My headshot session was earlier this year in January with amazing photographer and actor Lauren Toub. If you’re in the New York area, you should definitely consider shooting with her. Lauren was very down-to-Earth and fun! And most importantly, she made me feel comfortable in front of the camera. Ok, really, MOST importantly, she was fantastic at her job. Her energy pumped me up even though she had just gotten home from Asia (hello, jetlag). And although she was super sweet, Lauren had no qualms about directing you into interesting facial and body contortions (more on that later!). When you’re making the investment for these photos, you are going to WANT a photographer who helps you work the camera.
You will also want your photographer to tell you, “Nope, that is way too much hair.”
Or “Yeah, that collar is not going to work.” My face wasn’t working, either. Popping my collar for that bro look!
My point is that I loved how open Lauren was to trying different things and how quickly she moved on if it didn’t work. I so vibed with her!
So my #1 piece of advice: definitely meet your headshot photographer before you commit to booking him/her. Many photographers will do a consultation with you regarding what kind of looks you are aiming to get out of the session. You will hopefully get a feel for personality, style, and compatibility. I got lucky with Lauren. Her shooting schedule was packed, so I took the only available date in my preferred week. As I mentioned, that was the day after she returned from a trip. So I didn’t get to meet with her beforehand like she usually does with her clients. But I went off of friends’ glowing recommendations about her, and they were right! But yes, if you have the opportunity, meet the photographer beforehand.
So you know how I mentioned that you should discuss what looks you are going for during the shoot?
This is Rule #2 for how to get awesome headshots. Have a clear idea of what roles you play, and how your headshots should look to get you into the audition room. Lauren had a great list of questions regarding what roles and types of work you see yourself in, what roles you are usually cast in, and to what genres you are attracted. My favorite exercises from the list were asking friends which actors I reminded them of and creating a pinterest board of styles and celebrities I love. I got the best and weirdest answers for who I reminded my friends of: Olivia Munn, Kat Dennings, Leah Remini, Margaret Cho, Jennifer Carpenter, Melissa McCarthy, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Connelly, Kimiko Glenn, and my favorite- Anjelica Huston! All of that information along with the visuals of the Pinterest board helped me decide on my wardrobe and get me “into character”. Bring extra tops in case you have the additional time for more looks or on the chance some tops you thought were going to be fabulous actually don’t work. I was pleasantly surprised when Lauren was able to shoot me in way more looks than I had expected!
You can see how the leather jackets from my Pinterest board influenced my headshot style. It’s the Dexter-ish “I solve crimes all the time, but if I get blood splatter on this jacket, it’s cool. Because it’s not leather. Just wipe that ish off” look. Yup, PU vegan leather from Top Shop. Heeeeey.
Rule #3: If you’re going to spend the money on beautiful photos, then make sure you have the right makeup. I tried to cut corners myself and thought of ways I could save on hair and makeup. I ended up doing my hair myself , and most photographers are totally fine with that because you should be able to replicate the hairstyle that’s in your headshots for auditions. Now you’re probably thinking then you should do your own makeup because that’s the makeup you need to recreate when you walk into an audition. The problem is the lighting plus the camera creates ALL sorts of different than real life, and the makeup artist who works with the photographer is familiar with how the makeup will turn out on camera. Why risk putting on your normal makeup and looking washed out? Or hiring a cheaper makeup artist who isn’t familiar with the photographer’s work/style/lighting? I know. It’s strange. Kind of like how brides get professionally caked on makeup, and it actually looks good in the photos (most of the time). I just leave it up to the experts. And Brad Laskey is an expert. Just bring photos of you with your usual makeup, and he’ll make you look like you on your best day!
Rule #4: This may sound silly, but rehearse. Practice your best poses and give your best face in front of the mirror before your shoot. Think about a subtext or story behind each expression and character. I didn’t do my homework as well as I should have, but this is where Lauren was my savior! She would put me in various scenarios, and sometimes, just plain help me cheat. “Squint like this! Look down and then quickly up!” She also helped me position my body to look more flattering. You would be amazed by how much skinnier your arms look when you place them waaaaaaay back there- yeah, almost to the point of popping out of your shoulders. Tricks, you guys. Lots of tricks.
Just dislocated my shoulder here.
Lauren whispered something I can’t repeat here.
Broke my neck here.
I’m pretty sure Lauren just told me to my open my mouth.
Anyway, you get it. Practice so you can change it up like a pro!
I’m not going to add this as a rule because it will make you want to punch me in the face. But have fun! Bring some tunes. Dance. Hydrate. Enjoy your time in front of the camera!
My friend Susi and I ended up shooting on the same day (at different times). But it was so nice to prepare together and just support each other throughout the whole thing.
Get a happy post-shoot selfie. Because damn, my brows never look this good! I don’t know how to do them without looking like a surprised clown.
Then treat yourself. I thought this was what I ate AFTER the shoot. But it was what I ate the night BEFORE the shoot. I would not recommend doing that.
My final shots I use are the first blue dress one, olive jacket, black tank without the open mouth, and the one with glasses. Most times, an actor’s goal from a 2-3 hour shoot is to get one to two decent headshots. Crazy, right? The rest go to the laptop photo album cemetery- or sprinkled around a blog post. Hey! I have 400 from the shoot! It seems so wasteful not to share.
Thanks for looking at them!