The 5 things you can do NOW to make your headshots drastically better

When you are preparing to have your headshots taken, thinking your way through the process can be quite overwhelming.  From my experience as a headshot photographer, giving significant thought to these five things can drastically improve the outcome of your shoot.

  1. It’s ALL in the eyes:  The eyes are the most important thing in a headshot.  When people look at a headshot, the eyes are the first thing they are drawn to.  The eyes need to convey emotion, thought, and energy to keep the viewer locked in.  The last thing you want is to have the “deer in headlights” feel to your eyes.  That look doesn’t convey confidence in a headshot at all.  If you remember that your goal here is to sell yourself as a competent ACTOR.  So when you’re in front of the camera……..ACT!!!  This doesn’t require words at all.  Just think about the emotions and energy that you want to project and let your eyes do the talking.
  2. Relax:  Your body positioning in front of the camera can be tricky.  When positioning a client, I try to take into account the position their body naturally falls into when we are conversing.  They’re usually at their most relaxed position so I play off of that when positioning them in front of the camera.  A headshot photographer should know the basics about what body angles look best in front of the camera so you, as the actor, should focus on staying comfortable and natural looking.  Any discomfort or forced posing will certainly show up in your headshots.
  3. Keep hair and make-up simple: I highly recommend hiring a professional hair and make-up artist (H/MA) because they know the look that you’re trying to achieve.  Studio flashes and cameras can really amplify make-up so knowing how to jeep it subtle, yet effective takes experience.  Usually, when people try to handle their own make-up, they overdo it and create a look that doesn’t really work in front of the camera.  The same goes for hair styling.  Don’t go so far that your hair and make-up pulls attention away from your eyes.  Hair and make-up should enhance your look, not create it.
  4. Keep wardrobe just as simple: Solid, earthy tones tend to work well.  You don’t want to wear a busy print that creates a distraction.  That applies to jewelry as well.  A big, shiny necklace that pulls attention away from the eyes is not a good idea (notice a trend here?).  A top is really the only major concern unless you’re taking ¾ length or full body shots.  Bring several options to the shoot and talk with your photographer to pick out the best ones for the look you are trying to achieve.
  5. Research photographers: My main suggestions about this one is simple:  DO THE RESEARCH!  Talk to other actors who have great headshots and find out who took them.  Get suggestions from talent agencies since most of them usually have photographers they prefer.  Pick at least 3 photographers that produce the work you like and interview them.  I suggest meeting them in person to see if you vibe well with that person.  The last thing you want to do is have several conversations with your photographer via email, only to meet them in person the day of the shoot and learn that their energy clashes with yours.

This list really just scratches the surface so be on the lookout for a Part 2 on this topic.  It’s so important that you feel as though you can be the best version of yourself.  If your photographer doesn’t know how to pull that out of you, that is a HUGE problem.  When you get to the studio to shoot your headshots, walk in there with a plan and work with your photographer to pull that plan off without a hitch.  When you walk out of there, you should feel like you knocked it out of the park.  You deserve nothing less!!

I really hope this information helps.  As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me.  It’s always appreciated!  I’ll see you next week!

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