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  • Writer's pictureAshanta Artistry

Lights, Camera, Action: Your 2024 Headshot Guide!

Hey y’all your favorite makeup artist and hair stylist here to tell you to book your headshots!! Q1 of 2024 is OVER! We are a quarter of the way done with this year and it is TIME!!! I know production is slow with concerns of the potential IATSE strike but this is the time to STAY READY!!! The worst is getting ready at a time when you need to already BE READY. So book your headshots, reel footage and press kits now to stay ready.

Who should you shoot with?

We already know the importance of a good headshot. But lets talk about WHO you should shoot with. There are so many to choose from and when I get asked, who is the best headshot photographer I have a really hard time answering that question, because the answer is very subjective. I have my favorites to work with from a personality perspective, but I am a firm believer that one photographic approach and eye isn’t necessarily for everyone. So the best way to find the right headshot photographer for you is to do your homework. Figure out how you want to present yourself to casting and agents and compare social media accounts and websites to find the photography style that most resonates with you and your casting.

Does Price Matter?

Yes, of course. BUT the photography style AND price have to match what your looking for in order for the shoot to be successful. You can’t have a vision of photos from photographer A brought to a cheaper photographer B that has a completely different style expecting for your final shots to look like photographer A’s work. You can only expect to have shots that look like the photos advertised on their website and social media platforms. I repeat for the people in the back: Don't expect a subpar photographer to mimic a style you admire from a more expensive photographer. IT NEVER WORKS and you end up paying for it in the end.

Ask others about their experience.

If you are an energy sensitive person, you may need to work with a specific type of photographer.  Some photographers are more directorial than others. Some allow for more movement and play than others. Some have inviting fun personalities and some are kinda awkward but are kind and yet create amazing photos. Open up a dialogue with friends. Ask how their shoot went from more than the final product perspective to gain insight on if the final product is worth the experience.

Long waits to get in with your desired photographer?

Then WAIT! Listen, during the strike, every photographer was very slow! It was the perfect time to get headshots and most actors, even actors that don’t make their living acting, did not use that opportunity to update their portfolio. They waited till the week that the strike lifted to book and then complained about the wait times. DONT DO THAT!! STAY READY so you don’t gotta get ready!! Book your headshots when you know you are GOING to need new ones SOON, not when you need them NOW! If you have the “stay ready” mindset you will have no problems waiting for your desired photographer. Another reason to wait is it costs less!! There’s a reason why your desired photographer is booked. It’s because they are good! So going with a photographer who isn’t going to give you what you want means you’ll just have subpar photos, and you’ll end paying AGAIN when you finally have the patience to book with your first choice photographer.

Retouching anyone?

My opinion on retouching is to keep it light. You do not want your photos to look AI generated which is what happens when you over-retouch or Facetune your photos. Retouching should be done light handed, getting ride of the shadows or extra information these HD digital cameras pick up that you cant really see with the naked eye. Use it also, to remove little friends/ blemishes that pop to say hello on headshot day up but normally aren’t there. Your photos should look like you, how you are perceived in person. And with the right lighting, photographer and ME (your hair and makeup team) you shouldn’t need much.

So what are presskits/editorial shoots anyways?

Your press skit, spec shoot, editorial shoot, whatever you want to call it is a shoot that isn’t a portrait shot. It is a shoot that tells a story! It’s more than just moving one light source around to create shadows on your face. It’s telling a story through wardrobe, setting and lighting.  Portraits are used to let casting know what you look like so you can be typecasted to play a character. Presskits / spec shoots are shots used to tell a story about you the actor and the upcoming project you will be promoting. They are more expensive, more time consuming and a lot more thought needs to go into these shoots. Usually a publicist will use these shots as promotional materials to pitch to magazines as promotion for work the actor has coming out. Since magazines prefer never-been-seen work, you need these shots in your arsenal ready to be uploaded at anytime and you wouldnt post these photos onto any casting site or social media platform until all your content within the published material circuit has been released.

Do you need a reel?

That is a great question that I don’t know the answer to. Every actor that I know that is currently working has a good one. Does that mean that it was the thing that got them their roles? Im not entirely sure about that. Sometimes I think creating and being in that creative space of making something specifically for you, catered to your talents and where you want to be is an act of elevating your energy to claim what you want. It 1000% doesn’t have any downside if it’s a good reel. If anything it just adds more tools into your toolbox and more drops into your manifesting bucket. “Good”being the operative word when describing the reel. If you don’t have the funds for a a high quality team, then it’s best to do without. There is nothing worse than an amateurs reel.

Do I really need to book hair and makeup?

I saved myself for last, the answer is YES! Even if you are good at your own hair and makeup and you may be super picky and not want anyone else doing your hair or your makeup. You still NEED a professional on set with you as a second set of eyes. And no your mom or friend cant do it. Why? Well it’s like having a chef watch over your meal cooking or your kids or friend watch over it. You can give your friends/kids  specific instructions on when to take something out of the over or to add a specific ingredient. A Chef, however knows when something needs a touch extra seasoning, maybe more time, or less heat they know the dance of cooking so well that in their hands the meal will turn out great without worry or instructions. That’s kinda like me. While your friends can make sure every hair is in perfect place. I know when the right amount of out-of-place it takes to make the hair look like it has movement and give the photo energy. While your friends can tell you if a spec of mascara got on your cheek I can see if I the need to suggest throwing the hair up or adding more cheek is necessary to make the shot pop. Yes, it’s an added expense but I promise I’m worth it! My rates can be found here.

To wrap it all up and put a bow on it, stop procrastinating and get your house in order!

Stay ready  ◡̈ .


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