Headshots and how to prepare.

Posted by Jerry Avenaim on November 13, 2008 – 3:46 pm
Commercial Headshot

Commercial Headshot (Studio)

Indeed all headshot photographers are different, so I wanted to share what works best in my experience as a celebrity photographer.

When hair and make up is provided you should always arrive with a clean face and your hair ready to be styled, no gels, sprays etc. just clean and ready. It is also helpful to the makeup artist if you bring in old headshots and or snapshots of yourself so he or she can see what you like and dislike about your hair and makeup. Also, if you’re planning on doing your shoot with straight hair and curly hair, please make the team aware well before the photo shoot.


• Bring in a selection of your favorite clothing, following the guideline below:
• Variety of necklines (what you look best in).
• Choose fabrics that hang well. Some shirts (tops) wrinkle more than others.
• Dark colors, bright to mid-tones and black are always best.
• If you have fair skin, avoid pastels and creams, light blues, etc.
• White works with some skin tones and hair colors so use your best judgment.
• Avoid busy patterns; they are a distraction from you. Stay with solids.
• Sweaters with texture, cable knit or ribbed always photographs well.
• Depending on the look you want to project, layers also work well.
• Light and dark undergarments for women.
• Bring at least four of your favorite articles of clothing.
• Have bottoms as well for 3/4 or full-length shots.
• If you have a question about a piece of clothing, bring it with you.
• Don’t bring your whole closet, have a variety with your three favorites selected.

Jewelry and Accessories
• If you choose to have any in a shot, bring a range from: Simple – Casual – Dressy.
• If wearing glasses in a shot, you should have the lenses taken out prior to shoot. Almost any eyewear store will do this for you.

A few good tips: If you need some general pointers for what looks to achieve, there are four categories to help you cover all of the bases.

1.) Commercials: All-American, wholesome. Sell your type; clothes from the GAP, Banana Republic, J Crew, etc. medium tones, and layers work well.
2.) Film: Be yourself, creative and original. Wear your favorite things, ones that you look good in, and things that are you.
3.) Soaps (Women): More glamorous, elegant and upscale. An over all sexier look. Gucci, Prada and Armani are your friends here. (Men): Follow film suggestions.
4.) Corporate / Industrials / Spokesperson: (Men) Dark jacket & tie, conservative white or pastel shirt. (Women): Wear your favorite suit.

Be specific if you are going to dress for the part! For your 3/4 or full length shots. Don’t forget a belt, shoes, etc.

Final Notes:

In a commercial headshot your smile is very important. The headshot should portray your upbeat, happy personality and still show sincerity.

Legit Headshot

Legit Headshot (Studio)

In a legit headshot photograph (for film/theater) an interesting attitude can work for you. The eyes can do it all. In some photos, the eyes actually jump out at you. I look at the eyes and the mouth first, then at the general expression.

To sum up: a useful headshot is the result of a good partnership between the photographer and the actor, followed by a quality retouching and reproduction service. The headshot photographer provides the external mechanics (proper lighting, clarity, angles, etc.) and the actor handles the internal elements (his/her spiritual part, or soul fullness and genuine expressions). In having a successful session here are your ingredients;

A) Animated: expressive eyes smile and face.
B) Believable: sincerity rather than phoniness.
C) Communicative: depict charisma and emotion.
D) Drawing power: viewers should want to stare at your face rather than just quickly glance at the photo and pass it by.

If all this can be accomplished, your headshot will win people over and help your career move onward and upward.

This is your image and you have a say in the creative process. In choosing the right headshot photographer, it is paramount that you feel comfortable, and making your wants known from the beginning will make the final outcome that much better. Also, be sure to bring music that you enjoy, and remember to have fun on your shoot!

Jerry Avenaim

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8 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. Robin Said:

    I love your blog! You are such a cool cat!


  2. 2. Deb Fujiwara Said:

    This is probably the most informative article on headshots I’ve ever read. In particular, the way you gave pointers on how to achieve the major looks is fabulous.


  3. 3. Slava Blazer Said:

    Great article, Jerry! Very comprehensive and helpful.


    Jerry Avenaim Reply:

    Thank you for the kind words Slava, any questions or topics you need answered just leave a note!


  4. 4. Slava Blazer Said:

    Great! I will, Jerry.


  5. 5. Aaron Said:

    “If wearing glasses in a shot, you should have the lenses taken out prior to shoot. Almost any eyewear store will do this for you.”

    what about glasses that are partially or entirely frameless?


    Jerry Avenaim Reply:

    Aaron, Have the subject bring the chin down a bit. This should cut down on the reflection from the key light.


  6. 6. Aaron Said:

    this is what i suspected and, along with raising the main light and tilting it slightly more downward, is how i get rid of eyeglasses glare during shoots – i thought this was the reason you suggested removing the lenses from eyeglasses, but wanted to make sure.

    thanks for the clarification!


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