I love the process of helping my clients pick out the best outfits for their headshot sessions. It’s actually quite fun! Kinda like playing with a life-size Barbie/Ken doll. As a child, I secretly loved going to my girlfriends houses because I knew I would get to play barbies. Of course I would pretend to be adamantly opposed and eventually give in. Of course.
This blog post is to help you, the reader, with what to wear for your headshot session. Also… what not to wear. This will be just like the TV show, only not at all.
MAKEUP: Natural. Natural. Natural. Did I say natural? I don’t know if you can tell but I am trying to make a point. I highly recommend all my clients use a hair and makeup artist. Yes men, even you. For women it should only cost an extra $75-150 for a good hair and makeup artist for a headshot session, for men you should be charged $50-$100. Just like you trust professional photographers with their expertise, you should also trust a makeup artists with theirs. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.
HAIR: Just like your makeup, your hair should be natural. Whatever your hair is going to look like when you walk into the audition room is how your hair should be in your headshot.
“LOOKS”: Tired of being typed out? Then KNOW your TYPE, and sell it!! When picking out your outfits, be sure not to just pick out the same shirt in a different color. A “look” is supposed to help a casting director see you in the role you are auditioning for. This really comes in handy when you get typed from just your headshot. You want the job, don’t you? Pick outfits that are close to the types of roles you’re going to play. But dear Lord – don’t show up with a costume!
WHAT TO WEAR:
- Textures – I have noticed over the years textures photograph beautifully! Women look for lace, leather, satin, knit, etc. Men, don’t look for lace. I think you get the idea, be inventive. Don’t just reach for the cotton!
- Bright colors – Be sure to pick colors that compliment your skin tones and pop in a photograph.
- Form fitted outfits – Show off your body! If you have curves, show them. I bring clips to every session just in case something is too loose. You don’t get this luxury with some photographers!
- Be sure to feel confident in your cloths – If you are self conscious in an outfit, you probably shouldn’t bring it. You want your headshots to ooooz personality and confidence. I have a feeling if you wear your bright red button up top with the black lace collar you got from the outlets, you aren’t going to feel too confident.
- Solids - When in doubt solids are always a good way to go. Try to find solids with texture.. [see above.]
- Always bring appropriate matching bottoms. Occasionally those get photographed.
- This one is for the ladies: make sure you have the proper bras for the shoot. Please don’t bring a black bra under a light shirt, thats just plane dumb. (also, will cost you money in the long run with photoshop)
- Bring small accessories to change up a look. IE glasses and a cardigan [or tie for the gents] on top of a t-shirt top can change a look from a generic commercial to a smart/nerdy look.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR: [pay close attention to these]
- Baggy cloths – Baggy cloths make you look fat. There I said it. I know its cute, and totally in right now. But it doesn’t photograph well. I will throw fire in your hair if you bring a baggy top to a headshot session with me!
- Plunging neck lines – [both men and women] You don’t want your headshot selling anything but your personality! The only pair you want someone looking at is your eyes… and nobody likes man cleavage either. Well, unless its pretty, then we can talk.
- White shirts – White reflects light. You don’t want to look like a lightbulb in your headshots! If you want something on the lighter end, try a cream top.
- Distracting patterns – Patterns are ok. But be sure not to pick anything too busy or loud.
- Tube tops – This one’s for the ladies [and select gentleman]. You will look naked. [See plunging neck lines above.]
- Logos – Avoid logos. Select graphic tees are ok. Make sure that your graphic tee still communicates your type, without being too literal.
Here are A few photo examples I thought may help.
This is Ariel Mantelli, I think she looks like Eva Longoria. During her session, I asked if I could photograph her first outfit for my blog post. I thought it was a great example of the importance of your cloths fitting properly. I typically have clips with me for every shoot to make sure you look the best you can possibly look! Try to bring cloths that fit you well.
Oh Ms. Amber La Fave, I love this girl. I asked her to bring a strapless tank top FOR THIS REASON! They are just wrong and should never be photographed! Your headshot will end up looking like you’re auditioning for a dancer at the local Flamingo Lounge. No bueno. Also, this top is white. Notice how most of the detail is lost in the photograph.. if you want something with a similar feel try a cream. Gives the illusion of white without attracting so much light. You’re welcome!
(From left to right: Jodi Tanaka, Jason Keef, Emma Chandler) I loved their choices of patterns, and textures. I thought I would use them all as examples to show that not all patterns are bad. Just be smart people. If you’re not sure about something still bring it, I’ll help you out!
This is Luke Yellin, fresh off the Shrek National Tour. This is a perfect example of how just glasses and a tie can completely change up your look. Thus saving you some money getting you two looks for the price of one!
Here are a few questions frequently asked questions I thought they may be of some help.
I know how to do my own makeup, do I really need a makeup artist? I highly recommend using a hair and makeup artist, regardless of your makeup skills. A professional makeup artists has a proficient understanding of people’s faces and how to enhance their natural features. Also, they’re skilled at completing looks, when shooting 5 looks they are there to help complete each look. Please don’t go to your local MAC Counter. They’re great for a special event or a night out, but not for headshots. I cant tell you how many girls have shown up and asked for a box of tissues. Just trust your photographers makeup artist.
How often do I need to update my headshots? Long story short, as often as you change your look. After speaking with countless casting directors, choreographers, and directors, the main complaint is that actors come to auditions with outdated headshots. When a casting director is seeing 400 people for 30 spots and your headshot looks nothing like you, how do you expect them remember you after your audition? Don’t expect a call back homeslice. Every time you drastically change your look [IE chopping off all your hair, going from blonde to brunette, or even a boob job] you need new headshots.
Black and white? No. No. No. Please don’t go into an audition with a black and white headshot. If your headshots are black and white, there is a good chance the last time you had them done was in 1999. Which is not ok. I am pretty sure 10+ years down the road you’re not going to look the same as you did when you were 25. No offense. I mean, yes offense. Get your headshots updated!
I don’t own any form fitted cloths.. Thats easy, go buy some. If you are strapped for cash, there are other options. If you purchase cloths and keep the tags on them you can always return them… I am not advocating this, but I know a few people who have done it.
What type am I? That’s a much longer conversation than I can type. If you don’t have an agent or manager, we can discuss this before your shoot.
I leave you with this: make sure that your headshots look like YOU. If they don’t, then they are useless. There is nothing a creative team hates more then taking a second glance at your headshot because they can’t match the face with, well… the face! I know this because out of all the casting directors, choreographers, directors, and producers I have spoken with, this was the single most common concern. So put that in your bag pipe and blow it.
I think I have covered it. If you manage to come up with any questions, don’t hesitate to comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer them!
Thanks for reading!
PS: Special thanks to Kaitlyn Etter, Jodi Tanaka, Jason Keef, Emma Chandler, Amber La Fave, Ariel Mantelli, Luke Yellin, and Bertrand Roy for allowing me the use of their photos for my post!
For more information or to book your headshot session, email: firstname.lastname@example.org