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If you're trying to break into the modeling or the acting scene, your head shot is the first chance you have to make an impression with an agent. Though you might get your foot in the door with a killer smile or drop-dead gorgeous sparkly green eyes, overpowering makeup or a wardrobe disaster are huge distractions from the other assets you have to offer. Your head shot should reflect your style and versatility without detracting from your natural beauty.
Pulling together your head shot look starts with knowing how to wear makeup as well as clothes. Your end goal should be a face that's looking fresh and put together but not overdone. Remember that your head shot is part of a job interview -- you wouldn't bust out the blue glitter or cat-eye liner for a job at a law firm, so there's no need to go to those extremes for a head shot either. Stick to a natural makeup routine that highlights your best features. Invest in a primer that keeps your foundation from smudging or melting under hot photography lights. If you aren't sure about your makeup, or if you know you'll be including black-and-white shots, ask for professional help -- but make sure you ask what to bring to the shoot to do touch-ups as needed.
Why Simple is the Standard
What is visible from the shoulders up is important, but your choice of shirt shouldn't make a statement in the final photograph. Distracting patterns like plaid, stripes, polka dots or argyle only compete with your face and whatever background image you're using for the shot. Don't bother with large floral patterns; you won't see enough of the shirt in the final shot to get the full picture anyway. Skip high collars; agents want to see that elegant neck. For optimal versatility, go with a shirt that has a few buttons -- at the shoot, you can leave them closed or pop a few open, or slip a cami underneath for a little color.
When you think simple, black and white are probably the first colors that pop into your head. Basic black and white shirts are standards in the world of head shots, but they aren't right for every model or for every shoot. If you are particularly fair-skinned, skip the black brigade; you'll only end up looking washed-out. White shirts tend to blend into white backgrounds, making you look like a disembodied head. Instead, opt for muted, solid colors that complement your skin tone. Pale blues, mint greens, sunny yellows or neutral go-to's like beige and gray work well for most girls and most shots. Keep those black and white staples in your bag, though, just in case you opt for a last-minute background change that works with dramatic solids.
Your Head Shot Wardrobe
If you're just starting out, you probably won't have a personal stylist on hand with you at your shoot. Your photographer can give you some pointers about what to wear, but you'll be in charge of providing the clothes. Bring a wide selection, and include garments with different cuts -- like a scoop neckline, strappy tank or more romantic butterfly-sleeve blouse. The photographer has opinions on which go best with different poses. Keep your bottoms simple and comfortable in case you move around a lot. Don't forget a couple of accessories. Bring several types of necklaces and earrings in case you want to bling up a few shots and add some versatility to your look.