5 TIPS TO HAVING A GOOD HEADSHOT
Are you ready to shoot your actor headshots? If you've already picked a headshot photographer and have your wardrobe, hair and makeup all figured out, here are five tips to help you get the most out of your headshot photo session.
Shoot one universal headshot. When you have your actor headshots taken, choosing a few different "looks" that suggest character types (white collar, girl next door, etc.) is a good thing. But you won't be able to have a look that's perfect for every role that you want to audition for, so you should also have what I call a "universal headshot" - a straight on, no nonsense, what you see is what you get headshot that tells exactly who you are. It shouldn't be a dramatic or smiling shot. If you get a good "universal headshot", you will find yourself using it more and more and it will establish your face in the casting director's mind (who keeps seeing one same photo over and over). That type of headshot will get you work because it's full of possibilities. How do you get the right look? It's all in the eyes, which takes us to this next headshot tip...
Tell a story. Often, actors preparing for a headshot photography shoot will spend a lot of time thinking about their wardrobe and make-up but will neglect the most important thing - their acting. Unfortunately, being relaxed and open in front of a camera doesn't come naturally, even to actors. Good headshot photographers help the process, but you'll get much better headshots if you're prepared to "tell a story" with your eyes. The night before the shoot, think of what you want to get across in your actor headshots, then write down a one-liner for every different intention. Keep it simple. Just think of how you would convey who you are or what you want in the least amount of words possible (for example, "I really want to get to know you") and then tell that sentence with your eyes.
Do a headshot mix. Line up some songs on your iPod the night before your headshot session. Pick different music for different looks you have planned. Don't worry about picking out cool songs. You're not getting modeling pictures. Pick music that you respond to. Close your eyes and notice how each song makes you feel, then decide if this is the right "mood" for the headshots you want. If it is, include it in your mix and loop it if you need to. Most headshot photographers are happy to work with actors' music at the photo shoot since it helps them relax and get in character for their different "looks".
Stay away from coffee and cigarettes. I got this tip from a headshot photographer: to avoid bags under the eyes, stop drinking coffee two weeks before the photo shoot. If you're a heavy coffee drinker, you may get headaches when you hold off on the java, but it will help you have a nice skin tone and overall fresh look you won't have to Photoshop for hours. Another thing that improves complexion is to stop smoking of course.
Skip the retouching. A lot of actor pictures look "retouched" to the trained eye of a casting director or agent. If you need to brush off a little speck on your shirt, that's fine, of course, but avoid going through your headshot session thinking, "I can retouch that later". Your goal should be to get the perfect shot you don't need to do anything to. One way to do that is to take regular breaks during your photo session to review your headshots. Most headshot photographers have digital cameras, so reviewing your pictures as you go is easy. Some photographers can even show you a large image of your headshots on a TV screen hooked to their camera. Make sure you love the shots before you go on. Check your general look and posture, but also watch out for little details like flyaway hairs or shiny skin.
Hope these headshot tips help you have a successful photo shoot.
By Alex Swenson
You may also want to read: