John Carnessali Syracuse Portrait Studio Photographer | Headshot Tips for Actors, Models and Performers

Headshot Tips for Actors, Models and Performers

May 08, 2012  •  Leave a Comment


Actors, Models and Performers Tips For Getting The Most Out of Their Heashot/Portfolio Photography Session

For business photos, please see my page of "Headshot Tips for Business Portraits".


Syracuse Portrait Head Shot Photographer


















Over the many years of being a professional photographer, I have became well aware of the importance of conveying interesting facial expressions while being photographed. During this time I have been honing this craft of coaching my subjects to produce both realistic and flattering facial expressions and images.

During our session, I will teach you to bring out the subtleties of the human face that attract us to certain people and images. It is my goal to bring out the best in my clients and the most beautiful, creative and powerful photographs of themselves that they have ever experienced.


Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor's, Models and Musicians. .


One of the most important things is to share your intentions for the photo session. Let me know what kind of look you want.

Don't be afraid to practice at home in front of a mirror. Practice poses and expressions... especially true for models looking to build a portfolio.

Do not drink alcohol or take any drugs directly before or the night before your shoot.

Drink lots of water and be well rested (so your eyes will not have dark cirlces).

Arrive on time.

Actors: think about "characters" you might portray:

  • The good guy or girl
  • The popular guy or girl
  • The guy or girl next door
  • The bad guy or girl
  • The professional guy or girl

If you are looking for a general headshot which is not specific to any role, then bring your smile as well as your more serious looks.  We will explore everything inbetween!


Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor's, Models and Musicians. .


What to wear:

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel great
  • A simple black shirt/blouse/dress is often a good option
  • Avoid white shirts unless you plan to wear it underneath something (especially if we will be shooting against white background).
  • Darker clothes attract less attention and put the attention on your face and eyes
  • Solid colors are great
  • Avoid busy patterns and large lines or stripes
  • No glitter!
  • Blue/green/turquoise clothing can help emphasize blue/green/hazel eyes
  • Avoid red as a dominant color
  • For multiple looks, bring a variety of clothing that emphasizes different roles/characters (professional, blue-collar worker, intellectual, sexy, etc...)  This is especially true for models looking into building a portfolio.
  • A suit or jacket are great for men wanting a more professional look, but feel free to bring a few outfits especially if you have booked a longer session.
  • Clothes should be neatly ironed.
  • Pay attention to details. Layers, ties, belts etc
  • Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Bring a variety different shirts/blouses to see what works best
  • Don't worry about shoes too much unless you specifically want a full-length look.
  • Don't bring 4-5 of the same-style shirts in different colors. Bring variety of styles!
  • Bring a few extra oufits so we can choose what looks best on you at the shoot
  • Avoid logos or branding!!!
  • Again...No glitter!

REMEMBER: Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Select something that makes you look good.


Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor's, Models and Musicians.



  • Keep jewelry extremely simple - smaller is generally better
  • Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face
  • The photo is about your face not your jewelry

What to bring:

  • Your previous headshots (so we can improve)
  • Samples from magazines if you have not emailed me with some, or other headshots to help communicate the look you want
  • Favorite Music (CD or iPod/MP3 player)
  • Various changes of clothing (see above)
  • Good attitude
  • Lip balm
  • Hair brush/comb
  • Makeup and hair products you prefer (especially if you have allergies)


Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor's, Models and Musicians.


Arrive with:

  • Hair styled and makeup already applied (if not using makeup artist)
  • Nails manicured
  • Already dressed in first outfit

Hair and Makeup Tips:

  • Make-up should be clean and natural.
  • Wear a heavy layer of translucent powder - your face will appear flawless in photos. Shine disappears, pores seem smaller, skin looks even, and blush is smoother.
  • Men may want to put on make-up as well - base, concealer, and powder for the shoot. It is best to obtain your own so it is specially matched to your skin tone.
  • Line lips before applying matte lipstick, then reline. Don't overdo it.
  • Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine since they will reflect light.. not as important if we are shooting outdoors, but very important if shooting in the studio
  • Avoid frosts or garish colors.
  • Don't get a new hair cut just before the shoot (you may want to let it grow-in a bit or get used to styling a new cut).
  • Do not try/use any new product on your hair, face or body the day before or few days before your shoot.
  • Avoid over-styling
Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor's, Models and Musicians.



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