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Modelling Tips for a Great Headshot

IMG_9389_1200x800A Headshot is the single most important photo for any models portfolio.  The headshot is often the first thing a potential client will see and is what encourages them to take a closer look at your portfolio, so getting your headshot right is critical.

This post provides some quick tips on how you can get  the most out of a headshot photo session.

  1. What is it for? – Make sure you know how you want to use the headshot – and tell the photographer.  What “look” are you after ?  What message do you want to send?  What type of modelling  work are you looking for ?
  2. What to Wear? – Even though your head/face  is the focal point of this photo, make sure you know what you will be wearing beforehand.  Your shoulders at least will probably be visible… so the top you are wearing is important – maybe even wear a strapless top so the focus can really just be your face.   Sunglasses are probably not a good idea, but what about reading glasses, a hat, jewellery ??  All can have a significant impact on the “look” that is created.
  3. Makeup  & Hairstyle?   – Usually I would recommend minimal makeup for a headshot – or even no makeup at all, but if you are after a dramatic look, you may consider using a lot of makeup for the right look.  Again,  with hair I would normally suggest keeping it simple and natural (usually you would want a headshot to represent the “real” you), but under some circumstances it might be relevant to go, wild with your hair
  4. Eat Something – Don’t come hungry or you may end up feeling more uncomfortable. I usually suggest eating something (light) right before heading to the session
  5. Be involved – Once you arrive, try to take in as much of the studio or location as you can. Study the layout and the equipment and talk to the photographer / makeup artist / stylist
  6. Communicate – let the photographer know if there is anything about your body that you feel uncomfortable with. Talk through the shots you are after, ask for advice and offer suggestions if you can.
  7. Chill Out – Try to think about something else. Don’t stress about trying to look good for the camera. Be natural, be yourself – the best shots often come once the model/actor is feeling at ease. the sooner you can achieve this the better
  8. Smile – a good photographer will try to get the best smiles out of you for your headshots.
  9. Don’t smile – Don’t just do all of your photos smiling, try some different expressions.
  10. Have fun! –  Stay relaxed and don’t think too much about it. The key is to show the casting director who is looking at your headshot that taking headshots is not the only thing you do. You are a three dimensional person who is completely comfortable with yourself in any situation, and can give them what they need in a performance.

Other Things to Do

  • Try to get full body shots as well if the photographer will allow it. Get the most bang for your buck.
  • Think about other things besides the photographer behind the camera.
  • Try to make the photographer laugh. Your energy will feed off of one another.
  • Bringing a friend can be helpful or a hindrance… do you want them seeing you getting pictures taken? Will it help you be more relaxed or make you more tense?
  • Get the photographer to show you some of the pictures as you go along, but be sure not to let those pictures influence you too much into trying to look a certain way or do something specific, because it may result in the image looking “forced” or fake.

Things NOT To Do

  • Don’t be fake. Be yourself. 🙂
  • Don’t try to act for the camera. The main problem is that many people try to look good in front of the camera by standing a certain way or giving a certain look. You have to let all that go. Remember, in the hundreds of pictures that are taken, you don’t want to look the same with that one look you try to give the camera. Let yourself go  you’ll find many images that look great when you review them later.
  • Try not to talk to the photographer too much… let him do the talking or else your mouth will be hanging open in half of  your pictures.