I remember going to my first headshot session as an actor. Excited, nervous, and hopeful—but more than anything tragically oblivious to what tools I needed with me on the day of to best set myself and the photographer up for success.


Part of this confusion was: no one told me what to bring, what to wear, how to prep my skin, what makeup and skincare items to use or avoid, how to show off my hair...the list goes on. I showed up with a leather jacket, black smokey eyes, and red lipstick, without so much as having brushed through my hair. Sufficeth to say, I never used those headshots. Not because they looked bad, but because they did not look like me or represent my personality.


Let me clarify this: A good headshot needs to show off the versatility and personality of YOU. Not your makeup, wardrobe, or surroundings. We want to show off a personable canvas to the casting director, your clients, or your LinkedIn network. And the key goal for a successful headshot session is making sure you are presenting the most authentic you!


Of course, the goal of our session would be different if this was a blog post about a glam photoshoot or an influencer post. In that case, my old red lipstick and smokey eye would be welcome. But not so much in a headshot session. You get my point.

So, how should I prepare?

Now that we've acknowledged the importance of preparation, let's dive into tools and tips that equip you for a successful headshot session:

Makeup and Skincare


Skincare

DO emphasize moisturizing your skin properly and avoid mineral sunscreens

DO apply a thick layer of lip balm as you are heading to your headshot session. Your photographer will thank you copiously for helping them avoid editing dry cracks in your lips in post!


Makeup:

DO apply your makeup in very thin layers. It is VITAL that your skin shows through in your final images

If you struggle with breakouts, follow this video guide by Desi Perkins on covering blemishes and hyperpigmentation.

DO apply a light layer of powder in areas that are a bit shiny (i.e. bridge of your nose, forehead, etc.)

• DO bring with natural lip colors and avoid brightly colored or matte lip products

DO bring with your makeup bag to touch up your look as needed!

Hair—for folks showing off locks


Care:

DO wash and condition / prep your hair the day of the session or the day before


Styling:

DO style your hair as you would for an in-person audition, in-person client meet-up, etc.

DO bring with hairspray, styling products, and a hairbrush to tame flyaways and "zhuzh" your style between shots—especially if you are taking your shots outdoors!

• DO bring with hair accessories if you would like to wear your hair in more than one style

Outfits


Clothes:

DO bring outfits you feel your best in! If you're feeling yourself and feeling fierce, that confidence and energy radiate to your pictures as well!

• DO bring with several shirts, (and pants / skirts / dresses if you are seeking modeling shots) in various colors—avoid neons and bold colors if you can

• DO dress for the part! If you are focusing on business headshots, avoid tank tops and loose T-shirts and focus on silhouettes.

Similarly, if you are focusing on audition and professional acting headshots, avoid suits, ties, and "formal" wear and instead focus on attire that makes you look the most approachable and personable!

DO reach for solid colors without patterns, logos, or prominent graphics. Remember the focus should be on you and not your outfit!


Accessories:

DO keep your look simple and avoid earrings, necklaces, and hair clips that take and divide our focus from your eyes. If you usually wear earrings, consider studs or simple hoops.

Actors—keep facial piercings to a minimum of one. Consider removable hoops that you can swap out between shots if you'd like to have pictures with and without piercings.

Good luck And happy clicking!