Blog Headshot Tips, News and more...
Taylor Hooper Photography now has an Official Youtube Page, packed with videos on all things headshots! Check out my videos on Headshot Homework, Preparing your Skin, and even how to be more photogenic in your shots! And if you have any questions or suggestions for future videos, please don’t hesitate to contact us either by email or in the comments of our Youtube videos!
Below are a few links to articles with great headshot tips so you can get the most out of your headshots session.
- HEADSHOT HOMEWORK
- MORE HEADSHOT HOMEWORK– The Master Class
- WHAT TO WEAR?
- OUTDOOR HEADSHOTS and the WEATHER
- HAIR. How should I wear it for my headshots?
- SKIN CARE. Get your skin ready for your headshots.
- LIPS. Read this everyone! Guys: I’m talkin’ to you!
- MEN’S GROOMING. Everything from Shaving to Makeup – all for my dudes out there!
Below some frequently asked questions, click on the questions to get the answer:
A Family Legacy of Photography
I have pretty much always been interested in photography, but being a professional photographer didn’t cross my mind until pretty late in the game. Both my Father and Grandfather are and were amateur photographers, so it has always been part of my life. I recently looked through some old photo albums of shots I’d taken when I was a kid and up through college.
People not Places
One day it struck me: I seem to prefer shooting people rather than places or things. I’ve always been interested in capturing the moment-, and that’s what I am trying to do as a headshot photographer to this day: my goal for every headshot is to capture real moments in time, filled with personality and inner life.
My Mistakes as an Actor Needing Headshots
I came to New York City to be an actor- and one of the first things I did was to get headshots- and they were pretty lame. They had nothing going on at all! They were pretty pictures, and that’s what people kept saying- “you look pretty” and that was it. And it took my a while to figure out what the problem was. I was so nervous about getting the “perfect headshot” and at the same time trying to be all things to all people- “I’m an actor, I can do anything!” that it just turned out vague and soulless. As a photographer, I always try to bring out what is unique and special to the actor standing before me.
Covering All the Bases
People talk a lot about the variety of my portfolio- “wow you do it all- indoors, outdoors, natural light, studio light, comp cards, dance photography, etc.” I guess I don’t really think about it that way- my goal is to try to give my clients the widest variety possible within what is 100% right for them and their personality. I like to play around with options so that my clients walk away with every base covered.
Men! It’s time to step up your grooming game! If you’re not already, it’s time to do the following:
-Exfoliate: This is a vital step that will help make your skin look great on camera. Use a gentle soap like CeraVe and a washcloth or, even better, an exfoliating pad to sluff off that outer layer of dead skin.
-Moisturize: I recommend using an oil free moisturizer with SPF (Neutragena makes a good one but there are also store brands that are great as well). You need to do this everyday, it will keep your skin looking younger longer and make a huge difference in front of the camera.
-Lip Balm: Wear it! Chapped lips are very tricky to retouch, so protect your lips every day with your favorite lip balm and every night before bed try putting on Vaseline or Aquaphor for extra healing at night. If it’s too late and your lips are super chapped, DON’T WORRY, here’s a couple of tips to fix the issue — Method 1.) Layer on a bunch of Vaseline and let it sit for 20 minutes, then use an old tooth brush to exfoliate and get rid of the dead skin. Method 2.) You can also use brown sugar and olive oil the same way- the brown sugar works as an exfoliant.
-Shaving: It’s important to have a shaving routine that works well for you. My process is this: 1.) Exfoliate, this softens the beard and makes the shave smoother to reduce irritation, 2.) Use a good shaving cream- I love Jack Black Supreme Cream, it’s pricey, but for me it’s the difference between hamburger neck and a smooth clean clear skin. 3.) Moisturize: you just stripped lot’s of oil from the skin while shaving, so moisturizing with help that and it will also help protect the new tender skin you’ve exposed from irritation.
Guys especially seem to over look this detail in day to day life but trust me: It makes a big difference in a headshot. Lips are one of the hardest things to retouch and keep looking natural. Severely chapped lips can even ruin a headshot session. If you have chapped lips, you’ll want to try and take care of that before your shoot.
