October 9, 2017

10 Tips for a Great Headshot

Best Practices for the Best Headshots.

I received a special request from a lovely friend for a headshot makeup tutorial and, being somewhat of a people pleaser, I obliged.  Headshots can usually be broken up into two categories, artist and corporate.  While I truly think all headshot makeup should lean toward the natural, the corporate side might be more inclined to do a bolder look.  In this video, I show the more natural “your face but better” headshot makeup look, but you could easily smoke out the lash line and do a bolder lipstick and be set for your corporate photos.

Charlize Theron, headshot

Gorgeous “headshot” style photo of Charlize Theron.

1) Keep your makeup natural.

When someone asks for a headshot from you, they don’t expect to see the most fleek-tastic, chiseled to the gods,  YAAAAAS version of you that you take selfies of, they want to see the real you.  It’s really easy to overdo it on makeup and, as a result, have your headshots come back looking ridiculous or even fake.  You can still smoke up that lashline and wear a brighter lipstick, just leave the cream contour and sparkly highlight at home.

2) Always opt for natural lighting.

Most photographers will want to do your headshots outside.  It’s more exciting, there’s more room for spontaneity in the shoot, and the lighting is absolutely amazing.  That being said, sometimes weather gets in the way or it’s just more convenient to do your shots in the studio.  If you do end up going the studio route, just make sure you apply your makeup a touch heavier than you would in an outdoor setting.

3) Hire a professional photographer.

Yes, technically, you can ask  your nephew with the cool camera to take pictures of you in the park, and occasionally you might get an okay shot out of it, but by and large, the photos you receive will not look professional and will not be properly edited.  Do it right the first time and spend the money on a real photographer.  You may even be able to round up a bunch of people to go in on the shoot with you so you’re all splitting the fees.

Mariah Headshot

Makeup – Me
Model – Mariah

4) Be sure to bring your panic bag.

You will most likely need hairspray, a brush or comb, mattifying powder, lipstick or lip balm, and any bobby pins or other hair accessory you might need.  Also consider bringing water and kleenex with you, allergy tears can mess up eye makeup really quickly.

5) Practice posing in the mirror and figure out your “best side.”

No, seriously, everyone has a best side.  This is more about gaining comfort in the way you position your body.  I must emphasize, I don’t want you to vogue, I want you to practice lifting your chest, rolling your shoulders back, figuring out how to angle your hips to get the smoothest line, and lifting your chin slightly up and out to avoid having a double chin (this is called “turtling”).  When it comes to the day of, you might find yourself doing these things naturally.

Unedited Headshots

My entirely unedited headshots featuring clean and natural makeup that enhances the structure of the face.

6) Bring extra clothing options and keep the styles timeless.

You know those old family photos where all the women were wearing bi-level bangs and acid-wash jeans and all the men had poofy hair and giant wire-rimmed glasses and you immediately knew it was in the late 80s without asking?  We are trying to avoid that scenario with your headshots.  It’s best to choose classic pieces that fit you well so that, no matter the year the photo is viewed, the attention is on your face, and not your dated fashion. Also, best to avoid patterns or textiles with a sheen.  That cut crease and winged liner with lots of highlight on the cheeks and nose?  Yeah, in 20 years that is going to look incredibly dated, leave it for when you’re done with your shoot.

7) Seriously, keep makeup on the natural side.

It can’t be overstated.

8) Make sure you enjoy talking to the photographer.

The best shots you’ll get will likely be because you and the photographer were joking and having fun during your session. A good headshot should show the subject looking relaxed and natural, not forced.  Think “that candid on Facebook that I magically look amazing in so it’s my profile photo for everything” not “awkward Junior High prom in front of a fake sunset.”

Moody Headshot

A Moody Headshot.
Makeup & Hair – me
Model – Claire

9) Create a mood board.

This is for if you’re hiring a photographer on your own and you don’t have to split the time with other people. Look up “good headshot images” to get a feel for what makes for a good headshot and what style you like.  Try to make sure all the photos make sense together; for example, you wouldn’t send a golden hour portrait and a lifestyle photo of a family on a white couch in the same mood board because…you know…that makes no damn sense.  Get a strong feeling of what you would like in your headshots and make sure it fits the purpose.  You can go moody if you’re getting a headshot for a press release of your new band, you can’t go moody if you’d like to be a Disney princess in the next live action movie.

10) Do not rely on photoshop to make your headshot good.

Do the prep to make sure you look polished.  Iron your clothes, remove the pet hair, style your hair and take care of fly-aways, make sure your makeup looks good in whatever lighting your photographer will use.  The more you do on your end, the better the photo will be.

Products listed in the video:

Sonia Roselli Waterbalm –
Face Atelier Lip Putty –
Milk Makeup Highlighter Lit –
MAC Correct & Conceal Palette –
Graftobian Foundation Palette –
Urban Decay Naked Pressed Powder –
MAC Paint Pot Painterly –      Promo Code: MAGICLINKS350 for $3.50 off $15+ spend
Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow Singles Orange Soda –
Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow Singles Fawn –
MAC Eye Shadow Brown Down –
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Duo Taupe –
Benefit Gimme Brow –
Loreal Waterproof Voluminous Mascara –
Benefit Hula Bronzer –
Hourglass Ambient Palette –
NARS Satin Lip Pencil Rikugian –
elf Extra Lip Gloss Michael –

That’s all I got, folks.  What advice do you have to add?

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