Guide to Headshots

Here are more detailed actor-specific tips, businessperson-specific, tips and model-specific tips.

Quick Tips to Vet Your Photographer

  1. Have you read real reviews about them on Google?
  2. Look at their gallery or portfolio of sample photos on a large desktop or laptop screen, not a smartphone
  3. Be sure your headshots are being done with a commercial-grade camera, not a smartphone or other point-and-shoot camera
    1. This is a full-frame sensor mirrorless or DSLR camera – or for extreme high-end, with medium format cameras
  4. Be sure you’re working with a photographer that is well versed in using a commercial-grade studio lighting and natural light
  5. Be sure your photographer provides retouching services, even if just very light and basic
  6. Ask your photographer about their studio location – to find out if it is a commercial building, home studio, etc.

Tips for a Good Headshots Session

  1. Makeup and hair styling is usually preferred – do it as much as you would for an important meeting (casting call, important customer, etc.)
  2. If you’re getting a haircut before, try to do it at least a 3-4 days prior so your hair has time to grow back a bit to your more natural look – also, just in case you get a bad haircut, there is recovery time
  3. Get a good night’s sleep the night before so you look fresh all day the day of your headshots
  4. Drink lots of water too, the 2-3 days before and day of, so your skin looks naturally hydrated
  5. Look into the camera – it helps create a welcoming perception, demonstrates confidence, and builds trust
  6. Actors, business and model headshots should all include a shot with a natural smile. If you’re not a natural smile-person, your photographer can help
  7. Unless you have specific branding requirements – such as to fit a website’s specifications – stick with tried-and-true 8×10″ portrait-mode photos
  8. Avoid wearing busy plaids, busy stripes, and generally busy clothing. Simple, natural and solid and vibrant colors are best
    1. The focus should be on you so, don’t wear anything that would be a barrier to that focus. This includes too much jewelry, logos, graphic t-shirts, etc.
  9. For corporate headshots, you can opt to dress in a business suit or, if that’s not normally worn on a workday, dress how you would on a routine day. It is up to the business to decide how to brand this. However, for groups of headshots, consistency is important to consider. For example, either everyone wears suits or not
    1. Another popular thought on this is to dress how you would when you’re meeting a new client
    2. And yet another popular approach is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have
  10. If dressed in a suit, bring a second business coat to quickly change looks and have options
    1. Consider a second tie, scarf, etc. too
  11. Beware of your posture, including making sure you come across relaxed. It’s best to sit or stand tall, with shoulders up and back. But, try to come across as relaxed as you might be at home with friends. This can be tough for some but, a good photographer will provide some guidance during the session
  12. Don’t discount making subtle adjustments – they are all the difference. This includes less of a smile, more of smile, a tiny head tilt or tiny chin drop, and so on. Again, you’re photographer should help guide this
  13. If you have any concerns during the shoot, be open and talk to your photographer about it – they are there to help get the best headshots possible
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