The Do’s and Don’ts for the Perfect Headshot

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Everyone has a preference, a specific idea of what they like and don’t like. While that may be just fine when ordering your dinner at a restaurant where you can pick and choose what goes on your salad, it works a little differently when taking head shots. After years of experience in the photography world, I’ve learned there are some very simple rules to getting the right shot that get overlooked on a regular basis by my clients. Here are your “do’s” and “don’ts” to the perfect headshot:

DO:

Hire a hair and make-up artist:
Time and time again, clients will come in for a shoot and do all their primping on their own. While they may look great in the mirror, what shows up on camera can be much different. That’s why I highly recommend hiring a professional who knows exactly how to style you for the lens.

Arrive clean-shaven and showered:
I know, this sounds like an obvious one but it’s surprising how many times this isn’t taken into consideration. Every feature, every hair and every detail is enhanced on camera. Always arrive to the shoot freshly shaven and ready to knock ‘em dead.

Bring wardrobe options – more is better:
Clothing options are key to a good executive shoot. I recommend bringing lots of choices, especially collared fitted shirts. For men, polo shirts are great for a casual look and button-downs photograph well for an executive. Women photograph well in fitted button-down shirts or dresses. But make sure you bring clothing options you feel confident wearing!

Get enough sleep before your session:
A commonly overlooked detail is how rested you are on the day of your shoot. The camera catches everything, including how well rested you are. Even if your skin is flawless, little wrinkles show up when you haven’t gotten enough beauty sleep. So, get some solid shut-eye before your shoot and you’ll photograph like a star.

RELAX!
Like I was saying, the camera catches everything. It even picks up on your mood, no matter how hard you’re smiling. Rest assured that if you feel cool, calm and collected, your photos will reflect that. And for anything else, don’t worry – I can retouch.

DON’T:

Be in a hurry:
Shooting executives and busy professionals can be stressful. They’re either planning a meeting or running out the door to an appointment. I suggest to plan accordingly for your shoot. An appointment with me usually takes up to an hour, and I guarantee you’ll shoot leaps and bounds better if you’re present than if you’re already one foot out the door.

Show up hungover:
Being fresh-faced and rested is pivotal to your photos. I’m sure that if you had a few too many the night before, you won’t be excited to pose for an hour the next day. Be sure to get some good rest, stay hydrated and cut back before your session. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t drink during the shoot:
While having a drink to loosen you up on the set of a shoot might sound like a great idea, it doesn’t turn out too well. The camera picks up even the slightest redness in a person’s eyes and the flushing of their skin. It’s best to stick with water instead of a glass of red.

Over-do it: less is more:
Going back to the tip above about hiring a hair and make-up artist: less is more. When they’re getting you ready for your shoot, they’ll know exactly how much to do and when to stop. This rule is especially true for your clothing. It’s best to stick with simple, basic options so the attention is drawn to your face rather than the print on your clothes. Think basic, think plain. Let your features be the focal point.

Run the show:
Let the photographer lead you during the shoot. Many times, clients will try to position themselves like they would for a picture on Instagram, but those poses don’t translate into a headshot or executive portrait. Take direction and have fun! It’s just a picture, after all.

End note: Don’t settle on your choice of photographer. Give me a call and make an appointment today.

5 Tips for Finding an Agent for Your Child

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One of the most common questions I get as a photographer is how to make the leap from acting as a hobby to as a profession. When it comes to a child wanting to be on TV or Film…the task can be a challenge. In the entertainment business, getting signed by an agent to represent them is key. Agents receive the casting “breakdowns”, then submit their represented talent to the casting directors, and bring forth auditions. In the broadcast or commercial print industry, especially for children, success is based mostly on personality and physical appearance.

1. If your child shows interest in acting, sign them up for a class. This is the first step to see if they really want to do this, or if the desire will fade once things become more structured.

2. A professional headshot is an actor’s calling card. If your child is 10 or older, he or she needs one. This shows me that the child/parent is serious, and willing to invest in their professional career. Headshots don’t have to cost a fortune, and if a child is on the younger side, good digital pictures are fine. Make sure the photos are clear and UPDATED!

3. Contact agencies and ask for days they conduct open calls. This is a great was to get in front of an agent. Be sure to have your child in an on-going acting class. On-going education is also key in this industry. If one agency turns you down or you don’t hear back, don’t give up. It’s all about being aggressive and persistent.

4. Talk to everyone you know. We do meet a lot of kids through referrals, and someone you know might be involved in the business or know someone who is. Just like looking for a job, finding an agent is about networking!

Minimum Agency Height Requirements for Models

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While some girls and guys dream of being a fashion model from the very first time they pick up a fashion magazine or see America’s Next Top Model, the harsh reality is that this is an occupation and, and like any job, there are VERY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS. Unfortunately, unlike a lawyer or even a actor, some of the requirements cannot be learned, purchased, or faked. I’m not writing this to be negative or to break hopes and dreams. Agency Requirements are driven by clients who book fashion models. These requirements are not completely based on customers being more likely to buy clothing from models who fit a certain size range or look. Models have to fit into the sample sizes from the client.

Here are the Minimum Requirements Height requirements for submission to modeling agencies:

FOR GIRLS: 5’9 to 6’ ft.

FOR BOYS: 6’ to 6’3 ft.

This is the most likely the most frustrating requirement for most aspiring models to deal with because you can’t change your height. Working in this industry for over 10 years, I would suggest if you have a face of an angel and an amazing look. You should look in to acting. If you are dedicated and get the proper training…you could have an amazing career and make some really good money. Best of luck on your journey!

Steps for Better Product Photography

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For brands and businesses with products to promote, the quality of their photographs is key to a successful promotional campaign. Cameras have a way of underexposing images particularly when they are placed on a light or white background. The best way to achieve clear and vivid images is to utilize your manual exposure settings and adjust your shutter speed.

There are photography methods that professionals use to capture products in the clearest way possible. If a potential customer or client views a brand’s product page and the items are dark or fuzzy, it gives the appearance of a less than professional service or mediocre product line.

By following the tips below, you can create product photography that stands out above your competition.

Know How to Focus Your Camera

Before beginning to take product photos, make sure you know how your camera works. Before beginning to take any photos, become familiar with all of your camera’s settings and learn how to focus your camera. It is a waste of precious time to take unappealing photos that appear amateurish that you will have to spend time editing.

When Taking Close Ups Use the Aperture Priority Mode

When taking product photos you will want the largest area of your product in the camera’s focus. Set your camera’s aperture priority mode to its highest setting. When you are capturing close ups of your products, the aperture mode setting becomes highly important when it comes to taking a clear, quality photograph.

Utilize Your Tripod

One of the most important things to remember when taking product photos is the use of a tripod. A tripod holds your subject perfectly still so that the camera can capture a true representation of the product. Without a tripod, any slight movement of an object will result in a less than stellar photo.

Use Your Camera’s Flash Sparingly and Use Natural Lighting As Much As Possible

Your camera’s flash will rarely give you the type of lighting you need when taking close up product photos. For most product photos, the use of natural lighting will result in a clearer, more detailed picture. When possible take photos outdoors in natural light. Overcast days are perfect for taking product photos. If taking your pictures outside is not doable, get yourself a photo tent for indoors. A photo tent is the next best thing to capturing a product in natural lighting.

Edit Your Photos with Software

Technology has provided us with many ways to create the perfect photograph. Once your product photos are taken, use editing software to make your photos clear and professional looking. There is plenty of photo editing software online that will offer you the choice of various tints, backgrounds, and special effects, to make your product photos look like art.
 

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Important Questions in Photography: Where is the Subject Looking?

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The eyes are a very captivating part of any portrait. When onlookers see that they are looking at something, they will be curious as to what it is. So how does where they are looking impact the picture?

Where they are looking in the photo can make a difference as to how it’s viewed or received.

Here are a few examples of this:

If a child is looking at a plate of cookies, the viewer may be pulled into a sense of longing, and the cookies would ultimately become the focus of anyone who saw it.

If you saw two people looking at each other, you would get the sense that they were in a relationship or that they were close with one another.

If you saw there was only one person in the photo, and they were looking away from the camera, then the onlookers might want to know what it is they are looking at.

Looking Away From the Camera

You can either choose to have an object in the shot that the subject is looking at, or you can choose to leave that off screen. Both of these options will give a different emotional meaning, so consider this when creating the shot.

Also, if you chose to have an object within the shot, it will most likely become the focus of the shot. If you’re looking to highlight the person, then you might want to leave the other objects out.

Looking At the Camera

When your subject is looking straight at the camera, there isn’t really a choice but to focus on them!

Be aware that having such a direct gaze can be somewhat strong and has the ability to create tension. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind when creating the shot.

Take a moment before posing to consider where the subject is looking, and what sort of effect this might have on the shot.
 

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Headshot Tips For Actors

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An acting career is challenging, no matter how you look at it; and there are certain tips and techniques that aspiring actors should know, to make the road to success a bit smoother. Too many actors fail in the area of having a professional looking portfolio. They rely on basic family photos and selfies to do the trick. But when you are in front of a reputable agent, you will need to have headshots that are polished and refined. But how do you know where to go, or how to prepare?

