Headshots for musicians or performing artits are an important promotional tool. They create an instant impression and should communicate that the artist is pleasant, fun and professional. However, just as a photo can say good things about you, it can also create a negative image portraying you as distant, amateur and boring. Having a successful headshot will make a good strong impression and connect with the audience, employer, or auditioner on an individual level.
Who should have a photo?
If you care about getting press coverage you should care about having a photo. A well-written bio or press release with a headshot is more likely to get published than without.
The standard headshot is an 8X10 glossy or matte, black and white or color picture. Don’t forget, although it is called a headshot, instrumentalists need to include more than their head (Instrument!) For vocalists headshots are a necessity for most auditions and competitions. For instrumentalists, they will be the most important when doing a lot of solo work. Concert presenters absolutely expect you to have your headshot on hand.
Choosing a Photographer
Ask others who they have used including friends, teachers, and advisors. Ask to see their headshots and when you find one you like get the photographer's name and information. The Office of Conservatory Professional Development can also help you to find a photographer in the Cleveland area.
Questions to ask the photographer
1. Ask to see their portfolio
2. Find out who they regularly photograph
a. Find someone who photographs musicians in your genre
3. Basic fee
a. Ask what is included in the basic fee
b. Hidden costs can add up so be sure to ask to avoid
misunderstanding and confusion
i. How many shots (film charges)
ii. Amount of finished 8X10’s
iii. Charge for extra 8X10’s
iv. Length of shoot
v. Retouching included?
vi. Who keeps negatives?
vii. Hair/make-up recommendations
viii. What if I don’t like my shots?
4. How a session is run - Good photographers should ask you what image you want to portray, the repertoire you perform, and how you are planning to use the photos.
5. Number of pictures per session - Should be a minimum of 100, but 150 or more is best. The more they take the better your chances of finding the best shots on the contact sheets.
The Day of the Shoot
Once you have decided the type of shots you need and have chosen a photographer it is now time to make choices about jewelry, clothes, hair and make-up for the shoot. Have ideas about mood and style, and lighting considerations.
Other Appearance Considerations
Remember you are trying to make an impact on someone and a headshot is a part of your overall marketing strategy. Do you want your look to be commercial, casual, formal?
Choose at least three different types of outfits, two formal and one semi-casual. Solid colors are best. Bright colors in black and white may be seen as grays. Don’t overdo the make-up. The person in the photo should match the “you” presented on stage. Wear a minimum amount of jewelry and don’t wear a watch.