Being a Confident Actor: How to Feel Comfortable For Headshots
Being nervous and jittery for headshots is incredibly common, but there’s a way to fight against that.
As an aspiring or working actor, you know the importance of a good headshot. You want the perfect representation of yourself to send to potential agents and opportunities, so you need to get it right the first time.
Getting natural and organic headshots in which you look calm, collected, and totally yourself is a great way to book gigs, but how can you do this when you’re nervous?
While it’s normal to be nervous in front of the camera, as an actor, you need to get over this discomfort as soon as possible. Even if you’re more comfortable on the stage or being filmed, you can’t ignore still photos forever.
We’re here to offer some advice. Next time you’re in the market for actor’s headshots in NYC, keep these tips in mind so you’re cool, collected, and prepared for your photoshoot. Keep reading to learn more.
Don’t Overthink It
One of the worst things that you can do when you’re preparing for your photoshoot is to get too into your head about it. Once you’ve started overthinking the shoot, it’s easy to spiral deeper into anxiety.
Remember that this is something that every actor and model goes through at some point or another, and they all end up with results that they love. This is far less complicated than shooting for a movie or preparing for a stage performance.
When you clear your mind before your photo session, it’s easier to relax and get comfortable when it’s time to get in front of the camera. If necessary, do some deep breathing techniques to clear your head.
Oftentimes, the best way to get a natural photoshoot is by keeping a more neutral expression, react as you normally would to the photographer or your environment, and wearing an outfit that’s neutral but comfortable. No extra thought required.
Consider your photoshoot as a rehearsal for your next role or professional magazine shoot. What do you normally do before putting yourself on stage or in front of the camera?
While you don’t want to put on an “act,” you can use some of the same pre-performance techniques to keep it simple instead of overthinking the headshot shoot itself.
Wear What Makes You Happy
Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to every single headshot photoshoot. Some agents and opportunities warrant certain kinds of clothing. Some want very simple outfits, plain colors, and no accessories. Others are more flexible.
That said, if you have flexibility, make sure that you wear something that you feel comfortable, happy, and attractive in.
We all know what clothes in our closets make us feel our best. There’s an outfit that hugs your curves, accentuates your shoulders, or makes your eyes pop, right?
Don’t be afraid to pick that outfit. If you wear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you won’t feel as good or natural in front of the camera.
Avoid pinchy closures, itchy fabric, or anything that accentuates an area that you consider a “problem area.” When in doubt, bring your less comfortable clothes with you for an outfit change but keep the clothes that make you happy on for your first set of photos so you can get “in the zone.”
Know Your Location Ahead of Time
Are you choosing the location for your photos? Did your agent decide on it, or is it chosen by your photographer?
It’s best to know what kind of environment you want to take your photos in. Are you interested in a studio, or somewhere more natural?
Studio lighting is often harsh. It can make your skin look unnatural, cause a weird shine in your eyes, and be distracting overall. Studio spaces are also often rented by the photographer, meaning that they may feel more rushed because they have a set time slot.
While there are benefits to studios as well, you need to decide if they’re right for you, or if you’d rather be somewhere else that allows flexibility, comfort, and natural lighting.
Regardless, it’s best if you get yourself comfortable with your location before you start your session. Whether you pick a New York City location that you love or you’re encountering a new (but aesthetically pleasing) place, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick visit to the location before your session.
Getting yourself acquainted with the location allows you to find areas that interest you so you can mention them to the photographer during your session.
It also makes it so you’re not in a new and intimidating place right from the get-go. Think of it as a kind of rehearsal for your photo session. When you’re comfortable with your location, you’ll be more comfortable and prepared for your headshot shoot.
Practice Your Expressions
While you might be comfortable with the flexibility of the stage or how your face looks on film, it’s normal to be less comfortable with how you look in a photo. Angles and expressions look different without movement, and some of us know that certain things just don’t work with our faces.
If you’re worried about this, practice your expressions in front of a mirror. Keep in mind that the mirror isn’t quite the same as what appears in a photograph, but it’s closer than some of your other options.
For example, it’s a bad idea to practice in front of the front-facing “selfie” camera on your cell phone. The camera makes you look distorted by default, so try not to measure your expressions that way.
Keep in mind all of the expressions that you might want for your photos. Most headshot sessions include smiles, but if you’re looking for some natural and organic headshots, you may also want to know how your “candid” face looks.
At the end of the day, these expressions likely won’t match what ends up in your finished photos, but this is a great way to get better acquainted with your face so you feel more confident when you meet up with your photographer.
Alternatively: Jump Right In
If all of this seems overwhelming to you, or like it might get you even more stressed out than you were before, skip it.
This might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes it’s easier to relax when you go into a photoshoot with no expectations. You should fix your hair, makeup, and outfit (of course), but otherwise, don’t do anything special.
This lets you enter the photoshoot as a fresh and clean slate.
Keep yourself distracted before the shoot. You can focus on other work or hobbies, hang out with friends, or exercise (which is another great way to keep stress at bay).
When it’s time for your session, show up and follow all of the photographer’s instructions. You want to put as little thought into this as possible so you don’t scare yourself out of it or psych yourself out.
Trust Your Photographer
Speaking of following your photographer’s guidance, you need to be able to trust the photographer to do what they know is best.
Choosing a photographer that you trust to do your photos is essential if you want to feel comfortable in front of the camera. It doesn’t hurt to ask about their portfolios ahead of time so you know what you can expect or to talk about their methods before the day of the shoot.
Many great photographers will do all of the hard work for you. Unless you have something specific in mind, you don’t have to worry about your posing or angles. They know how to make you look your best.
Try not to micromanage the photo experience. Even if something feels unusual to you, know that the photographer is seeing you through their viewfinder, so they know what you can expect from the outcome.
That said, if you’re uncomfortable or you have a specific idea in mind, there’s nothing wrong with speaking up. Your photographer will know how to handle the situation.
When you go into a photoshoot trusting that your photographer knows best, it can put your mind at ease.
Is It Time for Headshots?
If it’s time to get your first (or updated) headshots, don’t stress! This is an experience that every actor and model goes through, so you know that you’ll have a great time and a great result as long as you relax and let the photographer do their work.
A great headshot is the first step towards a great career in acting. You’re ready for this!
Are you looking for a great headshot photographer in New York City? You can book a session or contact Hangout Headshots today and get professional headshots that your agent will love.