Guide to Headshots

Read below or watch a quick video of around five minutes for tips. You can also read actor-specific tips, corporate-specific, tips and model-specific tips.

  1. Be sure your headshots are being done with a commercial-grade camera, not a smartphone or other point-and-shoot camera
  2. Be sure you’re working with a photographer that is well versed in using a commercial-grade camera
  3. Whether you opt for studio lighting or natural lighting, be sure you work with a photographer with a proven portfolio for both
    1. Be aware of trends in your industry – is there a tendency to use studio, natural light, or both
    2. Generally speaking, business executives will usually want to opt for studio lighting
    3. Generally speaking, actors and models will need primarily studio lighting and natural lighting shots as additional options for their portfolio
  4. Consider lifestyle headshots as an alternative to add, based on norms in your industry – or to stand out in your industry. Models can benefit from lifestyle shots
    1. For example, real estate agents photographed in a home setting or a model in a lifestyle setting
  5. Your headshot is being used to sell you. So, be sure it represents you. In other words, don’t attempt to come across as someone you’re not or cannot pull off in person
  6. Thus, light makeup and/or touch-ups are a good idea for actors and models. Even lighter makeup and touch-ups for business executives
  7. If you’re getting a haircut before, try to do it at least a week 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
  8. Get a good night’s sleep the night before so you look fresh all day the day of your headshots
  9. Drink lots of water too, the day before and day of, so your skin looks naturally hydrated

Tips for During Your Headshots Session

  1. Look into the camera – it helps create a welcoming perception, demonstrates confidence, and builds trust
  2. 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
  3. Unless you have specific branding requirements – such as to fit a website’s specifications – stick with tried-and-true 8×10″ portrait-mode photos
  4. Avoid wearing plaids, stripes, and generally busy clothing. Simple, natural and solid colors are best as are vibrant colors
    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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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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