Studio headshot of smiling male actor. Photographed by Antonio Carrasco in Los Angeles, California.

Preparing for a Photo Shoot

You have booked your very first headshots photo shoot and now you have no idea what to do next. No need to worry! This very short article will give you tips on how to get the most from your photo session, even if you have never done professional photos. If you have any questions or ideas, don't hesitate to ask me! The best photographs are created when the client and I have a collaborative session and there is good communication. Remember, although I have worked with hundreds of headshots customers, I am always open to feedback that will help me create the exact photographs you need!

Tell Me What You Like or Don't Like

Unlike most other photographers, I shoot both natural light and studio lighting. Also I am able to photograph you either outdoors or in my home studio. This gives you a variety of options for how your headshots can look (and cost!). But you should decide exactly which style of photos you need and communicate this to me before the shoot.

The easiest way to do this is to just grab a couple of images from my previous actors headshots or business headshots and then email them to me and say, "This is what I want." This helps us to be on the same page and helps me prepare for the shoot, in terms of selecting lighting, locations, backgrounds etc.

Also if there's something about my previous photos that you don't like or you know won't be useful, feel free to tell me, so we don't waste time doing that. You never have to worry about hurting my feelings or me being a sensitive artist. I have exactly the same goal as you--creating the best headshots I can for you!

Dramatic photograph of actor in Hollywood

Select and Prepare Your Clothing

I have prepared very short guides on what clothing is best for headshots for actors and for how to dress for business headshots. Make sure that your clothing is ironed and hung on hangers--I can't emphasize that enough.

Bring Makeup and Hair Basics

If you book a makeup artist, you can disregard this. But if you are doing your own makeup or getting your makeup done before coming to the session, it's best to at least bring your essentials. For women, this includes foundation, lipstick and hair product are always good to have on hand. During the photo shoot, your face may start to shine a little or your lipstick may need to be freshened up and it's always better to just do it right during the shoot, instead of trying to clean it up in Photoshop. Men should just bring their hair products and a razor if you want to do both scruffy and clean-shaven looks.

Eat and Sleep Well Before the Shoot

A good night's sleep will go along way towards making you look your best on camera. Yes, I can Photoshop out bags under your eyes, but sleep is always better than Photoshop. Try not to eat heavy foods before the shoot, because that will make you sleepy and may cause bloating. Instead eat a high protein meal and drink lots of water.

A sunburn can damage your skin and look bad in photos

Stay Out of the Sun

There are many reasons why you should never cook your skin under the sun. Skin cancer is no joke. Also, having photographed and retouched hundreds of people over the years, I can always tell which ones are into tanning--their skin usually looks 10 years older than their actual age. Sun damaged skin makes you look older and nobody wants that.

But if you can't resist tanning, at least try not do it just before your headshots photo shoot. You may think it's going to make you look better in photos, but it can actually do strange things in terms of how the camera sees your skin tone.

A professional spray tan is a much safer option for you and your headshots. Also if your headshots package includes retouching, feel free to ask me to warm up your skin tone a little in Photoshop.

Being hungover or under the influence will ruin a good photo shoot

Don't Arrive Intoxicated or Hungover

This should be obvious, but of the hundreds of people that have hired me to shoot headshots, a few of them have arrived drunk or stoned. I understand that lighting and cameras make some people nervous and you might think you need something to relax your nerves. But that's why I go out of my way to make my clients comfortable during the shoot--no chemicals needed.

The truth is that alcohol can make your face bloat up, your skin turn red, your eyelids droop and your face look generally tired. Other substances can cause bloodshot eyes, sweating, dilated pupils and the list goes on. The camera will pick up on all of this. Also try to make it an early night prior to the day of your headshots session. Showing up hungover is never a good look for you!

Professional headshot of real estate agent in Los Angeles, California


To summarize this article, communication is key to creating great headshots that fit your needs. It's important to arrive at your photo shoot on time, well-rested and sober. Also, bring anything you think you might need, including extra clothes, hair styling products and, for women, basic makeup tools such as foundation and lipstick. These simple tips will ensure you are prepared and your headshots session goes smoothly.