Headshots Part 2

photo via Jadée Nikita

photo via Jadée Nikita

By Jadée Nikita

It’s been long over due, but I finally got my new headshots for the year (don’t judge).  I had a great time with the photographer, and I have to say, overall, these are the best commercial headshots I’ve ever taken.  So I had to ask myself, “Self.  What is it that made this experience better than the rest?”  It didn’t take long before the notes started racking up in my brain and it became clearer to identify the pros and cons of a headshot session.

In part one of our Headshot advice article, contributing industry writer, Brian Henninger, outlined a lot of great tips for getting the most out of your photo shoot.  In this article, we will elaborate and update you on the important details of how to make your headshot stand out from the crowd.

Almost every dance audition you go to will require a headshot and résumé.  In the end, this is what most casting directors use to make their final decision on who gets hired and who doesn’t.  Make sure your packet gets tossed in with the “yes” pile, and stand out from the rest with a fly headshot and moves to back it up 😉

The Deets:

Cozy up.  Before you begin any photo shoot, it’s important to calm your mind and body and prepare yourself to have a great time – no matter what.  You are handing out a lot of dough for these photos so the last thing you want to do is sabotage yourself.  Shake it out, workout before hand, pack for the shoot the night before, and plan to get there early.  You want to alleviate added stress by controlling any situations you can.  Another way to break the ice, is to call the photographer and talk details about your shoot. It helps so you’re I’m not walking into the studio like a shy stranger.

The more control you have over the shoot, the more relaxed you will feel and look on set.  Take the reigns, and don’t be afraid to get your ideal headshot.  Don’t be a diva, but trust me, a photographer prefers working with a client who has specific details as opposed to someone who doesn’t have any ideas for the shoot at all.

photo via The Keep Calm-O-Matic

photo via The Keep Calm-O-Matic

Makeup.  When getting in front of any camera, be it for film or photography, it’s best to keep in mind the K.I.S.S rule – Keep it Simple, Silly.  Long gone are the days where caked on foundation, and thick cat-eyes were the thing.  Today, a fresh, natural face is what casting directors and agents want to see when they lo0k at your headshot.  When a person wears too much makeup (unless the casting notice says to come performance or stage ready) they can look older than normal, look like they are trying to cover up imperfections, or like they are auditioning for the role of a street walker (lol, you know it’s true!).  So in general, keep the makeup light and natural.   Check out our recent blog post on how to achieve a natural look for your skin tone, here.

photo via Lib Magazine

photo via Lib Magazine

Posing. Ever been on set and you find yourself doing the same pose over and over again?  Or you find you have no idea what to do with you hands?  No worries, it happens to the best of us. An easy way to calm those jitters is to properly prep yourself for those awkward moments.  One of my favorite ways is to study photos in fashion magazines and imitate them (with my own twist, of course) in front of a mirror.  Make sure to find the best angles that work best for your body type.  For example when doing a side tooch, don’t turn your torso completely left or right.  The arch in your back will create a weird bump around your tummy making it appear larger than it really is.  Instead, angle your torso on a slight diagonal to create a more slim and feminine effect.

photo via Aleksandar Kujucev

photo via Aleksandar Kujucev

Narrowing it down.  Let’s face it, when it comes to narrowing down your final selection of photos to be edited, it can be a very daunting task.  Clicking through hundreds of thumbnails, not knowing how to pick only 3 photos out of the 400 that are available.  You can get it down to 20, easily, but how do you pick the top 3 photos that best represent you and are flexible enough to use for every type of audition?

It helps if you have an agent.  It’s their business to be informed on what’s best when it comes to the industry, and they have a sharp, professional eye for knowing which photos will get you the most work.  So if you have an agent, kindly ask him/her to help you narrow down the selection.  If you don’t have one, I recommend asking your close, professional dance friends, and/or mentor who you trust for their opinion.  No matter what you do, after you make your selection, wait 24hours, sleep on it, then revisit the list.  When you come back to it the next day, it’s almost like seeing the photos for the first time.

Finishing touch.  When it’s all said and done – the photographer made the edits, and you reproduced a copious amount of copies, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your headshot.  Funny enough, a lot of dancers overlook this step and they find themselves asking the embarassing question, “do you have a stapler?”  or worse, they turn in a headshot and resume with dog ears (i.e the top, left corner is folded down).  You might as well have a tattoo on your forehead that says “unprepared” because this is what your pretty much signaling to the casting director by turning in a headshot and resume that’s not stapled together.  Trust me, these things don’t go unnoticed.  So do yourself a favor and don’t undercut your chances of booking a job because your business isn’t in order.

Success is 90% preparation and 10% perspiration. – Louis Pasteur

Cover photo via Oscar Gama NYC

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