Here’s a great last minute trick I learned from reading one of the the late, great Kevin Aucoin’s books on makeup:
● Cover your chapped lips liberally with Vaseline
● Let them sit for 15-30 minutes
● Gently brush them with a tooth brush
● Repeat if necessary
It sounds weird, but the Vaseline will soften the dry, dead skin while the “brushing” exfoliates them leaving behind fresh, new, photogenic lips. Just be careful not to overdo it!
Even better: Before it gets to this point, put a little Vaseline or some other lip protection on your lips every night before bed and then as needed through out the day. This will help make sure that when it’s time for your headshot session, your lips are as ready as you are.
SOME THOUGHTS ON SKIN CARE
As most of you know, I’m sure, good skin is essential for careers on stage or in front of the camera in New York City or Los Angeles. Makeup can do a lot to cover all kinds of blemishes and imperfections, but if you have ever seen a television show in HD you can spot troubled skin a mile away. It is extremely important to have a solid skin care regimen in order to keep your skin looking great through long days of shooting and layers upon layers of makeup. The same rules apply to getting headshots. Makeup and airbrushing can cover most skin issues, but the better your skin looks naturally, the better your headshots will look overall. If you are not taking good care of your skin, now is a great time to start!
Here are a few tips:
● If you are currently washing your face with Ivory soap–or anything resembling ivory soap or hand soap–STOP right there!! That abrasive soap will dry up your skin causing more dull, dead skin and breakouts. Instead try using a gentle moisturizing cleanser like Cetaphil. I am also a fan of products by the brands Oil of Olay and Neutrogena. Ladies, don’t go to bed with make-up on! That is skin care sin #1. Gentlemen, if you can wash your face once a day in the shower that is a great start. In New York City, is it especially important to wash your face everyday due to the air/street/subway pollutants.
● Exfoliate: Exfoliation is crucial to having a fabulous, glowing complexion. By sloughing away the dead skin, the makeup will go on smoother and your skin will have a natural glow. Gentle is a key word here. The simplest way to achieve this is to use a washcloth to gently scrub your skin as you are washing with a moisturizing cleanser. There are also many products on the market that you can get at the drugstore: St. Ives Apricot Scrub is a good and inexpensive option. I am a fan of Bliss Pore-Perfecting Facial Polish that you can get at Sephora. Origins and the Body Shop also have great facial scrubs that work well. Taylor and I also recommend Loreal Advanced Revitalift Micro-Dermabrasion Kit as a more comprehensive option. Try to exfoliate your skin at least one a week or the day before your come in for your shoot. DO NOT, however, use a product you are NOT familiar with for the first time the day before your shoot. You want to test products like this (and read the labels and warning fully) especially if you have sensitive skin.
● Moisturize: Keep your skin moisturized by using a good facial lotion that suits your skin needs. Again, I really like the Olay products. Especially the Complete Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15. If you have oily or acne prone skin, get an oil-free moisturizer. As an actor, model, or performer of any kind it is very important to wear SPF every day. It is the only true, proven, non-surgical way to prevent wrinkles! (in addition to not smoking)!
● Drink water: Guzzle the water. If you are drinking tons of water–you WILL be able to see a difference in your skin.
● Sleep: Try to get lots of sleep the whole week prior to your headshot shoot. If you tend to have dark circles under your eyes, sleep is especially important.
● Acne: For acne spot treatment, I love Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. It is amazing and available for purchase online or at Nordstroms Department Stores or Henri Bendel in New York City. Proactive Solutions is also a great over the counter product for more serious acne issues. If you have really serious acne, we recommend seeing a dermatologist.
Thanks for taking the time to look this over! I hope that it is helpful to you prior to your headshot shoot.
