Chris Lonsberry Media
People often ask me how to prepare for a headshot session.. what to wear, etc. So I've started compiling a list to answer questions and things that come up. I'm sure this is incomplete and it'll continue to grow but, as of today, this covers all of it. These are the tips.
Unless the shoot calls for it, my headshots aren't meant to be beauty or fashion shots, per se. I've had a client look at her headshots and say, "If someone asked who I was, that one is it!". That's the best compliment I can get. And that's exactly what I want to get. I want to see you relaxed, happy, strong, confident, striking a pose (from the shoulders up, of course), giving a look, sexy, silly, and completely you. That's the look we're going for and I'll do what I can to help you show it... so relax. It's gonna be great. The beauty will happen on its own.
Skin prep: Headshots are close and my lens grabs every detail. It's a great idea to make sure you wash your face well before you come in. You might also add a little moisturizer if your face tends to dry out.
For women, I would recommend moderate makeup. Enough to add a little color and look nice... but not fashion magazine levels. Some is good. A lot is too much.
I would shy away from any jewelry that's going to draw attention from you. Smaller earrings/piercings that are part of your personality are fine if you want them. But the main thing is not to draw attention from you.
As far as clothing.. the shots are pretty close up on your face so don't worry what pants or shoes you're wearing. 'Comfortable' is a good thing. I'd stay away from t-shirts and spaghetti straps. Avoid tops with poofy shoulders. Since all you'll see is your shoulders and up, those tops don't translate well. Polo shirts are okay if they're in good shape. With age, they tend to discolor a bit around the edges of the collar. And the collars tend to do weird things. Wear it if you love it. Bring alternatives.
The colors are up to you. The background is usually some shade of white/grey to almost black so you won't clash.
But something that's too busy might run the risk of it being a distraction.
My best suggestion is to wear something that looks good and makes you feel great. We want that confidence to show in your face.
BRING a couple of options! We may end up shooting all of them.. or just one. But it's good to have options! It happens all the time that we'll shoot one thing and the client will change and it cranks the pictures up two notches. Options are good. Too many is always better than not enough.
If you have a specific purpose for your headshots in mind, be sure we discuss them. For example, if you're planning to put your headshot on your website, which may have a white background (or a black background), be sure to let me know so we can adjust your shoot accordingly. Does your website/brand have a particular color scheme?
Business headshots.. whether they're for your website, business cards or social media.. are all about branding and what you want to convey as a professional. Many of the more general headshot tips apply.
Along with the idea of color schemes listed under the general tips, some consideration should be given to what you want to project and what clothing you choose. Do you want to project power and authority? Something more formal, such as a suit, would be in order. Do you want to appear friendlier and more approachable? A button-up shirt or a good polo shirt may be more appropriate. (See my comments above on polo shirts. If you choose to go with one, make sure it's in good shape.). Women.. you get the idea.
Actor headshots are a pretty unique beast and I'll likely devote a whole page to them. This not an exhaustive list yet. But, in the meantime, here are a few things...
Before your shoot, you should know your types because we want to reflect those in your photos.
They want to see you! - Headshots vary from other portraits in that a headshot shouldn't have a lot of dramatic lighting and shadow. Casting people want to see you. That's the point. So acting headshots are almost always well lit.
Your headshots should look like you! - Agencies and Casting directors expect you to look just like your headshot and don't want to be surprised when they see you in person. So your headshot should have little or no editing done to it. Of course, we can remove temporary blemishes or that stray hair, but they want to see the person in the photo walk through the door.
Your headshots should be you! - This may go back to knowing your type but I'll put it here for completeness. Your headshots should reflect your personality. You may get an audition because your headshot makes you look sultry and sexy. But it's likely because they're looking for someone sultry and sexy. If you walk in and your natural demeanor is high-energy San Fernando Valley girl, it's not likely you'll get the callback. Keep it real.
Clothing - Keep it simple. Avoid logos, busy patterns, and graphics. Simple colors that work with your eye color and or complexion tend to work well. Consider your character type when picking your clothing. Don’t wear a slinky dress if you want to play the soccer mom. Bring multiple options to your shoot so we can pick the clothes that make you look right for the part. I'm happy to go through your wardrobe choices with you before the shoot. For actors, depending on the type we're going for, a t-shirt may be appropriate.
Jewelry - Don't. You don't want anything that's going to distract a casting person from seeing YOU! They may only take a second to look at your photo. Make sure their attention isn't drawn by some item of jewelry. (The same goes for having your hands in the headshot. It should never be a thing.)
Eyes - They say the eyes are the window to the soul. You don't want your soul to be bloodshot and glazed over. Before your shoot, get a good night's rest. That'll give us a great canvas to work with during your shoot so you can smile with them, show depth through them or tell any other story you'd like. They are very much an actor's toolkit. Let's show them off in your headshots!
A Little Research - Various talent agencies want different things in their headshots. Some are fine with the top of your head being out of the picture, some are not. Some want grey backgrounds, some do not. If you're getting headshots for a particular agency, it's a great idea to know what they're looking for. If you don't know, I'd be more than happy to help you find out.
Makeup - Refer back to how casting people want to see the same person in the photo walk through the door. If/when you do your makeup, I generally tell people to go easy on it. The heavier the makeup, the more likely it is to cake and crack and, because I do VERY little retouching for actor headshots, it'll be caked and cracked in the photo. I can arrange for a makeup artist for you (at an additional cost) if you'd like. But for acting headshots, you'll want to look like that when you go in for auditions. It's generally better to do light makeup yourself that you can easily recreate.