6 Tips for Successful Actor’s Headshot Session

Ok, so you’ve chosen your ideal headshot photographer. You chose wisely, taking the time to do your research until you found someone you think will be the perfect fit. Your photoshoot is now scheduled in the diary. Don’t take your foot off the pedal! Preparing for your photoshoot is as essential as finding the right photographer.

Based on my 10 years of experience, both attending headshot photoshoots with my actress daughter and shooting entertainment professionals myself, I’ve put together the following 6 top tips for preparing for your photo shoot. Follow this guide and you’ll maximize your chances of having a productive and successful shoot on the day, and in turn, getting auditions.

6 tips for a fantastic photoshoot

First and foremost: know your type. If you aren’t sure what the type is, read my FINDING YOUR TYPE AS AN ACTOR article here. Your headshots need to be a spot-on reflection of your type, or you will be risking misrepresenting yourself in your submissions.

Once you have a clear understanding of your type, start thinking about the looks you want to create in your headshot session. Remember, your looks should not contradict your type but show your ability to play different characters within the type. Watch episodes of recent shows that cast actors with an appearance very similar to yours. Make sure you sample a variety of different genres, from sci-fi to family dramas, etc. Pay close attention to the roles your type is playing in the show, and the wardrobe choices they wear. Take notes, and after you’re done watching, create a detailed list of outfits you saw your characters wear.

Start by examining ALL clothing options you already own and set aside everything that is on your list of character outfits. For the missing piece, you can ask to ‘shop’ from your friend’s closets and borrow a few pieces as long as they fit you well. Your parents’ and siblings’ closets are not entirely off-limits, too, if need be!

If you are looking for a particular piece that is intended to complete your character’s look, ask around and see who owns one in your size and is willing to let you use it for the shoot. Finally, do visit a couple of stores where you are likely to find the type of clothing you are after for your shoot and select a few pieces that you yourself do not own. You can decide after your headshot session whether you prefer to keep your finds or return them.

Try your finds on in front of the mirror. Make sure they fit you well and are comfortable. Practice owning the clothes. Think about the character that is likely to wear each outfit. You can practice the facial expressions and body language of your characters. Once you feel comfortable with your choices, go ahead, take selfies! It will help you to see how you come across on camera as your character.

In the week prior to your photoshoot, take extra good care of yourself. Since you are about to make a serious investment in your headshots, it’s only logical to invest in yourself first. Remember to stay well hydrated, and eat healthily, so you don’t have to deal with bloating and water retention just before your shoot. Avoid direct exposure to the sun, so there will be no skin redness or irritation. Skip late-night outings in favor of looking fresh and well-rested on the day of your photoshoot. Show your lips some love, too. Regularly use chapstick or lip balm to improve the appearance of dry and cracked lips. You will be oh so glad you did that.

If you plan to cut your hair or color it prior to the shoot, get it done a week or two before your headshot session. Freshly cut or colored hair may look a bit unnatural on camera. Besides, chances are, you won’t be coming to your auditions straight from the hair salon. When choosing your looks, pick hairstyles that can be easily recreated for your auditions. Take that into consideration, as you’ll want to look like your new headshot when you walk into the audition room.

For male clients, we can plan in advance that you come in with stubble or a beard for your first looks and then shave it off midway through the shoot for additional options.

Some of the images may show you smiling, so remember to take care of your teeth! Stained or yellow teeth can make you self-conscious in front of the camera – something we want to avoid at all costs. For that purpose, you might decide on an in-office zoom whitening procedure or a good quality at-home whitening treatment. Either option will help brighten your smile and restore your self-confidence. On the day of your shoot, try to avoid any food and drinks that will stain your teeth, or, at the very least, use a straw!

Make sure your nails are accurately trimmed and cleaned. Use a clear coat or a neutral color polish for a groomed look.

Make sure your wardrobe is washed and freshly ironed or steamed as you prepare for the photoshoot. There is very little that is more annoying or distracting in your headshot than wrinkled or stained clothing! Try to bring everything on hangers, if possible. If that is not an option, use a carry-on and fold them neatly so they are not tangled or badly wrinkled as you arrive for your session.

NOTE: It is always a good idea to wear a skin color tank top or undershirt so that changing between the looks is a breeze no matter the location or circumstances.

Double-check to make sure you have all the details of your session: location, time, parking instructions, AND your photographer’s best contact number so you can reach them on the day of your shoot if needed.

So here are my top tips for ensuring your photoshoot is a success on the day. If you want my expertise so that you can present yourself in the best and truest light to casting directors or agents, let’s get to work! Click the button below, fill out the contact form, and we will be in touch to schedule your complimentary phone consultation!


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