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Your Theatrical Head Shot

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

Long after the set is dismantled, the costumes put away, and the shed swept, your cast photo lives on. It is important for you to spend some time getting your head shot right, so you’ll look your best on photo day.


1. Your Face

A headshot is a high-quality portrait that focuses on your face. Lots of people will be looking at your headshot before you hit the stage. They are used for countless promotional opportunities.


Headshots are shot in colour. Depending on the design of the program, they may be desaturated to mono (greyscale).


Many people think you don’t need to worry about the quality of your facial preparation when being transformed to greyscale… but they are wrong. A well-prepared face will always be your best bet.


Ideal presentation is…

  • Clean shave and well-trimmed facials,

  • Wear your base and highlights, including the men, especially if you have red tones in your skin colour.

  • Highlight your brows and eyes but keep it light and natural. Thick liners and heavy brows make your eyes appear small.

  • Natural lipsticks.


2. Your Hair

Neat hair is preferred.


If you are young and slim, you can get away with tying your hair tightly away from your face. The rest of us are not as fortunate. Our hair needs to frame our face in an appealing manner.

The best idea is to leave it flowing or shaped around the face.


If you have short hair, get it cut before your headshot.


If your hair is ‘flyaway’, stick it down with hairspray as flyaway hair is a nightmare to edit.

For mediums and long hair, bring a brush to your headshot shoot so you can give it a quick once over. Bring a clip as well, as we might do half-styles depending on what I see in the lens.


I might have to touch your hair to shape it into the frame or get you to shape it. We might try a few different things with your hair to get the right look.


Think twice before dying your hair an outrageous colour the day before your shoot.



3. Your Shirt
A good headshot. Looks like Nick and the colours help draw attention to the eyes.

Again, young slim people look good in a t-shirt. Many of us older or larger people don’t present well in a t-shirt. Most people don’t look very good in solid black or solid white. White can wash you out and black can absorb the focus and light.


Simplicity is key. Wear a solid colour that compliments your skin tone. For pale people like me, wear light blues, mauves, and pinks. For darker people, you can wear darker colours and look good.


Large and distracting jewellery are a no-go. This includes facial piercings that may be out of character for the show in which you are performing.


Wearing clothing that is too revealing or ill-fitting can take the focus away from your face.


Remember, we want people to be looking at your face not the colour or shape of your shirt. We want to avoid a strong contrast between your skin colour and the colour of your outfit unless we are going for a specific 'look'.


T-shirts don’t give a nice line to many people’s shoulders and neck. Again, if you are like me and a bit older and have some wobbles around the throat area, a collar or soft cuff is going to work.


If you are on the larger side, a collar that is angular will contrast with the soft lines of your face. People with angular features present well in softer lines.


Whatever you decide to wear, make sure it is sharply ironed and not covered in cat hair or logos.


4. Your Pose
Shayne does not pose well

Having a dirty great lens pointing into your very soul can be terrifying. Many people sit back with tight shoulders and then give me a 1000-watt smile.


When you first arrive and have a seat, I will check you out looking at your features, your hair, your shirt and then get you to try a few things.


Headshots are about your eyes.


Most people, I get to sit slightly sideways then gently turn back to the camera. Your shoulders will be relaxed forward with breath into your chest.


I will say, “See where your nose is pointing? Point your eyes there instead.”


I might get you to pump some air into your arm muscles and get you to cross your arms low.


For every face, we will do a few different poses, so we get the most flattering angle with the time we have.


5. Your Wrinkles and Blemishes

I am from the school where I will take out a few wrinkles here and there, de-bag a few eyes, remove a few blemishes or marks, whiten teeth, but generally you’re going to be who you are. A good headshot looks like you in real life.



In summary.

With the local theatrical head shot, we are not blest with studio lighting and perfect surrounds. So the more you can do to prepare, the better the outcome.


I think taking theatrical head shots is one of the most difficult shoots. No time, rushed environments, and sixty or so cast members, plus crew, plus production team, plus musicians... you get the picture!


· Present your face well with makeup

· Brush and prepare your hair

· Iron a flattering shirt

· I will help you find your pose

· I’ll make you look a lovely version of yourself for the program!


Photoshop and Lightroom can do wonders, but your best assuredness of a good headshot is starting with the basics. And that relies on you!


#headshots #lesliephotographyaustralia #theatrephotography #shayneleslie

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