Headshot 101: Five tips on how to prepare for your headshot session
Updated: Jul 29, 2018
For the pros out there, these tips might seem pretty obvious, but it never hurts to check in and be certain you’re making all the necessary preparations before you shoot! Headshots are one the most important investments you’ll make for your acting career. Believe me, as a fellow working actor, I've invested a lot of $$ in them over the years, so I understand the pressure to get them right. Conclusion: do your homework. You'll be so glad you did!
1. Consult with you reps Have a conversation with your agent and manager get their input on the looks and types that are needed for your acting portfolio. They are submitting you daily and will likely have some specific ideas on what they want. Don’t have a rep? Consult an acting coach, a scene partner or a branding expert. You might think you play the gritty villain, but maybe your type is more of a lovable mama’s boy. Who knows? It’s important to get some perspective on how you're perceived by the industry so that you can get the photos that will get you work.
2. Get the right wardrobe. There is no excuse for not having the right wardrobe. You can always return anything you don’t end up using, but do shop around or dig through your closet until you have complete outfits with multiple options for each look. Consider borrowing items from a friend who is your size if necessary. If one of your looks is for a leading lady on a CW show, your wardrobe should be on trend, hip and probably sexy. Watch the shows that are currently casting and get a feel for the overall look of the characters that you think represent your type.
3. Get a good night’s sleep. I cannot stress this enough. There is a lot you can fix in Photoshop, but why spend the time and money on it when a solid night’s rest will do you just as good? No puffy eyes or dark circles allowed. You’ll also need plenty of energy to have a great shoot!
4. Hire make-up and hair. Unless you are a total pro at doing your own hair and make-up, I strongly urge actors to hire a make-up artist. It’s almost impossible to know what the right amount of make-up is for a headshot shoot until you are in front of those lights. The general rule of thumb is to keep it fresh and natural, or there’s my rule of thumb, hire a professional.
5. Know your type. Specificity in casting is everything. This one echoes back to #1, but is worth mentioning again. Come to your headshot session knowing the kind of characters - and their essences - you aim to portray through your photos. Pretty pictures are nice, but for headshots, it's important to think about them from a marketing perspective. What are you selling? And how do you want people to feel when they look at your photos? Do they evoke fear, irritation, warmth, love, or lust?
All that said, the most important thing you can bring to your photo session is you. Your authentic energy and unique personality are as vital to the outcome of a successful shoot as all of these tips combined. So bring that. It won’t cost you a dime.