Green Shirt Studio

Ask a Professional: How to Prepare for Headshots

Ask a Professional: How to Prepare for Headshots

If you’re reading this, it probably means that you are ready to start submitting for auditions and need to book your first headshot session, or maybe you’ve gone through the headshot process and walked away thinking, “Ah I wish that had gone better.”

Getting headshots, whether it’s your first or fifth time, can be a daunting experience, however, going into your session with the right mindset and showing up prepared will help you get shots that represent you best.

Green Shirt’s favorite photographer, Collin Quinn Rice, was kind enough to share their advice with us on how they think actors can best prepare for their headshot session both physically and mentally.

Collin is a self-taught photographer with over four years of professional portrait and theater photography experience and has the added benefit of being an actor, so they’ve seen the headshot process from all perspectives.

From what to expect in costs to what to bring, have a look at what you can expect from your next shoot.

“It’s an investment.”

A headshot is no small feat. Collin charges $300 per session, but some photographers charge as high as $600. On top of that, you might consider paying for a stylist or makeup artist as well.

This means that you’ll want to make the most out of your time with the photographer. If you are looking for stylists or makeup artists, your photographer will have recommendations that match their style and workflow.

Once you’ve found the right services for the right price, you’ll want to find an appointment that works with your timeline.

“Time [your appointment] out so you can afford something that will last you a good chunk of the year.”

It can sometimes take up to a month to get a headshot completed, so plan ahead!

You will want to be prepared for the first few months of the year, which are the busiest for auditions. The industry slows down a lot during the summer, so some actors try to find headshots during that time while they aren’t busy. In fact, Collin is already booked three months in advance, so start looking for a slot as soon as you’re ready! And trust us, you’re ready!

“You don’t have to be perfect.”

Your photoshoot shouldn’t feel like an audition. Collin explains, “You don’t have to prove anything to me. When I’m on the other side of it [as an actor], I feel like I have to perform for the photographer and be like, ‘I’m worth it. I’m worth the money that I’m spending. I’m worth the art form that I’ve chosen. I’m worth the career path of being an actor.’”

In reality, Collin reassures actors that the simple fact that they chose to get their headshot shows that they are already doing great work and feeling confident enough to move forward.

More importantly, when you do have your audition, you might not always be your best self. So don’t stress if you feel like you aren’t bringing your A-game. Your photographer wants to catch you as your most authentic self and will work with you in any capacity to make sure the photos come out as clear representations of who you are.

“I never want the headshot to reflect someone who isn’t going to be in the room.”

A photographer should go to great lengths to make actors feel comfortable with themselves and encourage their subjects to actually enjoy the headshot process. Collin’s inclusive approach involves playing a “style game” to find that perfect wardrobe and shot that reveals an actor’s most authentic self by following a few key steps.

“Bring your closet.”

Every photographer does this part differently, but your best bet is to bring everything that you’re excited about. Bring your favorite audition outfit, plus any clothes or accessories that make you feel confident and comfortable. Collin usually builds three looks with each client, and the more tools that are available, the better.

While the whole closet might seem intimidating when choosing your first look, Collin starts the process with one simple question:

“If you had a general audition tomorrow, what would you wear?”

This usually results in an outfit that can either be pretty neutral or extremely loud in personality, depending on the client. From there, three outfits are crafted by mixing and matching their audition wardrobe to create looks that could be used for commercial, theater, and film auditions.

Getting the actor to feel comfortable and relaxed is crucial. The only way to evoke the actor’s most authentic self is to allow them to use what they already have: themselves!

As we like to say here at Green Shirt, “You are enough!”

That being said, you can’t forget to take care of yourself. Your health will also make an impact on how well you can authentically represent yourself.

“Your face is influenced by your environment so much.”

No one wants a picture taken when they feel ill. Keeping up with some healthy habits ahead of your photoshoot is just as important as bringing in your favorite outfit. Collin says, “There is only so much you can fake with makeup.” When we don’t get the rest or nutrition that we need, our faces will show it. The easiest solution to ensure that you won’t have bags under your eyes or blemishes on your skin is to take care of yourself.

Be sure to get enough sleep, drink enough water for three days ahead of time, and, most importantly:

“Don’t forget to breathe.”

“Just breathe,” Collin says, “It’s something that feels so antithetical to headshots, right? You think about getting your picture taken and every muscle in your body tenses up. But we are actors. We’re performers—we are living, breathing creatures. And capturing that humanity—capturing that motion—to me is way more important than if your jaw or chin are in the perfect position.”

On stage, people see you in motion. You aren’t a tense and rigid statue when you’re performing. Let the photographer capture the stillness, your only job is to be yourself.

Collin’s work can be found on their Instagram @cquinnphotos and you can reach out for your own headshots through their website