There are plenty of things you can do ahead of time to make sure your headshot session goes well.
Meet The Photographer In Person
Meet with your photographer ahead of time. (He or she should do that at no cost). Discuss your needs and find out if this is a person with whom you would feel comfortable. A headshot session can be a very revealing process in which you might feel vulnerable. If you aren’t comfortable while having a cup of coffee with a prospective photographer, keep looking.
When meeting with your photographer, be sure to let him or her know what your “type” is so the photographer can be prepared to shoot you the right way (see What is A Great Headshot?).
Make Sure Your Beauty Shows
Well in advance: Guys, if you want pictures with and without facial hair, start growing your beard with enough time for it to grow in. You can shave it during the session, but it’s tough to grow it the day before.
One week before: Take care of all your beauty treatments (haircut, color, eyebrows, tanning, etc.) so the treatments are fresh but look natural.
72 hours before: Drink lots of water; avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and salty foods; stay out of the sun. Don’t forget to moisturize.
The night before: Sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.
That day: Make sure the clothes you want to wear are clean and pressed. If you’re using a makeup artist, come to the shoot with your face clean and product-free except for moisturizer.
And Speaking of Makeup
Women: Don’t underestimate the importance of makeup for your headshots. The makeup you wear in daily life or on stage is not the same as the makeup you’ll wear for a shoot. So, unless you’ve studied makeup for photography, get your makeup done professionally. A professional makeup artist knows what makeup looks good on camera and will make you look your best.
Men: It may sound sexist, but men don’t usually need makeup. It’s all about expectations. We’re accustomed to seeing women in makeup, not men. So if you do use makeup, it should be minimal in almost all situations. For instance, a little powder (which I provide for my shoots) will eliminate shine.
Unlike makeup, there’s no magic to doing hair for photos. A hairstylist can make your hair look its best for the shoot. But if you hire one, don’t get a hairstyle that’s too fancy. You must be able to replicate the hairstyle when you go for auditions.
Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, give a lot of thought to what image you want your picture(s) to convey. Then practice posing in front of a mirror. You might feel silly, but it helps. Trust me.
Want to learn more? Then read the whole Guide To Great Headshots: