How To Prepare For Your Headshot Session
Your headshot is typically the first thing a casting director sees and is a key ingredient to your marketing so it pays to be well prepared for your session. Here are headshot photographer, Aimee Spinks’ top 6 recommendations on things to prepare before your headshot session:
1. Look and feel fresh!
A tired face isn’t going to give the right impression to a casting director, nor is a headshot lacking in energy. Make sure you’ve had plenty of sleep the night before your headshot session and come mentally prepared, as to get good results you won’t just be standing there whilst the photographer does all the work. It’s a collaboration that requires you to engage with the camera as an actor and work organically rather than simply going through a range of static poses.
2. Have the right outfits
This is key! Your headshots should be all about you, not your fashion sense. Keep it simple and non-distracting with plain tops without any collars, logos, buttons or patterns. Black, white and grey are a good safe bet, but other colours that work well include navy, burgundy and green, particularly if shooting outdoors against earthy tones. Matching your top with your eye colour is also a great way of helping them to stand out and mottled fabrics can give a nicer texture over block colours.
It’s incredible how much of a difference your top can make to how your headshots come across so it’s something well worth spending time planning. You can check out a whole article devoted to outfit selection HERE that includes things such as what neck lines might work best for your shape and casting type.
3. Think about your casting type
Knowing your niche is a great advantage that allows you to really focus your marketing. If you have developed a casting type, be sure to talk to your photographer about it so they can tailor the session to really bring it out and explore it properly.
If you are still early on in your career and don’t yet have a casting type, it can be useful to think about the roles you’ve connected well with in the past and the roles you’re most attracted to for future opportunities so you can explore these. Again, talk this through with your photographer so your headshots are a true representation of where you are at as an actor.
The most important thing is to ensure that your photographer doesn’t get you hamming it up and doing exaggerated facial expressions – keep it all very subtle! It’s amazing what a difference a shift of weight from back foot to front, and the slightest raise of a chin can do to how your headshot it perceived!
4. Do your research on photographers and headshots you like
Different headshot photographers have different styles; whether they shoot outdoors, in a studio, bring a traditional or contemporary feel to their work, each photographer’s style is unique and it’s important to work with a photographer who’s style reflects your own as this in itself can tell a casting director how you think and what you see.
Always find reviews of photographers you are interested in working with as this can give you extra information on how they work; are they friendly? Do they ‘get’ actors? How well can they work with the more camera shy out there? Is their pricing transparent? Do they have any unique insights into the industry that can give you an edge?
Practice makes perfect! Before your headshot session, spend some time in the mirror just seeing the difference subtle changes can make in your stance, posture, the ways in which you can focus your eyes or alter your smile and how that might affect what a casting director sees in the person reflected back.
It’s not just before a session that this self-analysis is useful: after a headshot session I take the time to go through all the images taken with an actor and we look at what angles and looks worked best so that next time they know how they should start. This approach means that your headshots should get better and better each time you have them updated.
6. Find out what casting directors want
Speak to as many casting directors, producers and directors as possible and ask them what they look for in actor headshots, or what kind of things stand out to them. You may have your own preferences and ideas but ultimately it’s these guys who are going to give you work so make sure you really understand their thought process when it comes to finding actors via their headshots. You can check out this interview with casting director Sharon Sorrentino and director Tracey Street as a starting point.
So there you have it – the top 6 things to prepare before your headshot session! You can find more do’s and don’ts for actor headshots as well as other useful resources on my blog page.
About the author:
Aimee Spinks is an internationally published photographer specialising in working with actors both during one on one headshot sessions and group workshops, as well as on set of some of the biggest feature films and TV dramas. Over the years, Aimee has provided set photography and portraiture of actors including Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Eddie Redmayne and Julie Walters.