As headshot photographers we’ve taken photos of thousands of people over the last 12 years, and there’s one common theme we can’t seem to get away from: most people don’t like having their photo taken. They get uncomfortable. They get nervous. Some have even panicked or cried in the studio. Did I mention we photograph adults?
Therefore our job as photographers isn’t just to set up lights, backdrops, and push buttons on a camera, it’s now to make someone relaxed enough that they look natural, calm, confident, and at the very least not like they’re having a root canal done in their headshots.
After over a decade of getting people to chill in the studio, these are the most common tips we’ve relied on in order to get our clients to open up and reveal their true selves. And to prove they work, here’s a naked photo of Michelle. There is NO WAY she would have been able to take this photo without these tips.
Don’t pose. Models pose and there’s a reason they make as much money as they do if they’re good at it: it’s hard. Trying to find your “perfect” angle on your own is nearly impossible and just looks forced and stiff. Work with a photographer who helps you look natural in front of the camera and gives you direction while looking through the lens to find the best angles and most natural stances and tilts.
Don’t focus on or try to correct the things you hate about photos of you in the past. We can’t tell you how many people will start bugging their eyes out when we lift our camera because “my eyes get squinty when I smile.” If you try to keep your eyes wide open or tilt your head in exactly the same position that made that one photo of you on vacation in 2005 look so fabulous, it will just look fake and forced and like you’re trying to hold in a fart or something. Again, trust your photographer to help you get a natural look. Tell them the things you didn’t like in past photos so they can look out for them and correct things if they see it pop up, but then relax, act natural, and don’t try to over-engineer your facial expression or pose. Every time we get someone to successfully let everything go (usually by saying that if the photo looks like crap it gets deleted), we get the best photos and they stop looking at those individual features we all have and occasionally hate about our faces.
Remember headshot truth #1: know the purpose of the photo. A professional headshot should show you looking friendly, confident, and approachable. Not that you have really skinny arms. If you get too caught up in trying to look “perfect,” you’ll lose sight of the real reason you need this photo, whether it’s a bio photo for your website to attract new clients, or a LinkedIn profile photo for your job search.
Remember headshot truth #2: no one looks at photos of you the way you look at photos of you. A good headshot should have people thinking “man, he looks friendly,” FULL STOP. Nine times out of ten when someone in our studio has said, “oh man my eye/ear/hair/nostril/mouth/cheek/shoulder/top button of my shirt looks weird, we didn’t see it at all. It’s perfectly understandable to have eagle eyes for our photos: we’ve all seen hundreds of photos of ourselves over our lifetime and as soon as we see even just one where our nose looks weird or our eyes look puffy, it’s the first thing we check to make sure isn’t happening with this new photo. But NO ONE ELSE DOES THIS when they see a photo of you. So just make sure you look happy, confident, and friendly, and as long as your photographer is checking for hair sticking up or anything weird enough on your shirt to be distracting, you’re good.
If you’re still struggling with feeling like you look natural in your photos, pretend to be more confident than you are. Do something before the shoot or during the shoot that gives you fake-it-until-you-make-it confidence. There’s science behind forcing yourself to smile when you’re sad: it actually makes you feel happier. So apply that idea to confidence. Stand up taller. Wear that pair of shoes that makes you feel fancy. Get your nails done or put on cologne even those things aren’t in the photo—you’ll feel more put together and camera ready.
In another way to help answer the question, “should I add a hair and makeup artist to my headshot session?” we’ve put together some comparison images. Our hair and makeup artists are trained specifically in makeup for photography, and this will demonstrate how professional makeup looks on camera when compared to how we apply our everyday makeup. Pro makeup for photography is designed to look natural, while enhancing our natural features and pulling focus away from blemishes and irregularities in our skin tone.
In these photos we had two brave volunteers (thank you again, ladies!) start with no makeup, then makeup they applied themselves as they usually do and placed their hair how they normally wear it every day; and then finally, a professional makeup artist applied their makeup and styled their hair for camera. There was no retouching done on these images:
Everyone stop what you’re doing and look at some before and after photos of our studio bathroom! I know it doesn’t sound terribly exciting to most people; but we’re really excited about it.
