COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT HEADSHOT SESSIONS
Keep in mind that the majority of these questions and answers pertain to commercial and tv/film headshot photography. Let me know if you're interested in another type of portrait session, such as artist portraits or corporate headshots.
How can I contact you to ask a question or to make an appointment?
Email is best: aasnyc at gmail dot com.
How did you get your start in headshot photography?
I've always loved taking pictures. In 2007 I upgraded from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR [digital single-lens reflex] camera simply because I wanted more control over my pictures. I didn't intend to do it for a living at the time. I just really enjoyed photography. I was a student at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and was photographing many of their shows. Once performers and students started noticing me with a camera, I began getting requests for headshots.
Since then, I've taken headshots of hundreds of actors and comedians from all over NYC.
Can I meet with you beforehand to talk to you in person?
Sure, if it makes you feel more comfortable, I can meet for 30 minutes to answer any questions you might have. I am also free to talk on the phone: 917-704-7439.
Where are you located?
I take photos at my place in Astoria, Queens, NY. I have large windows that are ideal for natural light photographs. Once you contact me for an appointment, I'll send you exact directions. It's a 7-minute walk from the subway.
What time should I arrive?
Because I rely on the sun, I ask that between November and February, you arrive at about 11:30 am. Between March and October, you can arrive around 12:30 pm. There are times when people arrive later than that but I ask that it not be too much later. I like to plan for at least three hours of good daylight.
Do you ever postpone an appointment due to weather?
I think I've done this twice in three years. Both times, it was very dark out because of storm clouds. Generally, if it's overcast, it's fine. Any slight changes that occur due to sunlight and clouds are adjusted with my camera controls as we go.
How long does a headshots session take?
Anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours. It really depends on the person. If I know that you only have an hour and a half, I will make it work. I've found that one hour is not enough time for a full session.
Why do you only take 200 photos? There are other headshot photographers who take more.
From my experience, I believe giving you about 200 good shots is more than enough. I actually do take more than 200 but I only give you the best 200. Along the way, I delete any photos that are blurry, where your eyes are closed, or are not composed well. Those don't count towards the 200 I give to you. I'm more concerned with giving you a good number of high quality photos rather than a large number of quickly-snapped photos. I've also found that subjects tend to get tired after about two hours of shooting, and I don't want that showing in your face.
Can we take photos at my place or outside?
Generally I don't do this for headshots but let me know if you want to discuss this.
Can I see what the photos look like as you're taking them?
Yes! I will show you some of them on my camera as we go. I like to do that so I can give pointers about posture and expression and simply have people know what they look like.
What should I bring?
Bring several different tops/shirts. It's fine if you'd like some photos with different pants or skirts, however, I focus mostly on waist-up and chest-up photos. To be safe, wear your favorite pair of jeans, but it's not necessary to bring several different changes of pants.
I recommend anywhere from 3 to 6 clothing changes, but I have no restrictions.
Women: bring whatever makeup and hair products you would use to prepare yourself for an audition. You want to look polished and professional but not overly glamorous. I've heard it said that "you want to look like you on your best day." You may get ready at my place. I'm willing to help you with your makeup and hair at no extra cost. I also have a curling iron if you need it.
Men: bring whatever styling tools you might need.
Feel free to bring whatever music (CD or mp3 player) you want! I can also play any Pandora station you'd like. I will listen to anything and everything.
What kind of clothing is best?
This really depends on the person. Generally speaking, bring a variety and include a few solid-color tops. Colors that tend to look good on everyone are blues, greens, dark grays, purple. Yellow and pink can be flattering on certain skin tones. Black is nice as well but you don't need too many black tops. Prints are fine. Clothing with patterns and designs is becoming more acceptable in actor headshots. If you look great in it and feel great in it, bring it! We can always decide once you try it on. I don't recommend all white, bright red or colors that are very close to your skin tone.
Women: V-necks, scoop necks and boat necks are ideal. Showing a little skin below the neck, tastefully, can be flattering. Clothing with texture (ruffles, lace, folds, etc.) can be an interesting option so long as it's not distracting. You do not need to wear jewelry, although one piece of jewelry can be nice for some photos if you'd like.
Men: I recommend a variety of t-shirts, button-down shirts, sweaters, hoodie, jacket and tie or anything that makes you comfortable. Obviously, if you never wear a hoodie and it's not "you," don't go out and buy one for the shoot. Think about how you want to represent yourself and wear what you like.
I have facial hair. Should I shave first?
It's really your call. If you normally have a beard and would walk into an audition with a beard because that's who you are, then by all means, you should have a beard in your headshots. If you're normally clean-shaven, then you should be clean-shaven for the shoot.
Can I do both and shave halfway through?
Yes. It's up to you how many you'd like in each look.
I wear glasses. Should I wear them for my headshots?
Again, up to you. I recommend shooting some with and some without. If you normally wear glasses, then we should take mostly glasses photos.
If you are able to pop out your lenses, it will eliminate glare and make it much easier for me to focus on your eyes. And I promise, the photos won't look like you popped out your lenses--it's not noticeable. If you cannot pop them out, we can work around any glare.
Can I make a silly face?
I encourage this! And if you don't do it on your own naturally, I will probably get you to make a silly face at some point. It loosens people up (mentally and physically) and makes them smile and relax. And I can delete it right away if you hate it. But you won't hate it.
Do you retouch photos?
Yes, I will retouch up to 5 of your headshots at no extra cost. Each additonal retouched photo is $10 per photo.
How do I get my headshots printed?
I highly recommend Reproductions for headshot printing. They've been doing it for a long time and most people I shoot use them. Visit their site to decide which package is right for you. If you're just starting out, I recommend getting the minimum of 50 prints.
If you'd prefer fewer than 50 prints for the time being, I recommend going to a place like Kinko's or CVS. If you do, I can email you copies with a border and your name at no extra cost.
Note that Reproductions is closed on the weekends.
I've heard casting people talk about "type." What is that?
An overall note, especially for those looking to do commercial work: it's helpful to know your "type" (typical kind of role you'd book based on your appearance) before you get headshots taken. Watch commercials and think about which roles you would get cast in based on your appearance. I'm not saying every piece of clothing you bring should fit into one type of personality, but your type is something to consider when choosing clothing to bring.
If you're just starting out, considering your type actually can be difficult to do all by yourself. If you're new to auditioning, I recommend taking a commercial course and getting input from casting directors and agents. See my links page for some recommended classes.
I've actually taken several commercials courses myself, as well as many classes at the UCB Theatre. I've auditioned for commercials, too, although I chose to stop doing that a few years ago. I am more than happy to share my own experiences with you.
What equipment do you use for headshots?
A Nikon D300s camera with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens.
Have you ever had your headshot taken?
Yes, a few times. I think this is part of what makes me a considerate photographer. I know how you feel. It can be weird to have a camera pointed at your face for a long period of time. I want you to be comfortable. That's my primary concern.
Will you show me your awkward headshot from 1997?