How many times have you seen head shots posted that look nothing like the actual person (the shots may be outdated, inaccurate, or unprofessional)? Having current, professional head shots in the dance industry is a MUST for studio owners, instructors, and working dancers. Do your research and find reputable photographers in your area that are abreast of current trends and industry standards. Invest in quality images; because, in many instances, your head shot will make a first and lasting impression.

 To offer some food for thought, I interviewed two, amazing photographers, to offer their thoughts, tips, and suggestions regarding your head shot experience.

Mitch Danforth, an amazing photographer and jack of all trades, has the following insider tips and suggestions for a successful head shot experience :

  • Be sure to choose a photographer who captures individuals well, not a photographer who just makes people look pretty/sexy/model-esque. Your head shot is *the* physical representation that casting associates with you. Yes, you want to look attractive in your head shot…but most of all, you want to grab the viewer with your own identity/sense of self.
  •  Trust your photographer. Don’t worry about your best angles. Don’t worry about how your hair looks or even whether or not your expression is one that you like. If the photographer adjusts your hair, don’t adjust it further. Let your photographer direct you. That’s the service you’re paying for, after all.
  •  Let go of your insecurities. You may have a zit on your forehead, or you may have a scar on your nose. You may not like how one of your teeth lines up with the others. If you focus on hiding the aspects of yourself that you dislike, they are likely to be pronounced in the end and *you* are likely to be lost. Eyes are the absolute focal point of your head shot, and fear ruins how eyes look in head shots.
  • Don’t get crazy. A head shot is not the time for “flair”. It’s a time to make wardrobe decisions that bring attention to your face and expression. You can wear simple jewelry that supports your image, but steer clear  from anything that pulls attention or creates a world of its own. A good head shot is natural and unguarded.
  • Keep it classy. A camera freezes your 4D reality (3D+time) into a 2D image. Therefore, aspects of appearance that may go unnoticed in day-to-day life become focal points in a photograph. Indicators of depth, such as shadow and focus, bring attention to body shape. Therefore, neck lines should be rather conservative because any shape of the chest is already going to be emphasized by the camera.

Curtis Scott Brown, a well-known dance and theatre photographer, offers the following tips for your head shot shoot preparation and experience:

  • Bring 2-3 tops. At least 2 of the tops should be solid colors; preferably tops that bring out eye color and skin tone.
  • Fabrics with high color contrast, distracting patterns, or shiny surfaces are bad. Fabrics with texture are good.
  • Bring glasses if you have them.
  • Facial Care: Begin with a cleansed and moisturized face. Lip balm is essential. If you have dry lips, wear lip balm all day prior to the shoot. Bring redness removal drops for your eyes if you have dry eyes.
  • Women should wear very light makeup, if any. No makeup is necessary for men. Do not use frosted or glittery make up.
  • Ensure your hair is clean and free of excessive product. Bring your product and you can add more at the shoot if necessary. Bring a comb and hairspray to hold down strays. If you are getting a haircut or new style, plan it no less than one week prior to the shoot.
  • Many shoots offer hair and make-up for an additional fee; if possible, take advantage of this offer.
  • Facial Hair: Women should pay extra attention to the eyebrow and lip area. Do not have services the day prior to the shoot! Guys should watch for unruly brow, nose, and side burn hair. A clean-shaven look is recommended.
  • The Day Prior to Your Shoot: Drink lots of water, moisturize your face, and get lots of sleep to ensure lively eyes and skin. Eat a few hours prior to the shoot and then wait until after the shoot to eat again.

There you have it! These are wonderful tips for planning your next head shot session. Once you have your photo, use it! Make sure it is on your studio website and submitted for casting and work opportunities. I can guarantee you will be glad you have it!

acl headshot pic