In your headshots your hair should look like it does when you walk into the audition room, it’s as simple as that. So I always recommend that clients come to their headshot session with their hair done as they would wear it to an audition, or a nice occasion. This is easier said than done. In person, fly always aren’t as noticeable. The way you tuck your hair behind your ears, the way it moves and adjusts when you move doesn’t make much difference in the over all impression of the hair style. But a headshot is one moment in time and suddenly the way you tuck your hair behind your ear makes the viewer’s eye go to your ear. Or your long hair falling behind your shoulders looks like you have a shorter hair cut. Or if you are used to wearing your hair pin straight everyday, suddenly you’ll feel like it looks to flatter your headshot. First of all it’s important to have a hairstyle that you love, and that you feel good about. If you have no idea where to begin, look at magazines, TV, movies, people on the streets of New York. As an actor in New York’s competitive market it’s important to have a look, and a style that says something about you, and the types of roles that you can play. Look at working actors that are your general type, and while you shouldn’t copy their look, you could take ideas, and adjust them to what might work for you. Play around with different styles and see what works best with your overall look.
WHAT TO WEAR IN YOUR HEADSHOTS? – Headshot Tips by Taylor Hooper: Headshot Photographer, NYC
What to wear in your headshots is one of the most important things to think about before your session. Clothes should enhance and not distract; say something about the characters your are right for, but not look like a costume; show you off at your best, stand out in a pile of head shots; and finally show your personality. Look at my portfolio and other resources and see what you like about the clothes in headshots that jump out to you. Think about what outfits you have that make you feel hot, get you lots of compliments, or that you wear for auditions. There are no rules in my book, but some of the guidelines below might make it easier to choose from your wardrobe.
1. SIMPLE: The simpler the better, we don’t want the clothes to distract from you and your personality in the shots.
2. FITTED: This is most important! Tailored, fitted clothes photograph best! Baggy, flowy, blousey clothes will make you look heavier in the shots.
3. CRISP: In a perfect world we would prefer clothes to be brand new- but washed once. So that it isn’t straight out of the package, but also isn’t faded or distressed. I recommend having everything you bring professionally cleaned and very well pressed/ironed. Bring your clothes on hangers if possible. Wrinkled clothes photograph very messy and are distracting. *Dress/button up shirts MUST be ironed as crisply as possible (pressed professionally is ideal) or they may not be usable.
4. COLORS/PATTERNS: Blacks, browns, and vibrant colors (yellow, green, red, bright blue) all look great in headshots. Solid colors are best. Bring at least one color that matches or brings out your eyes. Patterns that are bold but not busy can work- stripes, gingham, bold polka-dots, stuff like that can look pretty cool.
5. LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS: Layers look GREAT in shots- especially for men. Bring a variety of shirt styles and layers that can go on top. Blazers, jackets, hoodies, sweaters are all good choices.
6. JEANS: Bring a pair of nice-fitting jeans. They look great, plus, having pockets gives you something to do with your hands in the shots. So make sure that your jeans actually have pockets- jeggings I am talkin’ to you! This is especially important for women.
7. T-SHIRTS AND TANK TOP: Ladies- please bring at least 1 tank top (if it’s spaghetti strapped make sure you have a bra that works well with it- like a perfectly fitting strapless that doesn’t show through at all), even if you don’t like your arms or shoulders. You might be surprised at how flattering they are in headshots! And if you don’t have any new tank tops in your drawers, head to H&M, Uni Qlo, or Forever 21. Men- Bring a couple t-shirts, V NECKS tend to be more flattering than crew necks. And if you don’t have any FITTED, SOLID COLORED NEW t-shirts (Preferable v-neck) head to Uni Qlo, Old Navy, or Express for men.
8. BELTS: Bring some belts- ladies especially. For the ladies they can look really nice over a dress or cardigan to make it look a little more on trend- and cinch the waist in a little bit.
9. AVOID: Busy patterns, baggy clothes, and jewelry/accessories. Pastels don’t usually work- richer colors photograph better. Cardigans don’t usually work for women unless you are trying to look more matronly, conservative, or a bit older. Cardigans VERY rarely work for men. Although they are very trendy right now, they do not always translate well in headshots.
If there is something that you really love that doesn’t fit the guidelines, bring it and we can try it out!