TAKING YOUR BEST HEADSHOT

 

I have been a professional photographer for almost 20 years. I attended Otis Parsons Art Institute studying fine art photography. Upon graduation, I started shooting editorially for several different publications including Entertainment Weekly, People, Venice, and Latin Style, to name a few. I never considered shooting headshots until I was asked by niece’s agent to shoot some of her. She loved them and started sending me clients immediately. At the time, all headshots were shot in black and white and in the studio. Now headshots are taken in color and generally outdoors in natural light. 

I feel taking your best headshot is a collaborative effort. The actor must come prepared. However, it is the photographer’s responsibility to make the actor feel at ease and direct him through the shoot. Pointing and shooting several digital images…click, click, click is not the art of capturing the essence of your subject. When I was in school, we were graded on our proof sheets. Every frame had to count!
Your best headshot should not take hundreds of images. It should be achieved in much fewer frames depending on how many looks you are shooting. 

Here are the steps needed to take your best headshot: 

KNOW YOUR TYPE 

If you have an agent or manager, ask them what “type” you are and for wardrobe suggestions. If you are an actor that is already auditioning and working, you should have an “audition” wardrobe ready to go. If you are just beginning your acting career and are seeking representation, ask your acting coach and friends how they see you. Also, when you are watching television, start paying close attention to the commercials. Notice which you could have been featured in and what the actor was wearing. If you are clear as to what “type” you are and bring the appropriate wardrobe to your shoot, you will surely be one step closer to taking your best headshot. 

PREPARATION 

It is important get a good night’s sleep the night before your shoot. I know this sounds like common sense, but I cannot tell you how many actors show up for their headshot shoot looking tired from having worked late or performing in a show the night before. Also, schedule your headshot shoot at the time of day that is your peak time. If you are a morning person, then book your session then. If you are more of a night person, the late afternoon is best. I prefer to photograph young children early in the morning. Teenagers have more energy in the late afternoon. 

Also, have all of your wardrobe on hangers and organized with the appropriate accessories. Have a snack beforehand but eat light to keep your energy up and stay hydrated throughout your headshot photo session by drinking plenty of water. Another common sense tip I know, but again, I have had clients show up without eating first. I always provide snacks and water. I want you to take your best headshot! 

THE COLLABORATION 

In order to achieve your best headshot, it is very important that you understand that your photo shoot is a collaborative effort between you and the photographer. This is your time and you should not feel rushed. I have never been a “headshot factory”. I take my time with each client. Actors need direction. When in character, I take the actor through a scene. With young children, I will ask them about what they like to do, who their best friend is, what is their favorite television show, etc. It is very important to feel comfortable with your photographer to get your best headshot!