With the new year just a few days away we are all getting ready for a fresh start. One thing some of you might be considering is new headshots for 2017. With the boom in the film industry Vancouver has been experiencing of late it’s probably a good idea. So, I decided to put together some tips for getting your photo taken and give a little tour of what a shoot session with me is like.
Theatre, film and TV. What kind of roles do you want?
The first thing I ask all my clients is why they need the headshot. Sure you’re an actor and actors need headshots but more specifically why are you looking for one now. Is your old headshot out of date? Did you just drastically change your hair? Are you not happy with what kind of roles you are getting now? Or are you happy with your current shots but want something that shows a broader range of the roles you can be cast in? Identifying your needs is the first step I take in crafting your headshot. The clearer your idea of what you want is the better I can serve you.
Choosing an outfit
Outfits are not the most important part of the headshot, nobody ever got cast because of the shirt they were wearing. Still, wardrobe is important and you want the clothes that will showcase the best you. It’s ideal to have clothes that do not distract. Muted, dark or neutral colours are best and you really should avoid patterns like pinstripes, polkadots or paisley. I’m a big fan of v-necks as they always create great lines for the eye to follow. Definitely avoid anything puffy or that comes up too high on the neck and obscures the jawline.
Hair and Makeup
Looking your best
Some people feel they need a makeover for a headshot but I disagree. If you get called into a casting because you have a headshot that shows you in one way and when you arrive the casting director sees something totally different you will probably be knocked off the short list.
For men, I think no make-up is the way to go and doing your own hair is best. Unless you routinely see a stylist before going to a casting it’s best to get ready for the shoot like you would a casting or call back.
For women I insist that you arrive to our shoot with no make up. We will start from a nude look and work toward something heavier. Again it’s best to do your own hair. Though our HMUA will be making sure nothing falls out of place. That way you look like you. 🙂
Where do we go now?
On location or in studio? Really this is up to you. Some people want the clean white backdrop of a studio others prefer something more natural or metropolitan. We can shoot indoor or out, weather permitting of course, or even both if time allows.
The first look
Once all the pieces are in place it’s time to take the first shot. Don’t worry if you don’t look your best yet. Getting a great headshot is a process, one that involves both the subject and photographer working in unison and it always takes a bit of time until we’re are operating in sync.
Have a look at these two shots of Amitai Marmorstein ( you make recognize him from the FOX series “Wayward Pines“). These are the first two shots in my session with him.
For the first I gave no coaching or direction, just to get a feeling of how comfortable he was in front of the camera. After that I gave just a few quick directions and the improvement was immediate. Most important, I think, is the eyes. In the first photo they look uncertain but in the second the are engaged and focused.
After shooting a healthy handful of shots I like to take my clients over to the computer for a review before the second look. This helps both of us identify what’s working and what’s not and gives me a chance to deliver some guidance to you when you don’t feel the pressure of the camera.
As the shoot progress the main thing I want to focus on is having fun. By the third look I want you to feel super relaxed and hopefully forget that there is a camera in the room. Yes, we do have serious work to get done but by now we’ll already have more than one stellar shot in the bag so both of us can let loose and play a round a bit. Maybe you want some funny or quirky shots for facebook or maybe we go a little over the top with a character you want to try. Often the best shots come when you think you have already delivered what we need and we are chatting and having fun.
After the shoot
Image selection and delivery
When the shoot is over I always give my clients a tour of my online proofing system. Within 3 days, usually less, I will upload the best shots to your own online gallery. There you can sort, organize and rate all the photos and show them to your friends and get second opinions. If you like, I can also make a login for your agent so he or she can leave their own ratings and make comments about why they like certain photos.
One you’ve made your selections I’ll do the retouching and deliver to you the final product ready for an 8×10 print.
A few notes about Photoshop
How much is too much?
Everyone has their own idea of how much post-production work is too much or not enough. My goal for a headshot is to make sure that you look like you. If you have an ugly zit or burned your forehead on a curling iron, I can of course correct those problems perfectly. What I won’t do is make your eyes larger or straighten your teeth. Again, it’s important that you look like you. No matter how nice a photo is, if it doesn’t look like you, it’s a bad headshot.
I hope this has been useful in answering some questions about what to expect from a headshot session with me, and hopefully prepare you so we can make the most of our time shooting. If you believe the time has come to have some new headshots done, why not drop me a line.