9 Tips from an Actress to Prepare for Headshot Shoots

Heashots PreparationHeadshots used to be a promotional  tool for actors and models. With the advent of the Internet and social media, headshots became important for all business professionals. They represent you and become a key part of your personal and corporate brand across social media platforms.

With yet another reminder from my agent that I was long overdue for new headshots, last week, I finally went back to the studio for my 8th headshot shoot. (You see, in addition to my business career, I am an actress.) Based on this experience, here are some tips for preparing for headshot shoots.

Preparation is Key

  1. Invest in professionals.
    Headshot photography and on-camera make-up are specialties. This is not the time for cell phone camera shots or getting your sister to take digital photos.

    I remember going for a shoot and ending up with photos that were unusable as the make-up was not done properly. Professional headshots are not inexpensive so do it right.
  2. Study photographers' on-line portfolios.

    • Are the photos sharp, focused and well lit?
    • Are hair strands clear or is hair a blurry blob?
    • Did the photographer zoom in so tight that every line on the face is visible?
      This may be fine for twenty somethings but past that and you won't like the results.
    • Did the photographer uses distracting backgrounds?
      The focus should be on your face, not artistic background elements.
  3. For a business headshot, above all, keep it professional.
    This starts with selecting a professional photographer who specializes in headshots. He or she will have a range of lighting options, a variety of backdrops, a changing room and an iron or steamer.
  4. Pay attention to grooming.
    Men, avoid a scruffy look. Get a professional haircut, shave and, if you have facial hair, trim.

    Ladies, remember the camera picks up everything. Get a good facial waxing a couple of days before your shoot to allow enough time for the redness to subside but not enough time for re-growth. Have your hair trimmed and styled. Get a make-up artist to do your make-up.(Professional actresses have a hair stylist and make-up artist present during headshot shoots.)

    Bring a large scarf to put over your shoulders when make-up is being applied and hair is touched up. Flip it over and cover your head and face when changing to avoid messing up your hair or getting make-up on clothing.
  5. Select appropriate business attire.
    It is surprising when professional women post LinkedIn photos with revealing attire or showing cleavage. Photos are part of your brand. If you want to be taken seriously, save the cheesecake for event catering.
  6. Wear clothing that is simple and not distracting.
    Avoid checks, floral prints, stripes that are too busy and distracting jewelry. Men can bring 2 suits and 2 or 3 different shirts. Ladies, bring a dress with a jacket and a couple of suits with a few blouses.
  7. Shoes are important.
    Even though they aren't visible in photos, we stand and move differently when wearing sneakers, pumps or boots. Bring pumps and boots.
  8. Nutrition counts.
    Tim Leyes, a Toronto headshot photographer, stresses the importance of a good breakfast and bringing a light snack to keep energy high during your shoot. It does make a difference.
  9. Arrive early.
    Take time to organize your clothing, make a final selection with the photographer and relax.

Next week, we'll talk about what happens during a shoot and how to be sure you get a great headshot.

For more photo tips, also read  A New Twist on Headshots at Conferences. 

Photo Credits: Lars Ploghmann

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