5 Steps To The Perfect Headshot

13-05-16 Headshots

By Brian Henninger

Headshots… It’s hard to know what to look for when you’re getting ready to invest hundreds of dollars in pictures that you hope will land you a gig or at least get you in the door for an audition. The solution? Fly Gyal’s got a simple, no nonsense approach to taking the best possible head shots!

  1. Know your type: You need to know what “Type” you best represent. Are you the sweet blonde haired girl next door, or are you a dark long haired latina women?  Are you a preppy dresser, or are you naturally more street?   You need to ask yourself these questions because knowing your “Type” will not only make you better at seeking out opportunities that fit you but also  can help you take better pictures. You are presenting what is true to yourself and not some image you think you need to embody.
  2. Know your photographer’s work: Don’t just hire the most affordable photographer – this is how people end up with completely unusable shots. They get wind of a photographer that is “super affordable” but they neglect to really look into the quality of their work and end up getting screwed out of time and money. Theres a simple way to avoid this, though. Do a little bit of research and find out which photographers have taken some of the most successful dancers’ shots. That’s an easy way to weed out 99% of the photographers that aren’t suited to your needs.
  3. Know what the standard is: This goes back to doing your research. In this industry you need to take it upon yourself to figure out what the characteristics of a good headshot are. Know how they are different depending on if it’s a commercial headshot or a theatre or film headshot. For instance: a commercial headshot is very much about the quality of your smile and your eyes. Commercials are quick so you need to engage the audience in an instant. Your headshot should show your energy as bright and welcoming right from the moment someone sees it. For a theatre or film headshot smiles can work as well but people also want to see a spectrum of your emotion. Often times these headshots are more serious facial expressions. You want to engage someone and make them curious about who you are.
  4. Prepare for your shoot: Getting a good night’s sleep before a photoshoot seems like common sense right? It is. So don’t neglect it! It is amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for your skin, your eyes, your smile, and your overall energy on shoot day.  For my guys with short hair, make sure that if you get a haircut prior to your headshot shoot that you give a few days between your cut and your shoot. I find that hair looks better on camera if it has a few days of natural growth after getting cut. Make sure you are eating healthy in general but especially leading up to the shoot. Don’t neglect your vegetables and vitamins. You want to look vibrant and healthy, not washed out and run down.
  5. What to wear what to wear?!: This is a tough question but here are some general guidelines. Stay away from busy patterns and big logos. Your shot is about your face and energy not the shirt you’re wearing so anything that pulls focus away from your face is a no-no. Keep it simple: simple, bold, solid colors and basic patterns always work best! Pick colors that compliment your body and your features – eyes, hair, etc.  I recommend 2-3 looks for a well rounded shoot. 1 look that allows you to show off your dance ability (not so much for headshots but more for body shots and movement shots), 1 look that is casual and commercial (think bold colors solid patterns), and finally 1 look that is a little more formal to give a contrast.  With a solid picture portraying all of these looks you will have in your arsenal several different options to submit to projects.

A good quality photographer will help you with different backgrounds and lighting techniques. Ask them what they think is best. They will make you look top notch because they have the experience and knowledge necessary to showcase your look!

For more industry tips check out my book “Book Dance Jobs: The Ultimate Career Guide For The Professional Dancer”  at www.bookdancejobs.com

Photo: Via Headshots New York
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