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Starting at Zero: Headshots

Setting Goals: p.1
What to Expect: p.2
Finding a Photographer: p.3
Cost: p.4
Dos and Don'ts: p.5
Getting Ready: p.6
The Shoot: p.7
Your Proofsheets: p.8
Makin' Copies: p.9
Headshots Online?: p.10

Preparing for the Shoot

So, you've decided on the photographer you are comfortable with and can afford. What do you do leading up to the day of the shoot?

  • Sleep. Be rested. Try to catch up on your sleep for a few days. You'll be using the results of this shoot for some time, so you want to look your best. You may have to skip that rerun of "Sunset Boulevard" that's starting at 1:00 a.m.  You may need to come home after the first nightclub. (Ahhh, the sacrifices we make for our art ...) But it'll be worth it in the end result.

  • Exercise. Get some exercise that day, prior to the shoot. Jog, take a brisk walk, do some yoga. It doesn't really matter what exercise you do. But if you get your blood circulating you're more likely to have that certain glow. You're also less likely to tense up in front of the camera.

  • Clothes. It's a good idea to wear neutral clothes. The headshot is about you, not your wardrobe. So you shouldn't wear anything that will lead the eye away from your face. Interesting textures are good, but don't wear any bold prints or stripes. Simple, solid colors are best. And you may want to check in advance to see what kind of background your photographer wants to use. If the photographer uses a black background, you probably don't want to wear black clothes, or your headshot may end up looking like a disembodied head floating against a field of black.

    You'll probably want to use a variety of outfits during the shoot. But, again, don't get too extreme. Bring three or four simple outfits to the shoot so that you and the photographer can choose what will work best. And remember that it's a good idea to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. You don't want to be distracted by a collar that's too tight or a scarf that won't stay in place.

  • Hair. It's a good idea to keep your hair simple, too. Although it may be tempting, it's probably not a good idea to try a new hairstyle just for the photo shoot. If your hair is a particular selling point (like Jane Seymour or Fabio), you may want to make it a bit more prominent in your headshot than most people would. Otherwise, it's best to have a becoming yet dignified hairstyle for your headshot. It's also usually best to schedule your shoot at least a week or so after you get a haircut, so it doesn't have that "just buzzed" look. Consult with your photographer to gain further insight; he or she may have additional hair advice.

  • Makeup. You might consider having a makeup artist join you in your shoot. Collaborate with the photographer that you've chosen, because he or she may have a working relationship with certain makeup artists in your area. Your photographer may also tell you that he or she would prefer to work with no makeup or with only your usual street makeup. In any event, you want to make sure that you don't do anything too extreme.

  • Jewelry. As in so many things, less is more. If you want to wear jewelry, keep it very simple. Jewelry is yet another way the focus can be taken away from you.

More ...
The Shoot

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