First things first, find a professional headshot photographer. Ask people in the business for suggestions and then check the photographer’s references. After you find the right photographer, follow these highly effective suggestions to take your best headshot pictures.

1.    Don’t overdress or wear too much makeup

A great headshot should look like you, not your doppelganger. Agents needs to see what you really look like in a natural setting. Of course, you don’t want to roll out of bed and head to the photo studio, but you want to look as natural as possible.

2.    Get plenty of rest and a full night’s sleep

The best way to look great naturally, is to be well rested. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before, and preferably, the week before. Partying before a photo shoot is never a good idea. But if you must, beware of consuming too many alcoholic beverages, as they dehydrate you, which can make your skin look dull, and leave you feeling tired.

3.    Practice photo taking at home

Just as you do with all those selfies you post on Twitter; practice makes perfect. Stand in front of your mirror at home and practice your smile and facial expressions. It is best to know what works before you get to the photographer’s studio.

4.    Let the photographer know what kind of photos you need

Communicate clearly with your photographer and let him/her know exactly what you need and how you are intending to use the photos. A professional will then be able to guide you as to the best poses, backgrounds, lighting, etc.

5.    The color black is often the best option

Dress simply and comfortably for your photos. You will want to avoid clothing that you will have to fuss with, like drooping shirt straps, ill-fitting bras, or clothing too small or excessively tight. Avoid wearing white, unless you have a colorful tank top or camisole underneath. A white shirt can drown you out in a photo. Black is usually the best option. A black dress shirt, dress, or jumpsuit, makes your face, eyes, and skin coloring, stand out.

And most importantly, go into the photo shoot with a great attitude. If you are feeling ill, disappointed, angry at someone, or just plain old “out of it”, it is best to reschedule your appointment.
 

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What NOT to Do With Your Headshot or LinkedIn Profile

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Whether its getting your picture taken professionally or just choosing a picture for your LinkedIn, there are a lot of ways that a picture could go wrong and give potential employers the wrong idea.

Here are some ways that your epic-headshots can turn into an epic-failure:

  • Blurry Pictures: No matter what the situation, it just spells amateur.
  • Bad Lighting: Shadows may do well to make some people look mysterious… but this is neither the time nor the place.
  • Tacky Backgrounds: Hellooooooooooo 1980’s!
  • Odd Things Taking Place in the Background: …is that seriously someone doing a shot in the background?
  • Anything That Resembles Facebook Trends: This includes cropping out your friend, holding your chi-poo, or your baby. Some other no-no’s include: messy backgrounds, significant others, and selfies.
  • The “I’m Clearly Drunk” Photo: No further explanation needed.
  • The Action Shot: That picture of you conquering an oversized rock isn’t going to speak well for your risk-taking.
  • The Cubicle Action Shot: We all have phones in our cubicles; so unfortunately working the landline isn’t bound to impress many people.
  • Iffy Black and White: As a disclaimer, it should be said that these can work well for you- if done right. But if you’re using your 1-megapixel camera from 2004, then you probably won’t get it to come out the way you saw it in your mind.
  • The Dwight Schrute Look: You’re allowed to smile in business pictures and relax! Don’t be such a stiff that you tell everyone in one look that you’re that guy that no one wants to talk to!
  • I’m Kind of a Big Deal: Keep the events and talks for your resume- it can rub people the wrong way when they see that podium (made of rich mahogany) in the picture.
  • Group Pictures: This is definitely out as a headshot option, but people should know who they are looking for when they see your LinedIn, as well.
  • The Over-Glamour Shot: Yes, you want to look nice- no doubt! But you certainly have the ability to over do it, as well.

Even if you don’t have a professional headshot yet, these lifesaving tips will help you help you get ahead in the business world with just a glance!
 

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Building a Modeling Portfolio

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If you are aspiring to be a model, one of the most important assets is your portfolio. You will want to aim for quality, not quantity. How do you go about assembling your portfolio? Follow these tips in order to wow modeling agents.

Preparing for a Shoot

The first thing you need to do is get professional pictures taken, if you haven’t already. If you’re not sure who to go with, make some calls and get a feel for the people you could potentially be working with.

Hire a professional makeup artist. This is another time you will want to do some shopping around based on your style or budget, but this is one area you will not want to gloss over.

Take a look through magazines, clothes catalogues, and online to find poses you like. Make sure you practice in front of a mirror. Get another person’s opinion- preferably someone you trust that will give you their honest opinion.

