First things first: headshots. Need great headshots. Whether you believe this or not, you get them. It’s literally the very first thing people tell me I need, every time. Do my research, and decide on Joanna Brooks-Degeneres. For a few reasons: obviously love her pictures, it’s not crazy expensive, and she seems like a real down-to-earth person. She also used to be an actor, so she’s relatable.
Can’t just show up for headshots. There is some preparation. For the deal I purchase for $625 (I’m sure is a surprise for many, but 625 is definitely on the low end), it includes three looks and a hair and make-up artist. Three looks means three outfit changes. So you really need to know what you’re trying to sell. I definitely want a commercial shot – a smiley, friendly, every-girl kinda look. An athletic look. Sporty. Hair tied back. And then a young business, barista, salesgirl look. Bring on the Best Buy and Staples commercials!
Also need to know what you look like. If I’m trying to convey something with a picture, I better know how to do it. So yes, there is some looking at yourself in the mirror. Then, for me, because I can’t just make these faces on cue (like an actor), I think of scenarios in which I would feel that way. So basically I’m acting as she’s taking my picture.
I arrive at Joanna’s house as she is finishing up with another actor. Her assistant answers the door. Her name is Sophia and she’s British, so, I like her automatically. She has me fill out some paper real quick, then tells me I can just hang out until Joanna is done. She proceeds to the kitchen and I follow. Sophia’s a writer. Just finished a book, actually. We chat it up for a little while, me getting nervous for my headshots. I know, it’s silly, but there is so much pressure on having good headshots – I don’t want to mess it up. “Do you have music?” Joanna said to bring a playlist if I wanted, so I totally did. Sophia hooks my ipod up to speakers and presses play. Awesome.
Joanna enters the room and introduces herself as Jo. She’s a ball of energy; tiny, bubbly and extremely welcoming. Kate will be my hair and makeup artist – also British. Amazing. They are really fun and have a great vibe. I feel immediately at ease surrounded by these three women. Kate gets me started with hair and makeup. She’s set up right next to the kitchen, so we’re all still in tight quarters. Sophia is sitting at the computer, editing photos of a client. Jo gets something to eat and talks to me and talks to Sophia and does a million things at once while making it seem like she’s just hanging out and enjoying herself.
I tell Kate I want natural. Not too much of anything, please. I want to look like me. As for my hair – good luck. She puts some curlers in. “We’re not going to curl it, we’re just going to give it a little something.” Yea, I get it, but trust me, my hair won’t hold it. I let her continue with her curlers, knowing they won’t hold, but she’s right – my hair DOES need a little something. When it’s all over, I look in the mirror. Oh God. Too much. Too much makeup, too much hair. It doesn’t look bad, it just doesn’t look like me. The trio convinces me that it looks good. That it doesn’t look like too much and it will look really good on camera. I trust them because they just seem like trustworthy kind of people. And remember that I came here for a reason. Give them the benefit of the doubt. What do I know about headshots?
Follow Jo to the other room where my assortment of shirts are hanging. She and Kate are there, looking through everything. I stand back, watching them. She looks at a shirt, immediately pushes it to the side. No good. Then takes another, holds it out, examines it, talks out loud the whole time, saying what she thinks about everything. Every look. Takes my dark blue Stetson shirt and pairs it with this purply-blue plaid shirt. Wait, what? That looks so good together. How did you do that? I don’t really ask. I also don’t remind her that my last name is Stetson. Not that it would matter, but I fear that if I tell her, she won’t want to use it. Too corny or something. But I’m excited to wear it. Jo then picks the one shirt I definitely wanted to wear, so I’m really glad she agrees about it. It’s summery and fun and light and looks good with my skin tone. (I got it at TJMaxx for seven bucks if you must know.) And finally this stupid pink with tiny black polka dot button-down I just bought, specifically for headshots. Would have never picked it out, but I thought it would be a good look. So I bought it. Glad I did.
We’re ready to start shooting. I didn’t realize we’d be shooting everything outside, in her garage. It’s a super hot day. Really hot. Not humid, though. (Never that. Because we live in California.)
I don’t mind the heat, but I know it’s only going to make it more difficult for my hair. Whatever. The music is still playing outside. Nice. Jo has been singing along now and then. “Who’s playlist is this?” It’s mine! “Oh I really like it.” Yes, I feel cool. Because they are totally cool. Jo starts taking my pictures and I can feel myself getting in my head. But Jo is here, talking to me the whole time. She is actually making up scenarios, like I practiced in my head, to help me. I can tell she does this all the time. She’s basically my acting coach right now, trying to get different emotions out of me. She’s very conversational. It automatically makes me more comfortable. Like I’m hanging out at a friend’s house and she just so happens to be snapping pictures of me.
We go back in for me to change, Kate to touch me up, and for me to look at the first round of pictures on the computer – since I was hesitant about the hair and makeup. Well, I’ll be damned. They were right. They look really good. It doesn’t look like too much of anything. Head back out. Jo has all these different scrolls of backgrounds. Finds the right one to match me and my shirt. I’m in the pink polka dot shirt now. More business, salesgirl look. Young professional.
Finally, it’s the fun, sexy look. That’s what I’m telling myself in my head, anyway. Kate messes with my hair. “Yea, you weren’t kidding about your hair.” Yup. Already flat. There’s no hope for it. By this time, I’ve had what feels like a million pictures taken. I feel like Jo and Kate are my friends. And I’m hot and slightly lethargic. I am completely comfortable and ready to play. I ease up and have fun with these last shots. This is it, after all. Avril Lavigne conveniently starts to play. Not the sad, hate you music, but the strong, empowering songs that pump me up.
And it’s over. Only lasts a few hours. I’m feeling really good. It was an amazing shoot. I’m super grateful for the experience, and if I can give Jo and her team any good publicity, this is the only way I know to do it.
Great headshots…. check!