Here's a quick guide for subjects / models before a photoshoot.
I thought I’d share what I usually tell my subjects when they ask me how to prepare before a headshot or portrait session. Who knows, maybe one of you out there is about to be photographed. Or you can just keep this link somewhere and refer back to it when needed. These are just my general recommendations - you’re more than welcome to break any rule in here if you think it would work for you.
What clothing to wear for a portrait / headshot session
1. Simple clothes: For typical portraits, I recommend clothing without any typography, graphics, recognizable brand logos, really vibrant colours, or distracting patterns. Feel free to bring different sets of clothing if you’re not sure what to wear or if you want multiple options. For headshots especially, when bringing alternate clothing options, think of bringing clothes with different necklines.
2. Ironed clothes: Think of what you want to wear a few days before the shoot to make sure that it’s clean and ready to go the day of. Don’t forget to iron your clothes. Wrinkles can make portraits look unprofessional and can be tricky to remove in Photoshop. (I have an iron at home if you don’t!)
3. Coordinating clothes as a group: If you’re to be photographed with others, make sure you discuss coordinating clothing beforehand. You don’t all need to match - just make sure you don’t end up with five people wearing black and one wearing red (unless it’s intentional of course).
How to prepare hair and make-up
1. Make-up: Generally, for headshots, corporate or promotional portraits, light natural make-up is worn. But I’m leaving this up to you. If you’d like a make-up artist for the shoot, they would be available at an additional cost - let me know.
2. Lips, nails, hands: Make sure you have some chapstick to avoid dry / cracked lips. Gloss photographs well, but make sure it’s not glittery. Make sure your nails are clean and your hands not dry.
3. Hair & facial hair: You should come hair-ready, but bring hair ties / bands if you want to try out different looks. You should also bring a brush or comb if your hair is as out-of-control as mine is when I wake up. Shaving mid-shoot to change your facial hair is possible, bring a shaving kit if you want.
Accessories to wear for a photoshoot
1. Glasses: You’re not sure whether you should wear glasses or contacts? Bring glasses! That way we can do variations with or without.
2. Jewelry: Bracelets, necklaces, and earrings can be distracting - if you decide to bring some, keep it relatively simple.
Retouching in portraits and headshots
My goal is to make you look like you on your best day. For me, that doesn’t start with retouching in Photoshop, it starts with my choice of lenses and lighting. Some lenses stretch, others compress. Lighting can be controlled to go from harsh lighting with glare to a soft, even look. Shadows can be used to control what is visible or not. All these decisions are important and come before any Photoshopping.
Now here’s my stance on retouching. I do find it acceptable to remove skin blemishes and pimples that happen to be present on the day of the photoshoot. I am however against most retouching and Photoshopping that we see in magazines. It’s a wide spectrum and everyone stands somewhere on it. I think that as soon as the retoucher’s hand is visible in the photograph, it’s already gone too far.
I also think photographers should speak more openly about it with their subjects. When you come into my studio to have your portraits and headshots taken, we can go through a few of the shots together and you can tell me if there are some things you want me to take care of post-production.
Lastly, if we're having the photo shoot in my home studio
We have an iron, a lint roller, a bathroom, and lots of mirrors. There’s parking in the back! Let me know if you intend on using it, I’ll open the gate for you. Aaaand coffee or tea? :)