Recently, I had two friends ask me questions regarding to picking the right photographer, how to prepare before a photo session, and exactly, what defines a good photograph (headshot)?
Well, I'm not an expert, and have been in this industry for only 6 years. But being a future talent agent in training, I have read enough books and went to enough casting sessions, that I seriously think I can offer some good advices.
How to Choose a Photographer?
Besides in review a photographer's website (portfolio) online, you should always meet the photographer in person. It's a meet-n-greet session, where you can explain more to the photographer on what you'd like to accomplish in the photo session. At the same time, you need to see if you can develope a good relationship with the photograher. (Or, they call it "CHEMISTRY") You have to have good chemistry with the photographer, and feel comfortable with him/her around. A photographer's personality reflects in his/her style in photo shoots. (If someone tells me "Make Love to the Camera!" - I think I'd probably end up throwing-up)
Meet at least three to four photographers before you decided on which photographer would be shooting your headshots. Your headshot/compcard is your key to open doors of many oppertunities.
How to Prepare for a Photo Session?
Mirror Mirror On the Wall - Who's the fairest of them' all!
You are, darling. You are.
Pratice makes EVERYTHING perfect. Including how you express yourself.
Understand and feel how your face feels when you do certain expression. What's your best angle? Did wrinkles come when you smile a certain way? How to tone it down a little? What poses will make you look lean and fit? How can you hide that double chin?
I believe that every actors/models who poses in front of a camera, already have an image of how they look in their mind. It's about preparation and muscle memory.
Of course, during the photo session, you should also let yourself OUT, totally let go of any restriction of movements.... free up the expressions. So at the end of the shoot, there will be photos that are 'posed' and 'natural' to choose from.
The day before the shoot - PLEASE - Get Enough Sleep!! Sleep at least 8 hours... And don't drink ANY water two hours prior to bed time. And, avoid alcohol as much as possible. You don't want to look either too hydrated (eye bagggies) or dehydrated.
Before you go to bed, exfoliate your face with facial scrub, this will get rid of dead skin cells, and then use a gentle moisturizer (night cream? serum?) on your face. The morning you wake up, your skin should look more energic. If not, then wash your face with COLD water.
After a Photo Shoot...
Since you see yourself everyday - sometimes, a second or third opinion would help you find the perfect photo to use as your headshot.
You should definately ask the Photographer to help you pick up the best shoots. For example, pick top 5 photos out of 300 that was shot. The photographer would know which photo works, interms of lights, shadows.... (more technique stuff)
Later, show the top 5 photos to your agent/manager, and get feedbacks. (Agents/Managers see talents every day. They know what they look for in a headshot and they will tell you what works for you)
What defines a Good Photographer?
You. Your headshot definately need to look like you. Despite the amount of re-touching done, ir make up used... Eventually, you need to look exactly like your headshot.
Eyes. Your eyes. Your eyes need to make a connection to whoever is looking at the headshot. During the photoshoot, don't just blank-stare into the camera lenses.
Simple. Your photograph should make the viewer focus soley on your face. Dress simple, and don't over-do your hair. No big necklaces or earrings... Get rid of the any distractions. A solid, or a nice print shirt/dress works fine. Add a layer of sweater, or thin jacket is fine, but less pattern the better.
Hrm, yeah, that should be it. Let me know if you have any questions.