Preparing for your HEADSHOT SESSION
Makeup FOR HEADSHOTS
Some photographers make it mandatory to hire a professional makeup artist for your shoot. I don't require it but I strongly urge it. Over the years, I've learned how important professionally applied makeup is for the success of a woman's headshot (guys are lucky -- they don't usually need it). Whether it's an outdoor shoot with natural light or a studio session with strobe lighting, you need a stronger application of makeup than you normally wear. Most people don't know how to do this themselves. A skilled, trained makeup artist knows how to make it look natural on camera.
I hear repeatedly from women that they've had terrible experiences with makeup artists. Usually the complaint is that they were made up too strongly or they didn't look like themselves. This is a very real concern and one that I take seriously. It's very important that you feel good about how you look and also that you look like yourself in your headshot. But you also have to look your best and the way most women do their own makeup ends up looking washed out on camera.
I have tried dozens of makeup artists over the years and pride myself on my cadre of really talented artists, who do excellent work on all skin tones. They understand how headshot makeup should look and they also work with you in a collaborative way to ensure that you are comfortable with the look and feel it's true to your own style. We test how the makeup photographs and make adjustments while we're working so, if you don't like how it looks, we can fix it on the spot. This is really invaluable.
If it's absolutely not in your budget to work with one of my makeup artists, let's talk about some alternatives during your consultation.
Hair FOR HEADSHOTS
Your hair needs to look its absolute best or it will be distracting. If you have straight or wavy hair, I strongly encourage you to get a blowout at a salon before your shoot. If you're using my makeup artist, she will do light touch-up on your hair during the shoot but not full-on styling. Please bring your own hair product (smoothing serum, hairspray) and tools (curling or flat iron, blow dryer, brush, comb), in case we need to make any adjustments to hair during the shoot.
If you have curly hair, I've heard repeatedly that you should have both a straightened hair shot and a curly hair shot in your arsenal. Unfortunately, one hour is not enough time to get both looks. It's better to schedule two separate shoots. A "straight-hair shot" is considered more "universal" and will get you more auditions (awful, I know...) so, if you have to choose, prioritize the straight-hair shot. I hate that this is the case because curly/natural hair is beautiful but it's just the reality of the business.
Curly and natural hair, however, are a photographer's dream. They're easy! They don't need to be perfect, every hair in place. So, personally, I love it when you have curly or natural hair.
If you're using my makeup artist, you don't need to bring any makeup with you to the shoot. If you're doing your own makeup or getting it done elsewhere, be sure to bring the following items so we can touch up and make adjustments:
- Matte face powder (if you are very pale, a shade darker will help under the strong lights). This should be transparent or close to your skin tone, and it should be matte - NOT bronzer or shimmery powders.
- Undereye brightener. Can't emphasize this enough.
- Matte blush in a rose or natural pink. People tend to look washed out on camera and need some extra color. Again, shimmery blush is a no no in this context - it will make you look oily.
- Eye pencil or shadow in dark brown.
- Mascara (lashes, lashes, lashes!) It makes a huge difference in opening up and defining the eyes. If you really want to get the most out of your headshots, get individual lashes applied to the outside corners of your eyes before your shoot.
- Lipstick or gloss in a sheer pink or nude. Don't go with a dark lip color in your headshot. It tends to look severe and can age you.
- Smoothing serum, hair spray, or styling gel for your hair.
- Blow dryer, flat iron, curler, brush, comb, or any other tool to touch up hair.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR Men
Your needs are a lot simpler. Bring some Chapstick or lip balm to keep your lips from appearing dry, and any product you may need to touch up your hair (comb, gel). If you need a little concealer or powder, I have some basic makeup that I can apply for free.
You may want to consider coming to your headshot shoot unshaven for the first half of the session and then shaving halfway through for some clean shaven shots. The clean shaven shots are going to be more "universal" and will get you more auditions, but it's nice to have some shots with stubble or a beard too, if those are looks that you rock. Make sure it will only take a few minutes to shave though so it doesn't cut into your shoot too much.
clothing for headshots
Clothing preparation is one of the most important (if not the most important) parts of making your headshot session a success. Really spend time considering what to bring, cleaning and ironing your tops, and even buying a few new things (you can leave the tags on and return them after!)
Bring lots of choices of things to wear, so we can play around and see what works best on camera. It's much better to bring too much than too little. We never know until we try it, and I’m often surprised by what works best for different people. Bring at least five different tops for a one-hour shoot. I don't limit the number of wardrobe changes because if something isn't working, we need to try something else and it's just so important to get it right. It can make or break your headshot.
The color and fit of your shirt are really important. Make sure the clothing fits well in the shoulders and flatters your shape. The color has to work not only with your own coloring but with the background. And the entire look has to support your casting.
Some rules of thumb:
- Stick to solid colors. Patterns, stripes, polka dots, and text are distracting.
- Bring shirts in a variety of colors. We can talk about what colors might work best for you. Jewel tones tend to work really well with my grey and white backgrounds. Navy blue, burgundy, dark green, olive green, wine tones: all good choices. Dark colors tend to photograph better. You can bring black and neutrals (grey, beige) but they might be boring.
- Avoid colors that might be overwhelming. Colors that are too vibrant can overpower you in the headshot. Red tends to be one of those colors.
- Dark colors tend to work best for legit headshots and brighter, more cheerful colors work better for commercial headshots. A denim shirt, button down shirt, or polo shirt is good for commercial.
- Bring shirts with a variety of necklines. Different necklines frame your face differently and it can really make a difference.
- Avoid shiny fabrics and heavy knits. Cottons, thin knits work best.
- Bring shirts with different sleeve lengths. Long sleeves, short sleeves, sleeveless.
- Bring some jackets -- jean, leather, army.
- Make sure your clothes are free of stains and wrinkles. Take the time to iron your clothes, if needed, and pack them neatly so they don't wrinkle en route to your shoot.
- Ladies, be sure to bring bras that won't show underneath. A nude colored bra will work with any shirt color. Choose bras that appear smooth underneath your top.
- Make sure to wear pants with pockets so you have somewhere to put your hands when standing. It really makes a difference in the shoulders when posing. It affects the whole picture. When you're comfortable and have somewhere to put your hands, you look more relaxed and natural.
- Above all, bring clothes you feel good in.
If you’re not sure what to wear in your headshot, look at what other people are wearing in their shots. Look on my website and elsewhere for inspiration.
ACCESSORIES - YES OR NO?
For actor headshots, the rule of thumb is no jewelry. But feel free to bring a pair of glasses for a different look, especially for commercial headshots. Some actors even like to show themselves as the types of characters they tend to play, i.e. policemen, nurses. Feel free to bring costumes!
For corporate and business headshots, the opposite is true! Nothing does the trick like a chunky necklace to complete the picture! If you're in finance, a string of pearls is even better. By all means bring a variety of scarves, necklaces, and earrings.