My job: is to take the three dimensional you and successfully translate you into a two dimensional medium, so the day is not as much about what you look like, as it is about who you are. (Lucky for me, you already look like you. Thank you, and good job!) The "who you are" part is about capturing moments of honest response, you know, those unselfconscious moments of when you are confidently and unapologetically yourself. How do we capture that in a completely controlled environment? I'm glad you asked. I got a system, see? You're gonna love it. The good news is that it's super easy and fun and is designed for people who hate having their picture taken like myself. There is no bad news. I do not believe that there is a person on this planet who "doesn't photograph well" or is "unphotogenic." In 25 years I've never seen it once. True story.
A good headshot captures what you look like, a great headshot captures who you are.
Your job: is to feel comfortable saying "no" to your photographer. No matter who you shoot with, whether it's me or the other guy, if you don't feel comfortable saying "no" to your photographer then you're shooting with the wrong photographer for you. At any time, you should feel comfortable saying things like, "I don't want to sit, I like standing, I don't feel comfortable in bright red, I would never wear my hair that way in real life, I'd prefer not to listen to your Best of Yanni collection I brought Duran Duran, Maia you're a dork." Especially that last one if you're shooting with someone else 'cause that's just comedy.
Don't Forget: that Headshots are a service industry. You are paying for a service and should feel comfortable calling the shots (see what I did there? with the pun?). It should be your day – you should be wearing your favorite outfit, listening to your favorite tunes, and sitting comfortably, not posed, because what better way to inform a photograph about yourself than to sit in the way you would actually sit, wear the things you would actually wear, listen to the music you would actually listen to, and drink the booze you would actually drink…it's not called "Lets Do Shots" for nothing. (Unless you're a minor in which case bring booze for your parents, they totes deserve it.)
What to Wear:
The most important thing in a headshot is direction and focus in the eyes, so you want to wear things that draw focus to your face – things that contrast your skin tone and make you pop!
Now, color is a wacky thing. (Back in my day we shot in black and white, and we liked it! SNL? Dana Carvey? Anyone? No? Just me?...) With color, everything reads differently on different people. So a good rule to go by is, if you look good in it in life, you will look good in it in a color photograph. That being said, if you have brown hair, and brown looks good on you – because it picks up the color in your hair – brown may not be a good color to shoot in because it compliments you rather than makes you pop. We’re going for the pop, people. (Do I sound like Tyra yet?) So, what I usually recommend is for you to bring a ton of stuff. Some people really get popped in pastels, some people really pop in jewel tone colors. I had a guy bring a bright orange shirt once, and I thought that’s gonna look terrible and he looked FANTASTIC on camera. I once had a girl bring three different red tops and only one of them looked good on her – one had too much blue in it, one had too much orange, etc. So you can see, even the slightest thing can make a color more right or wrong for you. I had a client once who had those amazing blue eyes – you know the kind that stop you in your tracks, and so everyone told him to wear blue all the time, to bring them out – but in a headshot, we found that wearing blue obscured his blue eyes, because there was so much blue in the picture already, that they didn’t stand out. When we put him in green, however, his eyes were the only thing blue in the shot, the green brought them out just fine, and his eyes just jumped off the page, and down the street, and now he’s blind, poor soul… Conversely, I have found that people with green eyes definitely pop better when wearing green. So, please to bring a good variety of colors. I won’t be able to tell you what is going to work specifically for you until I see you in the light holding the shirt up to your chin.
There is no such thing as bringing too much stuff. I will be mad at you if you bring 4 tops, I won’t be mad at you if you bring 104 tops.
Also, keep in mind that if you wear something round necked, like a sweater set, tank top, t-shirt, it will read lower status, sporty, ingenuey (yes it’s a word! Even if spell check doesn’t think so), young mom/dad. If you wear something with a collar, like a button down, a suit, a blouse, it will read higher status, like, maybe you have a job, like a secretary, or a lawyer, or doctor. So, again, bring a variety. No logos please. Patterns can be okay depending on the pattern, so bring it and we'll make a game time call. Plaid is fine. In fact, these days, plaid is ubiquitous. The 90s are back people. What you wear on the bottom doesn’t matter so much, I am mainly concerned with the colors that will be close to your face, so unless you are freakishly flexible, jeans, black pants, skirts, whatever is fine. Wear things that you would actually wear–things that make you feel crazy, sexy, cool. If you’re the kind of person who loves to wear overalls, bring your overalls. Tank tops, and turtlenecks are just fine–don’t let anybody tell you different.
In order to help keep your headshot costs down, I include make-up. Huzzah! (Except not during covid because we all shouldn't be touching each other's faces. Booooooo. But I have a safe make up artist situation available for ya below, don't fret.) What that entails for men is basic blemish cover up and powder. What that entails for women is basic blemish cover up and powder, and what I like to call “make-up assist”. If you cannot recreate the hair or make-up in your headshot for an audition then you will not look like your headshot, so, I will have you do your eyes the way you would do them for an audition and then I will highlight and shadow you properly for camera making sure you are flawless and camera ready! For examples of my make-up artistry check out my portfolio, I did almost everyone on the site. (Get your mind out of the gutter, I did their MAKE-UP)
Now, if you know that you would feel more comfortable with a professional hair and make-up artist I work with some GREAT people who I’d be happy to schedule for you (remember, the day is all about you feeling comfortable) but note, that an outside make-up artist will cost around $135 to $250 on top of your session fee. My go to safe for these Covid times make up recommendations below:
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