If a picture is worth a thousand words, a perfect headshot is worth an entire library!
A perfect headshot speaks volumes about your personality, reveals what you look like at your very best, and is a reflection of your work ethic and commitment to success.
It’s also one of the main criteria that Hiring Managers use to determine whether or not you’re a good fit for a particular Brand Ambassador gig.
It’s your calling card and if it looks bad, you look bad.
So the big question is…
How do you get a killer headshot?
If you ‘re looking for an ultimate A-Z guide for taking the perfect headshot that will land you more gigs and higher pay rates, this little post I whipped up should do the trick!
Here are 8 nuggets of amazing headshot wisdom that I’ve collected from several expert photographers as well as from my own personal experience with The Headshot Truck.
Let’s start off by finding the perfect headshot photographer. No two photographers are going to be the same. They’re each going to have their own unique personalities, set of skills, backdrops, prices, preferred angles, etc. and it’s up to you to find the best fit!
I would definitely recommend going the extra mile here and doing some thorough research because these headshots are an important tool for your career and you don’t want to pay for and get stuck with duds that you don’t love.
I recommend checking Yelp first as Yelp is a great resource for finding skilled photographers in your area. On photographers’ Yelp pages, you’ll find examples of their work, links to their websites, and reviews from previous customers to use for your research.
After you’ve narrowed it down to a few of your favorite choices, it’s important to hop on a phone call and ask your prospects the right questions so that you feel comfortable and know exactly what you’d be getting as a client.
Here’s a free cheat sheet of 11 questions you MUST ask prospective headshot photographers so that you’re able to get the perfect headshots!
Your eyes should look alive and energized, not bland and glazed over.
Another thing to note is that a lot of people, when they’re posing, will keep their eyes wide open. This gives off a sense of uncertainty and fear, similar to that of a “deer in headlights.”
I’m guilty of doing this myself, but what my photographer from The Headshot Truck told me was a total game changer.
He told me to squint a little bit.
A slight squint worked wonders for my headshots and it will work wonders for yours too!
Squinting a little while smiling lights up your entire face, which conveys a more friendly and trustworthy personality. Squinting a little with a neutral face, gives you a wiser and more confident look.
Try it out in the mirror or in a selfie and see how much of a difference the all mighty squint makes!
Don’t show up to your photo shoot hung over, tired, and/or rushed because it will show in your headshots. That’s not the impression you want to give to Hiring Managers and that’s definitely not the impression that brands wants to give to their fans.
Try to avoid consuming any type of alcohol at least 24 hours prior to your photo shoot and instead drink lots of water. This will help keep your skin looking supple and vibrant!
Also, be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before so that you can show up to your shoot looking rested with minimal eye-baggage.
And if you’re thinking about trying new skin or hair products before a photo shoot, don’t do it. I know it can be tempting but if you try something new, you may experience unexpected and often times negative results.
We wouldn’t want your headshots to highlight your peeling skin and shedding hair…
As far as your wardrobe goes, plan out several outfits you want to wear the day before the shoot and make sure that they’re ironed and have no wrinkles or stains.
How do you feel when you wear your favorite outfit?
Pretty freakin’ awesome right??
You feel confident and attractive and you want as many people as humanly possible to see you!
That’s exactly how you should feel for your photo shoot. It will show on your face and in your body language and your pictures will turn out amazingly!
Don’t over do it though by wearing an outfit that’s too flashy – the headshot is about your face, not your clothes.
Avoid stripes, lavish necklaces, colorful ties, big earrings, props, etc. and reach for your favorite basics and solid dark colored clothing.
It’s also important to note that most headshot photographers offer something called “looks.”
Looks are simply wardrobe changes between shots so you can have a variety of pictures to submit to agencies. Extra looks do cost extra money since you’ll be taking up more time, but having a variety of looks is definitely worth the investment.
Bring several wardrobe options to your photo shoot, even if you decide to do just one look. Your photographer will make the best recommendation for you based on your vibe, the environment (indoor or outdoor), and your goals.
Guys should bring a couple of button up shirts, a few solid t-shirts, and maybe a suit or jacket if you want a more professional look.
Gals should bring several options with sleeves and several without.
If you have lighter skin, wear something darker and more colorful. If you have darker skin, wear something lighter. You want to make your face pop out rather than make it blend in with your outfit.
Everyone should use makeup…guys included!
I’m not calling you ugly, I’m sure you’re beautiful! But just a little bit of makeup can go a long way when a powerful camera is so close to your face.
It should look natural and clean. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, most headshot photographers have a makeup artist on their team who can pretty you up.
Whether you choose to do it on your own or have someone else do it, a good makeup job will highlight the best parts of you, while hiding any shine, redness, blemishes, and eye circles you may have.
Similar to makeup, you’re going to want the hairdo in your headshot to look like the hairdo you would rock at gigs.
Don’t wear more make up or pretty your hair up too much more than you would when going to a job interview or a gig. Hiring Managers are expecting you to look like your headshots and will feel sad if you don’t.
Don’t make Hiring Managers feel sad 🙁
The “¾ pose” is the money pose for most people. This is accomplished by positioning your body so that it’s facing 10 o’clock or 2’ o clock but your face is still looking directly at the camera.
This angle slims your body and really helps eliminate any double chin action.
Practice makes perfect so try out some poses in front of a mirror and see what works best. It might feel weird at first but it’s important that you feel comfortable posing for the camera. I didn’t practice at all and I regret it because I felt pretty awkward at times during my shoot.
Look through magazines or online for headshot and modeling examples that you like. Learn from the best and copy their moves!
Retouching is the postproduction editing process of your headshot.
It’s used to lighten or remove any blemishes, soften any under-eye circles, and whiten your eyes and teeth while at the same time leaving the photograph looking as natural and untouched as possible.
The purpose of retouching is to bring out the best version of you without making you look too different.
Most professional photographers offer affordable retouching services and I highly recommend you have it done for the headshots you like best.
It’s super rare that a headshot is so flawless that it needs no retouching. Even if you think you look perfect, there are certain things that a skilled editor can do that will give your headshot that little extra magic that just might get you booked for the gig of your dreams.
If you found a good photographer and have prepared as best as you could, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Just have fun and let your photographer capture your beautiful spark!
Remember, it’s in the photographer’s best interest to make these photos look incredible. A lot of their business comes from referrals so they might even care more about the success of the shoot than you do!
Your photographer is going to take lots of pictures so don’t fret if you don’t look perfect in some of the frames.
Just be sure to communicate clearly to your photographer what you want. Photographers are great at what they do but they’re not mind readers.
Keep in mind too that your photographer has taken thousands of headshots before and probably knows a thing or two about making you look great.
Trust and listen to them.
Your headshots will turn out beautifully if you do.
Having the perfect headshot gets you paid that sweet, sweet cash and if that ain’t enough of a reason to go out and get some taken, I don’t know what is!
The small investment is worth every penny and you’ll get it all back and so much more if you use this guide.
Good luck and go make Derek Zoolander proud!