Preparing for your headshot session

1 – BEFORE YOUR SESSION

If you have a headshot session coming up be good to yourself. Don’t go out drinking the week before, drink plenty of water and get those early nights. That all sounds very boring I know, but your headshot is your calling card so if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Be good to yourself.

2 – BOOK A LATER SESSION

As soon as you have to get up early and be well rested for your session you will of course not sleep a wink. If you don’t have to work that day ask for a later appointment as it means that if that happens you’ll at least get a nap in or maybe get a chance to chill out before. It is all psychological so it might be enough not keep you up late.

3 – WHAT TO WEAR

Colour headshots are much more fashionable now, so we are able to experiment more. It’s always good to bring something white and something black, but I always encourage my clients to bring colours. Pattern’s are also not a problem and as long as logos are not too complicated, as they can be edited out after, then bring those too. Select items that have interesting and differing necklines and layering items is also a good bet.

Think about your casting… this doesn’t mean you need to come dressed as a police officer, but we want to capture a range of possible castings. If you are not sure bring it all with you… better to bring more rather than less.

4 – CONSIDER HAIR & MAKE UP CAREFULLY

Some make up is very useful, but some it can also be a photographers nightmare to edit, especially if it’s not done well. Natural make up is what we want in a professional actors headshot.

EYES My focus is always the eyes so some mascara and matte eye shadow is great.

EYEBROWS this is a big bugbear for me… the trend is to have block eyebrows and although it may look nice it is far too modern and is too much of a statement and will leave you out of any period castings. Please keep your eyebrows natural.

LIPS A lip stain is better than a lipstick, but if you are going to use lipstick a matte one is preferred and make sure it is of a nude or natural tone.

SKIN It’s good to keep you skin hydrated, but be aware that your skin should not look too shiny. I know it is horrible if you feel your skin is not being great, but part of our skill set is we can edit spots and blemishes so please don’t worry. If you really find it hard to be completely natural then just keep it light… it’s always a good idea to take your makeup with you anyway and that way you and the photographer can discuss it.

HAIR if you have long hair bring whatever you will need to change your hairstyles.

MEN it’s well worth bringing your shaving equipment along so that you can get with and without facial hair should you want to.

5 – BRING IT!

Although being relaxed is important it is also true that a headshot session is part of your job, so treat it like work and bring it! It can also help if you hate having your photo taken, as it gives you the kind of focus you have in an audition. It is completely normal for actors to feel vulnerable in a session as they are not used to performing as themselves… So don’t think of it as you being you. Switch on. Not all nerves are bad, so don’t worry if you feel anxious, just embrace it and focus. Part of our job is to help you relax… I absolutely hate having my photo taken, but a good photographer will make it relaxed and fun for you.

6 – EMBRACE THE THINGS YOU HATE

In an industry where there are a growing number of actors every year, it is more important than ever to stand out. The things you hate about yourself maybe the very things that make you different. We all want to be seen as beautiful, that’s natural, but confidence is the most attractive quality.

If you have a scar don’t let them Photoshop it. I hear so often ‘I don’t like that side of my face’ or ‘my nose is too big’… We are our own worst critics and the things you hate about yourself might be exactly what others love about you.

Embrace the things you hate and have fun!

Here is my link to choosing the best Headshot photographer

5 tips on choosing a headshot photographer

headshot blog image

Here are a few helpful tips on choosing your new headshot photographer

1 – Do a bit of research online

If your agent or friends haven’t already recommended someone you can do a simple search online in your area. Ask others actors for the photographers information if you like their headshot and once you have a shortlist go to the photographers website’s and just make sure the rest of their portfolio is of the same standard. Headshot Hunters is a great way to compare and search in your area.

2 – Talk to the photographer beforehand

You should feel comfortable with the photographer you will be working with, so take the time to give them a call. It’s a complete myth that actors love having their photos taken and in my experience it’s uncomfortable for most, me included, and you need to feel relaxed. You should be able to work out pretty quickly if you’ll get on and all good photographers will be happy to answer any questions you have beforehand.

3 – How much should it cost?

Headshot prices vary, but just remember this is an IMPORTANT INVESTMENT in your career. I know money can be tight sometimes, but a headshot is the tool to get you noticed, they are a necessity, so it’s more than worth the money. You don’t need to pay £400, but neither should you be paying £50. If you scrimp on your photographer you’ll end up paying more later when you need a new set of photos.

4 – Natural verses Studio light

All photographers have different ways of working with different equipment that suits them. I prefer to use natural light source because natural light is more even and flattering. I do however have and use studio lighting when needed and I would recommend finding someone that uses both as it shows flexibility and knowledge.

Now this is only my opinion, but I have heard it echoed by casting directors… I believe headshots should focus on you, the actor, and not a trendy backdrop/setting… If we are looking at the fancy background we are not looking at you.

5 – How long should a session be?

When you call your potential photographer ask them how long the session is… Part of my job is getting to know a bit about you and what you are looking for. My sessions have no time limit, but they naturally take approximately 2 hours. Make sure you choose a photographer that won’t rush you so you are going to be provided with a relaxed environment in which to work.

Happy headshot hunting!

Spotlight the professional actors catalogue for casting directors and industry also has a lot of information on guidelines.