5 Model Headshot Tips

Article Image
Photo Source: Shutterstock

A professional headshot is arguably the most important photo a model needs for castings and jobs. It’s also the main shot in modeling digitals an aspiring model needs to submit to agencies. And, like acting headshots for casting directors, a model headshot is usually the first photo to be considered by a creative director. So having good headshots in a modeling portfolio is important to showcase your modeling capabilities. Here are five tips for taking the best model headshot.

1. Define Your Core Modeling Types

As an aspiring model, you might be trying to figure out what type of model shoots you are going to be best for. Or perhaps you already have it nailed down. For example, do you have a unique physical facial feature or hair type? You might have freckles galore or especially clear and even-toned skin. Maybe you have a very chiseled jawline. Perhaps your hair is especially curly or uniquely flat. Maybe you’re perfectly fit as the common guy or girl next door. There are model needs for many types. You’ll want to figure out such specializations and focus on them in your professional headshots. Capturing these unique features in headshots will help a creative director connect you with looks they are after.

2. Consider Your Facial Expressions and Emotions

Like in acting, different modeling campaigns for advertisements can also call for different character types. So in your headshots, you should vary your facial expressions to have options. Make sure they match specific looks a creative director might be after. For example, let’s say you’re a former athlete and are looking to land athletic-styled modeling opportunities. You probably don’t want to cake on the makeup for that headshot look.

Most importantly, your facial expressions should connect with the viewer. You don’t want to come across as if you’re staring into a void. While your headshots should reflect your personality, a balanced one will also represent the vibe you’re trying to represent. So, ask yourself what vibe would the headshot of a good athlete feel like? If you’re more about innocent beauty, then practice what that looks like so you can capture it in a headshot. If you’re not clear about what these looks appear like, search for examples online. Don’t be afraid to practice them in a mirror. Get a second and third opinion on whether you’re being accurate in your representation of them. 

3. Keep Makeup Basic and Then Go All Out

You’re likely going to want to have a headshot with practically no makeup on. It’s essential as sometimes this is a basic shot that’s asked for, particularly by modeling agencies. Be sure to have some headshots that show your natural look. This can often include profile-sided headshots, not just shots straight on. But once you have these basic shots, consider going all out too. If you’re wanting to be considered for beauty shoots for makeup ads, then put that out there. Get a beauty shot made where your makeup is completely done. Get the photo properly retouched too. This way you create a shot just as it might be done in a real ad campaign. Give them the natural looks they need to consider you but also have ready the shots mimicking the modeling jobs you’re after.

4. Factor in Your Wardrobe

It can be easy to not consider the top you’ll wear for headshots, but it too is an important element. For example, if you’re going for a beauty look, you might consider baring your shoulders. In most cases, less will be more. So, wearing a turtleneck sweater is more likely to beg the question “what are you hiding on your neck” than anything else. Keep things simple, like avoiding logos and busy patterns, but also consider vibrant colors over dull ones. A vibrant colored shirt to accent a certain eye color will be more pleasing than a plain white or black shirt. The same goes for color-coordinating with your hair and skin color. You might also color-coordinate with the background.

5. Go for Quality Over Quantity

Modeling portfolios often showcase many more shots in them than actor profiles do. This is because of a perception in modeling that versatility is important. In acting it’s often thought too many shots can cause confusion on the character types an actor might be ideal for. Despite this difference, it’s more important to start with quality over quantity. Get professional shots made by a photographer that uses commercial-grade equipment. In addition, inquire if they use or have a studio or just use natural light outside. This will have an impact on the types of shots the photographer can capture. Generally, the more professional your shots are, the more seriously you’ll be taken. This is particularly true since major commercial modeling campaigns are also shot using high-end camera gear and lighting. In other words, capture headshots that showcase how a real modeling campaign would be shot. The closer you look the part, the more likely you’ll get the job.

Check out Backstage’s modeling listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Rafael Larin
Rafael Larin is an award-winning headshot photographer in the Los Angeles area. He operates the Headshots by The Light Committee studio where he regularly works with actors and others to create professional headshots. Studio services for acting include commercial look and theatrical look headshots, and slate video services. He also provides modeling digitals and headshots, corporate headshots, and other photography services.
See full bio and articles here!

More From Backstage Experts


More From Modeling

Now Trending