Prepare as soon as possible. Having everything in order before the day of the shoot will result in a stress free day, and that will reflect positively in your images.
Clothing reflects personality. When defining your brand you’ll need to think about how the clothing in your headshots will play into this. Choose items that are in line with the image you’re trying to project. But be sure to keep it simple.
- Avoid solid whites, even in dress shirts, and be careful with all black outfits. They can pull colour out of your face and whites bounce too much light. Solid colors or greys look great in headshots.
- Don't wear anything baggy. Well fitting, fresh looking garments look better than loose clothing. We need to see your frame and physique accurately.
- Try to avoid patterns, but if you are going with a pattern, keep it simple. Patterns draw the Casting Director’s attention away from your eyes and face, and that’s not a good thing.
- Avoid visible logos.
- Jewelry should be kept minimal.
- Start with a simple top and experiment with adding layers for variety. Perhaps by adding or removing layers you can shift between casual and professional looks. Or by adding something like a leather jacket you can transition into an edgier look.
- Ladies - Make sure you're wearing the correct bra for the top you've chosen so that bra straps or parts of the bra are not showing.
- Bring a few changes of clothes to the shoot.
- Make sure that ALL clothes are ironed and pressed before the shoot. Wrinkles in clothes are impossible to Photoshop out completely.
- Bring a lint brush or roller with you.
Think about your hair well in advance. If you do intend to get a haircut, it should be done about a week to 3 days prior to the shoot. Freshly cut hair can sometimes look odd on camera.
You’ll want a simplistic style that reflects you, and that highlights the natural curves and shape of your face. Don’t do anything too different than how you would have it at an audition. Casting Directors like to meet the person they see in the headshot, not someone that looks completely different.
- Bring a brush and some hair product (gel/hairspray) with you to the shoot to help calm fly-aways.
If you have long hair you can start with your hair down and towards the end of the shoot you could put it up for a different look, but this is not necessary.
Makeup and Face
GET ENOUGH SLEEP AND DRINK WATER.
Men generally do not need makeup for headshots. Shave before you leave for a shoot so that you have enough time for any redness to disappear. But not long enough that you get a 5 o’clock shadow. They can’t be Photoshopped out. Use cooling gel or aftershave to help with skin irritation. Moisturize.
Ladies if you are getting makeup done by a makeup artist at the shoot, come with minimal makeup.
If you decide to do your own make-up,, the important thing to remember is to keep it light and natural. You’re looking for just enough make-up to slightly highlight and to cover up any blemishes. Try to stick to earthy tones and neutral colours. Bring make-up and lip balm/gloss with you to the shoot in case any touch-ups are needed.
Again, you don’t want to do anything too different to how you would look at an audition. Casting Directors expect to meet the person they see in the headshot, and if they get a shock they’ll likely feel like you’ve wasted their time and you'll leave them with a bad professional impression of you.
- Start natural. Just enough to cover up any blemishes.
- Try not to use matte styles of makeup. It will dry out your skin.
- Bring your makeup and moisturizer with you to the shoot in case your skin does get dry or you need touchups.
- Bring lip balm or lip gloss with you to help keep lips looking soft.
- The night before brush your lips with your toothbrush to help get rid of any dead skin.
- Don’t do any extreme beauty regimens right before your shoot, like facial peels, tanning or extensive exfoliating. Your skin will look very irritated.
- Get rid of any unwanted hair a few days before your shoot. Clean up brows and upper lip hair.
- If you have oily skin, bring some oil absorbing sheets to soak up any oil or sweat that might build up during the shoot.
- Leave your colored contacts at home and bring clear contacts with you. Colored contacts are extremely noticeable in photographs. Bring eye drops with you if you wear contacts.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before the shoot look at your face in the mirror and see what side you like better. Everyone has a good side, find yours. Remember though, a mirror will flip your face and the camera won’t, so the images might look a little different than you were expecting. If you can, test your angles with a camera on a self timer.
If you have one eye that is visibly smaller than the other bring the side of your face with the smaller eye towards the camera. It will help reduce the difference between the two.
Rehearse your facial expressions. Chances are that you will be doing a variety of facial expressions on the day of the shoot. You want to rehearse a variety of smiles—a big smile, a three-quarter smile, a half smile, and a closed-mouth smile. Perhaps this sounds a bit tedious, but, upon practicing in the mirror, or using a camera, you will see what types of smiles look most natural on you. Use your acting skills to make those smiles authentic. You will also want to rehearse your serious, more “dramatic” facial expressions.
During the Shoot
Relax and breathe. On the day, you will want to feel relaxed in your body posture. Perhaps do some light stretching or yoga in the morning to get prepared. Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and that you are breathing from your diaphragm to avoid any stiffness.
Always have good posture. Keep your back straight even if you are tilting forward slightly in a shot, which you often will be. (Leaning forward has a slimming effect on camera.) You always want a straight back because good posture indicates confidence.
What you do with your lower body affects the upper body. Shift your weight to one foot or the other. Try moving a hip out. This can add energy to the upper body.
Relax your hands and arms. Your hands (and forearms most likely) won’t appear in many of your headshots, but it is nonetheless important that they remain relaxed. Let them drop naturally. If one part of your body is tense or awkward, it will affect the rest of your body and posture.
Follow the photographer’s direction. Even if it sounds a little silly. We know the best posing on headshots and the best way to shape your face. You may feel a little funny posing differently, but trust me the photos will look great.
Practice chin awareness. Sometimes, the camera will be right at eye level, making it possible—depending on how you have your head placed—for it to appear as thought you have a double chin (even if you do not). Throughout the photo shoot—even when you are asked to lower your chin—pretend there is a large orange underneath your chin. You always want a space between your chin and your neck. You may feel like a turtle for half of your shoot, but once your photos come out, you won’t be able to tell that you were holding such a pose. Just stay as relaxed as possible, regardless of how unnatural a position may feel.
Don’t force your smile. It will look awkward in the images and your cheeks will be sore after the shoot. A good tip is to leave a little space between your teeth when smiling, enough to put the tip of your pinky in between. Your smile will look more genuine.
Headshot sessions should be fun! Don’t be afraid to let your guard down. Use your acting skills. Get into character. Play. Express through your eyes. Act as if the camera is your best friend, your true love, or your enemy—depending on the look or expression you are going for. And most of all, enjoy it!
Communicate with your eyes. Regardless of your facial expression, always communicate with your eyes. Your eyes are a window to your personality and must be active and engaging in every single photo.
Here is a great technique if you want to look confident in front of a camera. You need know how to control the muscles around your eyes. Watch this tutorial on the Squinch:
Know What You Want
Modeling for a headshot photograph is like acting for a still camera. Take some time in advance to consider what kind of feeling you are trying capture in your image. Prepare by thinking ahead of some of the characters you want to be cast as and then practicing their "looks" in front of the mirror.