Preparing for a Great Headshot

Posted May 25, 2011

A picture is worth a 1000 words and when it comes to your headshot, you want those 1000 words to include attractive, interesting, professional and approachable.  I’m going to outline some basics for you on a great plan for headshots.  It’s actually very easy!

Please remember, if you are signed with Azalea, or any agency for that matter, you should always talk to your agent before shooting.  I can tell you what style to aim for, what type you are being marketed as and suggest a great photographer for the job.

If you are not signed to an agent, but are planning to join an agency DO NOT SHOOT until you are under contract with Azalea!  I often can’t use photos that talent pull together before signing because they are the wrong style or quality.  Don’t blow your money before you even get started!

Headshots are an investment and if you cut corners it usually shows.  Your first step is to find a quality photographer who specializes in talent photography.  There are many great photographers who can rock the camera at a wedding, a senior portrait or with cute kids, but headshots and modeling looks are a totally different style.

Once you have your session booked, it’s prep time.  And trust me, you cannot prep enough!  You need to plan on getting your hair cut, colored, or highlighted.  Make sure you pick a style you can maintain as long as you are using your photos, which is generally about 18 months.  You may also consider a facial, manicure, pedicure, eyebrow shaping and tooth cleaning.

Your headshot should look like you, but the most awesome pulled together version of you available.  Cut the salt in your diet to avoid water weight and try to avoid alcohol for at least 48 hours before your shoot.  This is especially true for men who tend to bloat along the jawline after a few beers.

Dig through your closet or make a shopping trip to find some great wardrobe options.  Remember those suggestions I made for auditions? All those same rules apply for your photo shoot.  Ideally you should try to shoot a look from each of those categories, so a nice casual, an upscale casual and a business look.  The one big difference with your headshot shoot and auditions is that you can absolutely rock jeans in your photos.  It’s a double standard, I know, but I don’t make the rules.

Pick your top two outfits for each look, then prep a few more as back ups.  It’s always better to pack too much for your shoot than to show up with one shirt and a smile.  Sometimes a photographer may like a certain color or style for the background and lighting they have in mind.  Try not to get in the way of your photographer’s artistic instincts.  It’s part of the reason you hired that person.

During the shoot, try to have fun.  It may sound cliche, but if you are uncomfortable or not enjoying yourself, it will be painfully obvious in your shots.  A natural smile and exuberance makes your photos feel three dimensional.  It draws the viewer in and makes you stand out!  A good photographer is going to coach you through a variety of expressions and poses.  Go with it!  Work your angles!  Make love to the camera!  Allow yourself to be silly for at least one shot.  It doesn’t always work, but often that is when your true personality shines through!

Lastly, make plans for the evening of your shoot.  You will have professionally styled hair and makeup and you will feel like a rock star from all that time in front of the camera.  That kind of energy and ego boost is great for a nite on the town or a date with your favorite person.

And when all else fails, take a page from Tyra’s book and smize.

I’ll talk about how to best chose photos from your shoot in my next blog.  Be sure to check back!