We wanted the new bathroom to have a vintage feel with a modern twist, to match the look and feel of the studio itself, with its modern conveniences, cool style, and original timber beams.
The vintage door comes from a salvage supply, while the vanity and shelving alcove were custom built using reclaimed wood from our friends at The Square Nail down the street. And a special thanks to our awesome illustrator friend Natalie Nguyen, who designed our custom “how to tie a tie” poster, and our pals at Chicago Sign Systems for printing it!
“I see that I can add a hair and makeup artist to my session… I’m not sure. Should I?” This is a question we hear all the time. And our answer is always, “it’s up to you.” Everyone is different, so it’s up to you to decide what would help you look your most photogenic. For some of us that means a makeup artist, for others, retouching, for others none of those, and for still others (or most of us, really), both a makeup artist and retouching.
But since deciding whether or not to add a hair and makeup artist to your session can be tough, here’s a list of situations where someone can benefit from having a hair and makeup artist at their session:
You’re a woman who barely wears makeup or doesn’t wear any makeup at all.
This one might sound counter-intuitve at first, but you read it right. The reason we recommend a makeup artist for women who don’t wear makeup is because our makeup artists specialize in natural-looking makeup for headshots. They listen to how you normally apply your makeup (or how you don’t apply any at all) and create a look that naturally enhances your features without making the makeup itself noticeable. For example, someone looking at your headshot should find themselves thinking, “her eyes look nice,” not, “that’s some great mascara.”
You’re a man or woman who can never get his or her hair to sit the way you want it to for photos.
Having a hair and makeup artist present at your photo session means having a professional to get your hair in exactly the place it should be, and to make sure it stays where it’s intended for each pose.
You tend to have red, blotchy, uneven skin, or rosacea.
A professional makeup artist will be able to use color correcting and matching techniques to apply concealors, correctors, and foundation for a more even-looking skin tone. It’s the most natural way to get your best skin possible for the photos.
You’ve never liked the way your makeup has looked in past photos.
Sometimes the makeup we wear on a regular, daily basis isn’t best formulated for photography. Makeup artists use brands that photograph best under both flash and continuous lighting, and know how to apply it in ways that make sure it shows exactly as they intend.
You would like the extra insurance for a great photo.
We’ve all been tramatized by photos in the past where we looked… well, not our best. Having a professional stylist at your photo session ensures the best possible chances of a great photo. They will use makeup to make sure your skin looks as smooth and even as possible and your best features at the center of attention. Hot tools and styling products will also be on hand to re-curl any fallen curls, smooth frizz from humidity or add volume in dry weather.
If you have any questions about whether or not adding a makeup artist to your headshot session is right for you, feel free to contact us.
If you’ve been following Organic Headshots for a while now you know that about once a year we offer a discount on in-studio session fees. It’s time!
To celebrate our 12th year in business, you get 20% off session fees for in-studio headshot sessions. That’s right, 12 YEARS! Organic Headshots has been taking awesome headshots for awesome people in business and entertainment for a whole 12 years now, and we’ve been loving every minute of it.
Book an in-studio headshot session between now and April 30th, 2017, and receive 20% off the session fee. The session doesn’t have to take place in that time period, but has to be booked and in our system by April 30th, 2017 for the discount, and you must mention the discount at your session (it won’t be applied automatically). Discount cannot be applied to add-on services such as retouching or a makeup artist.
Thank you for 12 awesome years!
We can’t believe it ourselves, so we’ve got to say it again: 12 YEARS. Thank you so much to all of our clients over the years for continuing to choose Organic Headshots for their professional headshots, corporate portraits, and marketing/press photographs. It’s been a real honor to take everyone’s photos and we feel so privileged to have met so many amazing people in our work. And we’re so excited to kick off year 13 with our growing team. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!