Consider what looks or outfits you’re going for. There should be about three outfits and they should cover a wide variety of styles. Along this same line of thought, keep your hair, skin and nails in good condition. These small details will matter! Keep well groomed, and spend a little extra on haircuts and manicures if necessary.

Take a few extra minutes to inspect your clothes. Are there stains? Are they super wrinkled? Make sure they too are in top shape. Can you say close up?

Two days before the shoot, call the photographer and make sure everything is still on schedule.  The day before however will be all about you. Make sure you eat, sleep, and drink well to make sure you’re looking radiant from the inside out!

Tip: uses skin and facial products you already know that work for your skin type. Nothing would be worse than having a rash the day of your shoot!

At the Shoot

Enjoy yourself! The more you can relax and have a good time, the more that will translate into your pictures.

Make sure your photographer understands what looks and attitudes you’re going for. If you’re stuck, ask for their advice.

After the Shoot

Send thank you notes to your photographer and makeup artist.

Once you have your photos, take a look and sort out the ones that came out better. If you have five that came out great- stop there! This would be much better than having 15 that were just “ok.”

Assembling Your Portfolio

Buy a folder or hardcover book to put the photos in. You want something that will not only look professional, but will protect your pictures from getting damaged. Sort the pictures out based on how you want to be portrayed as a model. You may have to try a few combinations before you find the right one.

As you continue to do more modeling work, keep updating your portfolio. If you have friends who are aspiring to become photographers, work out an agreement to model for them- so long as you can use the pictures in the portfolio.

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Whitening Your Teeth for Portraits

white teethGorgeous white bright teeth are not just the concern of Hollywood stars anymore. Everyone desires to have a photo-ready smile when taking portraits and creating portfolios. Teeth are the first thing noticed in a photograph, and yellowing teeth can turn a successful photo shoot into a nightmare.

For many people however, professional teeth whitening is simply too much of a stretch for their budget. Instead there are effective teeth whitening methods that can be done at home. Here are two of the easiest and most convenient methods to try.

Whitening Toothpastes or Gels

One option is to shop for ADA (American Dental Association) approved whitening toothpastes or gels. Brush your teeth as usual with a small toothbrush, for at least two minutes. Rinse and spit out the excess paste or gel. This method requires you to continue this process, twice a day, for approximately 12-14 days. Read the instructions on the product to be certain you are using the correct and most effective procedure. This method also requires occasional, but continual use.

Teeth Whitening Strips

Teeth whitening strips should also be ADA approved. Read the ingredients to make sure they don’t contain chlorine dioxide. This could damage your tooth enamel. Teeth whitening strips should be made of polyethylene, and can be easily found at most drugstores and supermarkets.

The product will contain two whitening strips; one for your lower set of teeth, the other for your upper teeth. The strips are lined with gel so that they adhere to your teeth. Some strips must be peeled off and others will naturally dissolve. Remember to rinse well after using. Read your instructions to see how long you will need to repeat this process. With most quality strips, your results will last anywhere from 4-6 months.

The best results come from following the directions. For any teeth whitening product you choose, it is imperative that you read the ingredients and the directions, so that you achieve the best whitening results without damaging your tooth enamel.
 

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Getting the Perfect Headshot

headshotNot only actors and models require headshots. Corporate executives are using them to put a face to their companies or their brands.  So capturing the perfect image, one which really represents who the person is, is the goal of every headshot photographer.

Consider doing a little research before you choose a photographer who specializes in doing headshots. Look at portfolios, and talk to others who have used them before making your decision.

When the day comes there are a few steps you should follow.

If the subject is a performer, casual clothes will do, but an executive might wear a suit or some clothes that represent the company. Clothes should not be busy or ornate. You do not want to take away from the face.

Finding a good location is crucial. Most headshots are taken in the photographer’s studio where there is a plain wall or background that will not interfere with highlighting the face. If you must shoot outside be sure the background is not too busy.

Lighting is very important. If indoors use a hairlight for more depth, and if outdoors make sure the light is diffused. You don’t want there to be any shadows across the face.

When choosing equipment, a 90mm lens is probably best as wide angle and mis angle lenses can sometimes distort the face. You want a headshot that is in sharp focus.

For the ladies, make sure that any makeup used is as natural as possible and only enhances the face without changing the look of it. You want the subject to look like themselves.

The eyes are the windows to the soul. Make sure that the expression on your subject’s face truly represents him/her, and creates the impression desired.

If you are a performer you might wish to include a video of yourself.

Headshots tell a potential client or employer who you are, and so they should reflect you. In this case less is more, and the simpler your headshot, the more it will say about you.

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