Having recently enjoyed tripping down memory lane with the #firstheadhot hashtag plastered all over social media, it feels like the perfect time for a reminder about what actors should and shouldn’t do when it comes to a headshot session. It’s an important career investment, so it’s well worth making sure you’re fully prepared and that you capitalize on the opportunity presented.
Before you book a session, remember...
Mates with a camera aren’t enough.
Don’t book in with your best mate who recently decided they want to be a photographer. It’s all well and good for them to get practice, but it’s highly unlikely those shots will be the level you need for your professional CV. By all means, still go ahead and have the session as you’ ll get valuable experience learning your best side, what colors work on you, and how to stand to get different results. Just don’t hedge your bets that your next headshot will be in the final edits.
Do your research.
Before you book, do your homework. If you really want new shots for your professional acting CV, research photographers and look at their work. (Headshot Hunter is a great, free U.K. site for this.) Once you’ve narrowed it down to your top four, look at their style, see how they photograph women vs. men, younger clients vs. older. Do you like the lighting and backdrops? Do you recognize anyone? What’s their availability like?
Now you’re booked but are you ready? After you’ve booked your session, remember…
If the shirt fits...
Have a look through your wardrobe and make sure you have a minimum of five differently-colored or dresses with different necklines and without any logos. Photographers need you in your best colors so they can make you look as brilliant as possible. Don’t leave it until the day of the shoot before you realize your go-to shirts are dirty, ripped, or stained.
Like with any costume, preparing your hair and face is just as important. If you can, it’s a great idea not to drink any alcohol for at least a week before and to keep really hydrated with lots of water. Alcohol can make you look tired and grey under the eyes, while water plumps up the skin and helps you look fresh and as youthful as possible. The same can be said about sleep. Make sure that for a few nights preceding your shoot, you get as much sleep as possible. The camera will thank you for it.
Unfortunately, sun, reflectors, the outdoors, and nerves can all affect your skin when you’re shooting, so loose translucent powder is an absolute must. Buy an inexpensive translucent powder and a cheap brush if it’s doesn’t come with one, and have it handy at the shoot to apply anytime you’re starting to look dewy or sweaty. It will help make your headshots look cleaner and will make for a lot less unnecessary touching up later.
Be even earlier than your early.
The last thing you want to do is miss out on precious time in your shoot. Photographers sometimes have more than one client in a day so if you’re late, it means you get less time with them. Also, respect them. They have to traipse around with camera equipment and lenses and light reflectors if you’re working outdoors, so it’s not nice for them to be left standing around with their expensive equipment. And the last thing you want to say to your photographer-to-be is, “I don’t value your time enough to turn up on time.” That doesn’t send a great message before you start your shoot.
This is probably the most important of all the headshot session rules. If you know that you wake up grumpy and won’t be on your best form, book an afternoon session. If you know you’ll be rushed if you’re coming from work, book an earlier session. If you need to get your hair styled so it sits perfectly for the shoot, book that in with an hour on either side in case there are any mishaps or your hairdresser is late. You know yourself better than anyone, so prepare as if it’s the most important audition you’ve ever been to.
The best part about a headshot session is the fun of it. When you have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously, it will show through in your photos that you’re having a lovely time and really enjoying the process. Clenched jaws, faraway eyes, and tight lips really aren’t becoming in a headshot, so you want to be as relaxed as possible. And sometimes the best shots come straight after you’ve had a little giggle with the photographer!
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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.