Preparing for a headshot session

I always speak to my clients prior to a shoot. It makes them feel comfortable and I get a sense of who I am going to be working with but there is a downside!

Phone conversations are important but with at times a lot gets lost in translation. It’s 1:31am as I’m writing this so regardless of who you are, thank you for reading this post. I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I promise, it’s worth your time so read on.

I never truly know what I am going to get when I shoot with someone because we are all so different. No shoot is ever the same and I’ve seen all of my subjects bring something unique to the table.

We may not stop to think about it, but we all have different sides and it’s these “side(s)” that we are trying to portray when we get our picture taken. It’s these sides that consist of various emotions that matter the most. Whatever is going on with your face is what matters to me so without further delay, lets talk clothes:

Wardrobe Prep
Nobody really cares about what you’re wearing. All that matters is that you wear it and are comfortable in whatever you’re wearing. If you plan on wearing a jacket that no longer fits, it’s going to show on camera and as expensive as it may have been when you purchased it, let it go. You don’t want to feel uncomfortable during the course of your shoot.

Before I continue, I am not saying that wardrobe isn’t important. It is, but it’s not as important as most of my clients make it out to be.

So, if you were planning on going shopping prior to your shoot, do yourself a favour and don’t spend a penny on new clothes. If you have cash to spare, that doesn’t mean you have to go and spend it. Sorry to disappoint.

If you haven't already, please iron/steam your clothes. 

Wardrobe selection
What you love may not necessarily be the best for the purpose of your shoot. 

Regardless of how many looks your session includes, I strongly suggest you bring additional options for your shoot and please refrain from bringing clothing that have busy patterns/prints or clothing that contains reflective material. If there is a small logo on a piece of clothing you love, I’ll clean it in post.

Basically, keep wardrobe selection simple.

Let’s move on to something I love talking about. 

Think about your shoot
I ask a lot of questions and I have a favourite when working with actors:

“What kind of roles are you looking for?”

Guess what 99% of people say? Nothing. At the most I’ll hear, “Whatever comes my way!” 

I don’t know how I feel when I hear this.

If you’re shooting with me, you’re spending a decent amount of money and I am sure there is a part of you that takes your headshot session seriously. I wasn’t going to get into this but it’s important so I suggest you:

Think about your look.
Think about the casting calls/roles you wish to book.
Think about the roles that you don’t want to book.
Think about actors that may have portrayed certain characters that you simply adore.

I am asking you to think of all of this because it’ll help you get the most out of your shoot. You want a range of emotions/expressions and if you give a little bit of thought to the projects you want to be a part of, you should be able to present yourself accordingly.

I’m asking you to think of all of this for selfish reasons as well. I always want to produce work that contains a certain degree of diversity. Whenever I get a range of looks from my subjects I appreciate it. The work stands out and it makes my job a little more interesting than it already is.

It’s important that you look and feel great during the day of your session so here are a few tips that may help you feel epic on the day of your shoot.

Feel epic
When you work out or engage in some sort of physical activity, don’t you feel amazing? I have seen the difference when working with people who have gone out the night before and those who have woken up early for a run on the day of their session. The idea isn’t to lose weight because you already look great.

The idea is to get that spark, those happy hormones, and get that radiant glow on your face. I work with one of the best make-up and hair stylist’s in Toronto and I’m not just saying that because she’s amazing. She’ll make you look like a million bucks but when you sweat, don’t you feel amazing?

Try to make it happen.

Sleep well
I am not just talking about the night prior to the shoot. I am talking about the days leading up to the shoot. I spend about an hour on each image that I produce after it’s shot. During this time, I retouch blemishes (not scars), unwanted hair and yes, dark circles as well. However, shooting takes a lot out of you.

You may not realize it but you’re going to want to have an ample amount of natural energy during your shoot.

Be comfortable
As far as being comfortable, you’re in good hands. I am the easiest person that you will ever work with. I don’t believe in having an inflated ego or making my subjects feel uneasy for any reason and the same goes for my entire team.

I may update this post from time to time but I think I’ve summarized everything that really matters. I don’t think this post is a guide but more so a series of suggestions.

As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Kabir Ali