Headshot Tips for Actors, Models and Performers

Actors, Models and Performers Tips For Getting The Most Out of Their Hea Shot/Portfolio Photography Session

For business photos, please see my page of “Headshot Tips for Business Portraits”.


Syracuse Portrait Head Shot Photographer


Over the many years of being a professional photographer, I have became well aware of the importance of conveying interesting and natural looking facial expressions while being photographed. During this time I have been honing this craft of coaching my subjects to produce both realistic and flattering facial expressions and images.

During our session, I will teach you to bring out the subtleties of the human face that attract us to certain people and images.  Sometimes that requires the subject to intentionally manipulate certain facial features in combination of your natural look and smile.


Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor’s, Models and Musicians. .

One of the most important things is to share your intentions for the photo session. Let me know what kind of look you want.

Don’t be afraid to practice at home in front of a mirror. Practice poses and expressions… especially true for models looking to build a portfolio. You want to be loose and get a dynamic range of looks. So be playful and have fun.

Do not drink alcohol or take any drugs directly before or the night before your shoot. This will end up making you look tired.

Drink lots of water and be well rested.

Please arrive on time, ready for your first shot.

If you are looking for a general head shot which is not specific to any role, then bring your smile as well as your more serious looks.  We will explore everything in between!

Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor’s, Models and Musicians. .

What to wear:

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel great. I often suggest buying a new outfit, dress, shirt, jacket, etc.. We always great when wearing new clothes!
  • A simple black shirt/blouse/dress is often a good option. Solid colors are better than shirts with patterns or stripes. Avoid white shirts unless you plan to wear it underneath a jacket or a sweater.
  • Darker clothes attract less attention and put the attention on your face and eyes. This is one of the reasons I love black. It can also be dark gray, browns, etc..
  • No glitter or ornate stitching. Nothing with too much detail.
  • For multiple looks, bring a variety of clothing that emphasizes different roles/characters (professional shirt and jacket, working class clothes, sexy, etc…)  This is especially true for models looking into building a portfolio and have booked a longer session
  • A suit or jacket are great for men wanting a more professional look, but feel free to bring a few outfits especially if you have booked a longer session. I will help you find the best combination!
  • All shirts, dresses and garments should be neatly ironed on a hanger.
  • Different necklines will change the look of someones face. So bring a few different necklines for consideration.
  • Don’t worry about shoes… unless we are shooting outdoors, most if not all the photos will be from the waist up.
  • Don’t bring 4-5 of the same-style shirts in different colors. Bring variety of styles!
  • Bring a few extra outfits so we can choose what looks best on you at the shoot

REMEMBER: Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Select something that makes you feel good. You may want to consider buying a new outfit or a few new shirts. New clothes always makes us feel great.

John Carnessali Photography

Syracuse Model Photographer


  • Keep jewelry extremely simple – smaller is generally better

What to bring:

  • Your previous head shots (so we can improve)
  • Samples from magazines if you have not emailed me with some, or other head shots to help communicate the look you want. This can be very important and go a long way in getting the most out of our session
  • Be ready for your first head shot when you arrive. This means make up, hair and outfit are ready to go.

Syracuse Headshot Studio for Actor’s, Models and Musicians.

Model Portfolio Studio

Syracuse Head Shot and Modeling Photographer


Hair and Makeup Tips:

  • Make-up should be clean and natural
  • Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine.  The studio lights will pick up on them and wreak havoc on your image. This would also include frosts and garnish colors as well.
Syracuse Commercial and Product Photographer

Syracuse Commercial and Product Photographer


Modeling, Acting and Head Shot Gallery