’s all right to have a friend or familiar face come to support you.  They can help relax and encourage you while you explore all your best poses.  (To be fair, some photographers will nix bringing a friend.  Sometimes it can hinder more than it helps.  In my first headshot session, I brought my mother, and believe me, she hindered.  My photographer ended up shooting an extra roll of film because he felt bad that we were fighting so much.  Eeek!)

Got all that? Don’t be scared (especially of that camera!) and don’t sweat the small stuff.  Just find a photographer you trust, show up at the right time, and breathe.  You’ve done your homework, and now…all you have to do is smile.

Oh wait! I haven’t even told you about the fun part yet…picking your headshot.  Good luck and happy headshot-ing!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Cassidy June 17, 2009 at 11:41 am

Great advice – especially cutting out the booze the night before. Just had a client who didn’t take this advice and had a little too much excess eye baggage……..

John Cassidy @UKHeadshots

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