Top Ten Tips for Actors Headshots

09th November 2010
In: 2010
Top ten tips for Actors Headshots

As an actor myself I know that having actors headshots done can be nerve wracking, especially since it’s ‘you’ in front of the camera rather than ‘you’ hiding behind a character. So here are my top ten tips on how to get the best out of your actors headshot session, from both an actor’s and a photographer’s perspective…

Phone a friend
It’s always best to find a photographer who’s been recommended to you by a friend or colleague. You’ll have a better idea of what to expect from the session, from the photographer’s style of shooting to the look of the shots that you’ll get at the end.

An actor prepares…
Before the shoot have a think about the different looks you’d like to get out of it. Write a list and bring it with you to the shoot for reference if needs be. If you find that you normally get put up for the same kinds of roles time and time again, try and get contrasting looks from the shoot; so if you’re normally put up for the sweet-girl-next-door role aim to get some shots that portray you as the rough-girl-from-the-other-side-of-town as well.

Have an early night
Seriously, don’t go out clubbing the night before your shoot. Converting a photo to black and white can work wonders (the greyness of your skin won’t be so noticeable), but working on the bags can take ages in Photoshop…

Bring your wardrobe
Not all of it, but bring a good selection of tops with you to get a variety of different looks - different necklines and colours/tones.

All made up
Girls – bring your make up bag with you. Some people’s skin can get shiny under studio lights, so having powder handy can be a great help. It’s best not to wear too much make up for actors headshots sessions, but (providing your photographer is happy to do so) adding heavier make up later on in the shoot can give you a completely different look. Also, bring hair clips etc for the photos with your hair up.

Boys – bring your make up bag with you if you’ve got one. If you haven’t then check with your photographer if they keep powder in the studio. I always keep some handy for my shoots, and take great pride in applying powder to actors. Men can multi-task. Also, check first with your photographer that this is ok, but what’s worked well with some actors who have come to me for their headshots is arriving with a beard, then gradually throughout the shoot you shave it down to stubble, then finish clean shaven. The difference when going through the shots is astounding!

Hire a pro
If you don’t fancy sorting out your own make up then it’s a really good idea to use the services of a professional make up artist during the session. As a photographer I can honestly say that having a make up artist on hand is extremely helpful. Photographers offer this service at extra cost; check with your photographer if they have a specific artist that they use, or if you are able to hire one independently. What you tend to find with photographers who offer the services of a make up artist is that both of them work well together, and that the make up artist is discreet when going in to touch up your hair an make up. Just something to bear in mind.

Put your hand up
Feel free to ask questions during the shoot. Most photographers (myself included) are geeks when it comes to photography, and welcome any chance to talk about it.

Pull your socks up
Be prepared to work during the shoot. Though it’s the photographer’s responsibility to get the best out of you, you should be proactive and ready to work with them to get the shots that are needed.

I am beautiful
You probably are, and you’ll probably look it in many of your shots. However, you have to accept that you won’t look as beautiful in some of them. Remember that girl-from-the-other-side-of-town look…? Try and be objective when looking at your photos, and remember that they need to be accurate representations of yourself.

Show your face
Once you get the proofs from the shoot from your photographer (whether it’s an online gallery or paper contact sheets), show them to friends, colleagues, your agent etc. It’s often difficult to be subjective when looking at photos of yourself. Loads of photos of yourself. So having other pairs of eyes are a big help. I always suggest to my clients that they give the password to their online portfolio to others, and come back to me if they’d like my advice on which shots I think work best.


And that’s it. A bit long-winded but I hope it’s been informative!
Geraint

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