An annual headshot shoot with a professional photographer is a great way for you to keep a photographic record of each of your students to use for last minute castings and also a lovely keepsake for parents- much better and more flattering than stark school uniform shots! Having attended a few of these ourselves! ..We at PAT feel suitably qualified to guide you through the ins, outs, dos and don’ts..
A great way to obtain shots of all your students is to invite a headshot photographer to your venue on a set date to shoot each child. On average they will need between 10min-45mins with each student. However, the older the child or if they have professional representation then a longer shoot maybe necessary at the agents request to capture more casting looks and get a winning shot- however usually 10-45min is sufficient.
It is important you do not just approach the portrait photographer on the local high street- a performers headshot is a different style to a family or school portrait and in my experience whenever a parent has insisted a family member can take the shot as they are a photo enthusiast, it is usually either not good enough or not in the correct style and you just know that student is going to loose out for potential castings in the long term…
The photo needs to look as natural as possible and focus on the eyes. Often natural lighting (outside) or a mix of natural and studio lighting can create a lovely natural shot. I recommend new shots are taken every 12-18months and if the photographer is shooting lots of students then the price shouldn’t be too expensive for the student- in fact some headshot photographers will be happy to not be paid for the shoot and make money on the prints they sell.
Here are some guidelines we recommend when selecting a photographer and helping students prepare for the shoot;
1. Check their headshot credentials and the style of the shots- are they natural and striking?
2. Have they shot young people before? Shooting young people- especially nervous teens or very
young children has some specialist skills and you need someone with the relevant experience
3. Don’t have parents in the room! They can be distracting for student and photographer. Have a licenced chaperone on hand to co-ordinate and assist the photographer and time keeping of the shoot and of course be in the room with the student at all times.
4. Students need to look their age. If they are 12years old they are going to be cast for a 12year old or even younger so no make up, piercings or severe hair styles- unless that is ‘their casting type’.
5. Often 16/17year olds are cast younger and this is the age they all want to wear make up! So again even for this group only very natural make-up- eye liner, lipstick and heavy mascara is out. Pinch your cheeks blush, subtle lip gloss and a lick of fine mascara is in.
6. Students should bring a selection of plain, un-logod, un-patterned but coloured tops with different necklines, that isn’t showing too much flesh. The photographer should select the top for them to wear ideally.
7. Ensure a students first ‘look’ is with their hair down with any stray hair falling over the eyes clipped or combed back. Time and time again I have witnessed students arriving with elaborate hair styles only for the photographer to ask them to take it down for a more natural look and they have a massive kink in their hair…not a good look!
8. No elaborate hair bands, scrunchies etc.
9. No jewellery.
10. With the photographers permission put some music on to help the student relax.
11. Give a pre shoot hand-out with guidelines to parents and talk students through what to expect from the shoot.
12. Whilst black and white headshots used to be the norm, the trend now is for colour shots with natural backgrounds.
Some photographers to look at for inspiration and consideration