Best Headshot Tips For Your (Models and Talent) Photoshoot

pro makeup artist at work on a model to prepare for headshots

One of the most common questions we get from new models and actors is “Do you have any headshot tips to help me prepare for my photo shoot?” Or “How should I prepare for my headshot shoot?” Preparing yourself for an important photo shoot can be a daunting task. Many models or actors try to crash diet before the shoot, spray tan, or try any number of other “quickie” fixes at the last minute. But the basics of how to prepare for your photo shoot are pretty clear.

Below are some great headshot tips and recomendations from renowned Makeup Artist Mary Erickson (a pro Artist with over 25 years of beautifying talent for Fortune 100 commercial print and video work).

Most professional models know from experience what needs to be done prior to a photo shoot. If you do not have a lot of modeling experience, I suggest you look over the following headshot tips that will help you for this shoot and in the future. The more of these guidelines you follow the better your shots will turn out!

  1. 72 hours before your photo shoot, avoid the following items (these items can give you oily skin and swelling):
    • Red meat
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeine
    • Spicy foods
    • Retin A and Alpha Hydroxy creams (causes skin peeling that will show with photo makeup)
  2. Drink lots of water, carry it with you everywhere you go, and keep sipping.
  3. Exfoliate your skin at least once a week and also the morning of the shoot.
  4. Have your brows professionally shaped and then keep them up by plucking the strays every few days. I will Pluck strays the day of the shoot but may not have time to shape your brows.
  5. It is a good idea to carry your own mascara to the shoot with you. Some make-up artists use mascara with the same wand on several people. This can spread infection very quickly. Unless you know the artist and know that she only uses disposable wands, it’s best not to take your chances. I do use disposable wands!
  6. Dark roots will look even worse in photos. Refresh your hair color a few days before your shoot. If you do not color your hair, try “shades” or a toner just a shade lighter than your hair to make it shine. If you need a trim, do it before the shoot.
  7. Fingernails and toenails should be one length, well-manicured, and the polish should be colorless or French, unless this shoot calls for color.
  8. All traces of makeup should be gone from your skin. All eyeliner and mascara should be gone. Your face should be clean and product free when you arrive.
  9. Do not over condition your hair before a shoot. Do use your regular styling products to make your hair behave, as chances are the hair stylist will not be wetting your hair and not be able to use gels, etc. Your hair must be dry before you arrive at the shoot.
  10. Avoid dry lips by putting Vaseline on your lips before bed and the morning of your shoot.
  11. For body (lots of skin showing) shots, be sure you get rid of tan lines by visiting a tanning booth a few times. Also get rid of unsightly body hair.

If you are paying the artist, feel free to give advice on how you want to look. The photos are yours and you will have to live with them. However, if it is a commercial shoot or a shoot that someone else is paying for, its best to keep quiet on makeup and hair. Chances are the artist knows what the photographer and art director want. It may not be what you prefer, but normally the person paying for the shoot likes to make ALL the decisions.

If you are new at modeling is a good idea to go ahead and let the artist make the decisions, even if you are paying her or him. In most cases they will know what will look better in the photos. They are used to dealing with lights, backgrounds and lens filters with which you probably are not familiar.

FYI, Mary’s website is full of useful information, especially for the aspiring or “up & coming” makeup artists. Check out her extensive Q&A page! And if you want to gauge whether or not she knows what she’s talking about, check out her resumé!

Professional makeup artist Mary Erickson offers headshot tips
Makeup Artist Mary Erickson
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William Morton Owner
William Morton has been a professional photographer since 1991. Now focused on corporate photography, William travels the country providing commercial, corporate, and event photography services.

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