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Tips on Getting the Perfect Model Headshot


It might sound simple, but your headshot is THE most important photo and the first photo you should have as an aspiring model. The better the headshot, the better gigs and opportunities you are able to take advantage of. Agencies and clients don’t want to see what you look like on a night out on the town, because it’s hard for them to picture what you look like any other way. They want to see how you look naturally so they know what they are working with to begin with.

Here are some tips on how to achieve the perfect model headshot to increase your chances of success in the modeling industry.

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The first thing to do is to secure a great photographer who is able to capture the perfect headshot image for you. Make sure you check out their work and that they have a good amount of great headshots in their portfolios already. You want to shoot with a photographer that shoots headshots on a regular basis so you can guarantee you will get the shot you need. You don’t want to go with a photographer who specializes in wedding photography, fashion photography, or your friend/relative who just picked up a camera. Those photographers may be great to look into for different types of shoots for your portfolio but for your headshot specifically, you want a great photographer who specializes in model headshots to make sure you will get the right images you need. The worse thing you could do is spend your time and money on photos you cannot use or will have to get redone. Your headshot should be good for a couple years, unless your change your look, in which case you would need to update them.


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Once you have secured a great headshot photographer, you need to book your HMUA (Hair and makeup artist). It is very important to invest into the right people for your headshot. Make sure to look into the work the HMUA has done specifically with model headshots. You want to get an HMUA who has experience in doing a natural, clean, makeup look. For this shoot, you don’t want to go with an HMUA who specializes in fashion HMUA, a wedding HMUA, or your cousin who just got her cosmetology license, and you definitely don’t want to do it yourself (unless you happen to be a great HMUA/Model). The camera will pick up everything, so you want to get an HMUA who knows how to achieve the perfect casting call/headshot look for you, so that you get the best images as possible!


One-Week Prior:

  • Whiten Teeth: white strips work great or even adding baking soda to your toothpaste helps!
  • Clean Skin regularly: If you don’t already have a regular skin care regimen that fits your skin type, you need to get on that ASAP! Clear skin is very important in modeling since it takes less time to apply your makeup for shoots and less editing time for the photographer to cover any imperfections.
  • Select Wardrobe: Your headshot wardrobe should be solid colored tops, no textures, think very classic looks. Headshots should last you a while, so go with looks that are not too “trendy”.
  • Get your eyebrows done: Having them done properly helps frame your face better.
  • Use SPF and moisturize daily: You want your skin to look radiant and fresh!


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The Day/Night Prior:

  • Get plenty of rest: Nerves and excitement get the best of us, but the worse thing that can happen is looking tired in your headshot. You want to look bright and fresh the day of, so that the photos showcase the best side of you!
  • Eat and drink plenty of water: I have personally seen and heard stories of models passing out on set due to not eating or hydrating properly. Not only does hydrating properly help your skin look plumper, but keeps you hydrated behind any hot lights during your shoot. Not eating the night before or the morning of is not going to make a difference in your photos. Sometimes models may get very nervous which causes them to lose their appetite. You want to be aware of that and eat something to avoid passing out or not giving your best the day of!
  • Remove nail polish: You may end up doing poses in which your hand is near your face and want to avoid having chipped or very colorful nails for your headshot. If it’s not a clean French tip, natural nails, or nude, remove the color. But make sure they are well polished and maintained.
  • Prepare model bag: This should contain anything you would need for the day of the shoot. Think about the small and big things from lotion, to snacks and water, a razor, or even a cell phone charger.
  • Prep outfits: Make sure to iron or steam your photo shoot outfits the day before. You don’t want to show up with wrinkles on your shirt, which will throw off the photo or make the photographer spend extra time editing out. Bring them on a hanger to avoid them getting wrinkled again.
  • Practice poses and different facial expressions: Facial exercises are great to relax your face muscles and allow you to do different expressions with ease. You don’t want to have just one pose/expression the whole time, you want to work with your angles and try some smiling/non smiling looks. You’ll be surprised at how different you can look depending on the angle you are shot at.
  • Shave: I recommend doing this the day before to avoid skin irritation and taking a razor with you in case you miss a spot!
  • Wash hair: You want to do this preferably the night before, so you don’t arrive with wet hair. You want to make sure you have no products in it, especially any oils, which will affect how your hair will turn out. You want it to be your natural, clean hair.
  • Bring your best attitude! If you are having a bad day, leave it at the door! You want to be mentally prepared to give your best on your big day. People prefer to work with happy people, and if you think about it, it is also a great networking opportunity for you as a model. If the team you are working with likes working with you and likes your attitude, they would be more than willing to recommend you to any jobs they hear about or even decide to book you and work with you in the future!


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With all this in mind and preparing ahead of time, you will be able to get your perfect model headshot to use for castings and open up the door to modeling opportunities! Remember to have fun and stay relaxed during your shoot (Breathe!) to allow the photographer to catch you in your best light. The worst thing you can do is fake a smile; it is very noticeable! You want to think happy thoughts as you are taking your photos to allow a natural smile to come through. It’s also a good idea to get a closed smile look in as well to have some variety. Hope these tips help you get your perfect model headshot!

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