Since I started photographing Headshots it always boggles my mind how unprepared actors are when they come to a Headshot Session. Sometimes it seems as if they just grabbed some clothes, threw them in a bag and just hopped on the train. Seems as if they forgot that their Headshot is the key to get them seen. Their Headshot is their business card and it should be taken as serious as anything. What does this all mean? It means that the actor has homework to do before their session.
Their needs to be some game plan that goes into each and every session. As an actor you need to think about many different areas about your session before even committing to the photographer. Here are a free things you should be thinking about prior to scheduling a consultation:
1. Do you want natural light Headshots or Studio Headshots? These are two completely different styles. Shooting outdoors you do have to worry about the weather elements. Also you have to be aware that even though the lightning outdoors is so soft and amazing, it will capture all the details in your face. Studio lighting will blow out your skin a bit, which means some detail will be washed out. Shooting in a studio their will be no weather elements, but your options will be limited.
2. Have a meeting with you representation. Talk about different photographers they trust. In this meeting you should be discussing what exactly you as a team want to achieve from your session. By just saying you need a "commercial" or "legit" look is not enough. You need to be very specific. Go through every detail with them. Talk to them about hair, makeup, clothing, specific looks. Talk to them about shooting outdoors or in a studio. The more you cover in your meeting, the more you will have to talk about to the photographer and give them in your meeting.
3. Look up photographers and go through their portfolios. See whose work really makes an IMPACT on you. Also see whose work looks like everyone else's. You do not have to use the same photographer everyone else uses. Just because that photographer worked for them does not mean it will work for you. You have to be patient and truly take the time to look at the photographers portfolio. Look at the types of people they photograph. Are they all model types? Are you a model type? Odds are you are not, which means odds are this photographer is not for you. Also look at lighting. Just because the photographer calls themselves a "Natural Light Photographer" does not mean that they are good at it. Same goes with Studio photographers. There is no easy way to choosing a photographer. You have to put in the work.
4. Once you made a list of potential photographers you want to meet with call or email them and ask to meet for a consultation. If they say they do not do consultation, RUN. If a photographer is unwilling to meet with you then they probably just want your money. When you are meeting with your photographer ask questions, ask to see their portfolio...etc. This is your opportunity to see if this photographer is right for you. Talk to them about what you are looking for and everything you discussed with your industry connection. The more you talk about and discuss, the more of a game plan you will have going into your session.
Lets say you found your photographer and you have booked your session. What is next? Well, time to get everything you need for the session together. I always think it is a good idea to go back to your agent, manager, etc and discuss things once more. Finalize everything from looks to clothing etc... Then go shopping if you need to. Remember as long as you leave the tag on you can certainly return it (make sure before you leave the store). I also think it is a good idea to google image actors you resemble and see what they are wearing. You are not copying them, but you can get a good idea of their style. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and also make sure everything is ready to go so you do not have to do it the morning of your session.
On the day of your session try to arrive 15 mins early at least. It is always professional to arrive early. Remember when you are there collaborate with your photographer. Do not put it all in their hands. This is your session not theirs. You have done all this homework and now is the time to reap the benefits. Remember to be completely open and let yourself shine through. It is about who you really are and not the characters you may or may not be able to play. Set yourself up for success and not failure.
During the session ask to see photos whether on the computer or the back of the camera. You should not want to be surprised when you see your gallery. Look at a few photos. See if you like what you see. If you do not like what you are seeing ask to continue shooting... This is your time. When you leave your session you should be excited and feel truly amazing. You should have that feeling that you can take on the world. It is going to be a long day and taking Headshots can be emotionally draining, but the outcome should feel simply amazing.
If you take anything from this blog post it should be this... You the Actor have to do Your Homework. This is your session and you are responsible for it. You are responsible for making the best decision when it comes to picking your photographer to the photos you select. Take it serious. The Headshot that Leaves the Biggest IMPACT gets you in the DOOR!