Secrets for Actors to Ensure Great Headshots: Part 1

March 24, 2016 by Motive Retouching Image for Secrets for Actors to Ensure Great Headshots: Part 1

Here at Motive Retouching, we know it’s our job to touch up your headshots, correcting the little mistakes and inconsistencies while maintaining your natural look, bringing out the best YOU.

But remember, retouching means we make the most of the source material. Whether aspiring talent or working professionals, actors who love their headshots know that everything leading up to the retouching must be done with care in order to ensure the best pictures possible. The better the original, the better the retouched version.

We want you to have the best headshots you can, so we've compiled a list of secrets, tricks, and tips to make sure you love your pictures (from the perspective of actors, clients, industry workers, and our retouchers). 
This is Part 1 of 4.


** Rest up. Get sleep! Not just the day before the shoot, but rather, the week before the shoot. The dark circles under your eyes won't go away in one night. But a few days in a row of solid sleep (target 6.5 - 9 hours) can make a difference.

Of course, we're happy to retouch bags under your eyes, but you'd prefer they didn't exist at all.

** Calm down. We don't judge your "recreational habits," but in the interest of your pictures, it's best to refrain from drinking, smoking cigarettes (or anything else), or using any kind of substances before your shoot. As retouchers, we promise you that we can tell, so other people can as well.

** Know your type(s). New, fresh actors benefit from headshots that put them in easily recognizable stereotypes. Are you trying to portray a high school slacker? A lawyer or business professional? A blue collar worker? An emo kid? How would someone in this group dress? What visuals communicate that these people are who they are? And how can you mimic them?

Don’t go overboard. We do not advise you to wear a stethoscope because you want to play a doctor. But do know that a doctor is more likely to wear a tie than an "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt. And having multiple "types" in one shoot can help you fit multiple roles.

** Prepare your outfits. Decide the "looks" you want well in advance. Choose the outfits, including any accessories. Know the makeup you'll be using. And be sure to dress up in full, including outfits and selected makeup, PRIOR TO YOUR SHOOT.

You want to know how your choices look, what's great, what's too much, what's too little, etc. Do this until you have all your outfits and makeup perfected. This will make you far more comfortable in your outfits, which translates into confidence, which translates into better headshots.

** Focus on the eyes. The eyes may be the most important feature of any person's face. Make sure the colors of the clothes you choose, and even the backgrounds you choose, all bring out your eyes.

** Create chemistry with your photographer. If you can, have a friend take some pics of you in your outfits and makeup, and send them to your photographer before the shoot to get quick feedback. Same with any ideas and suggestions. But don’t bombard the photog, and keep all communications brief. The real point here is that the more together you two are, the better the shoot (and headshots) will turn out.

** Call for backup. Hiring a makeup artist and hair stylist could go a long way towards achieving outstanding headshots. As much as we know about our own styles, they know more, especially as it relates to what looks good to a camera (which is usually different than what looks good to the naked eye).

Of course, we know that not all of our starving actor friends can afford luxuries like this, so at least do a little research on makeup before the shoot. Reading this blog is a good start, by the way.

When in doubt, it's by far better to go with minimal makeup (or none at all) rather than having a non-professional handle it. As retouchers, we can tell you it's way easier to fix blemishes than it is to fix bad makeup.

** Spare yourself the sun. We can't tell you how many bad sunburns we've had to retouch. Clearly, some color in your complexion is good. But so is moderation. Sun yourself as little as necessary, and use sunscreen liberally even a couple weeks before your shoot.

** Tweeze it, tweak it, etc. You have more hair than what's on your head.
- Facial hair. Do you want it there or not? Because the lens will pick it up. This goes for both guys and girls. Be warned that bleaching doesn't hide things well from the camera, especially when light's shining on your face.
- Eyebrows. Keep them in check (unless bushy is your look), and remember (especially men): two is better than one.
- Nose hair. The camera sees this, even though regular people likely don't. We advise trimming it. Just be careful. Also applies to guys and girls.
- Body hair. If you don't want it to show, make sure it's gone. As above, know that bleaching doesn't hide things well from the camera, especially when light's shining. Arm hair, leg hair, chest hair, back hair, bikini line: it all counts.

Check back soon for Part 2 of our series!


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