Nailing your modeling headshots is essential if you want to be booked for modeling gigs. It goes without saying, as it is the first impression that modeling agents and casting directors will have of you.

But what makes a great modeling headshot? And what should you avoid doing?

In this post, we’ve compiled a detailed list of 15 essential tips to help you out! We also let you in on some things you should absolutely avoid doing when having your modeling headshots taken.

Modeling Headshots: 15 Essential Tips & What NOT To Do

Modeling Headshots 101

A headshot is a photo of your face that is typically used for modeling or acting purposes. While headshots can be taken by any type of photographer, it’s important to choose a photographer who specializes in this type of photography. This will ensure that you get the best possible results.

When you’re seeking representation from a modeling agency, the most important thing you can do is put your best face forward – quite literally. That’s why an experienced, professional headshot is essential.

You might also want to consider getting a modeling portfolio put together to send out to modeling agencies.

Do You Need Professional Modeling Headshots?

Do You Need Professional Modeling Headshots?

It’s so important to make sure you get professional modeling headshots as they really showcase your strengths and help you stand out from the rest of the pack.

There’s just no substitute for working with an experienced photographer who knows how to capture you at your best. 

They’ll be able to bring out all of your best features and help you radiate confidence in your photos. And, that’s exactly the kind of thing modeling agencies are looking for when they are swiping through headshots.

How Much Do Model Headshots Cost?

How Much Do Model Headshots Cost?

The cost of a modeling headshot can vary depending on the photographer, location, or studio chosen, however, a typical range is anywhere from $50 to $500. It is not unheard of for headshots to cost above $1000 as they are a business investment.

Think of them as a business card; a good headshot will advertise your business and can be a great way to show your experience, skills, talents, and portray the type of work you are seeking.

Due to being a business cost, they are also a tax write-off.

15 Tips For Taking Amazing Modeling Headshots

15 Tips For Taking Amazing Modeling Headshots

1. You Don’t Just Need A ‘Headshot’

1. You Don't Just Need A 'Headshot'

You don’t just need a ‘headshot’, you need a half-body and full-length shot as well because modeling is all about how you look from different angles.

Your modeling headshots should show off your figure and give the agency an idea of what types of modeling gigs you would be suited for.

So make sure to get a mix of shots that show off your face, body, and personality.

2. Learn To Do Your Make-Up Or Hire A Skilled MUA

2. Learn To Do Your Make-Up Or Hire A Skilled MUA

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for modeling headshots is to learn how to do your makeup, or hire a skilled MUA. A skilled makeup artist can help you achieve the look you desire for your modeling shots.

They can also advise you on which colors and products will work best with your skin tone. However, it’s also important to avoid wearing heavy makeup that will obscure your face or make it difficult to move around during shoots or photoshoots afterwards.

Always be prepared for changes, too, whether it means bringing along extra lip gloss or foundation in case the weather changes while you’re shooting, or having a backup wig in case your own hair fails!

And take care when applying make-up, as even the tiniest mistake can ruin an entire photo session!

Some extra make-up tips if you choose to DIY:

Prep Your Skin

As anyone who’s ever dealt with a make-up mishap can attest, it’s important to prep your skin before applying foundation or concealer. Harsh chemicals in make-up can cause breakouts or worsen existing acne scars, so it’s crucial to take the time to cleanse and moisturize your skin before you start your make-up routine. 

For dry skin, use a hydrating serum or sheet mask to boost moisture levels before applying make-up. 

Oily skin types should opt for an oil-free cleanser and mattifying primer to control shine throughout the day. 

And for sensitive skin, look for make-up products that are hypoallergenic and free of fragrances and other harsh ingredients. 

Match It

When it comes to achieving a natural look in photos and videos, it’s important to match your base make-up color to your hair color. This way, the make-up will blend seamlessly with your hair and create a cohesive look.

If you have lighter hair, go for a lighter make-up shade, and vice versa for darker hair. There’s no need to go for a contrasting look unless that’s the effect you’re going for – in most cases, it’s best to keep things natural.

Use A Powder

Use a powder where needed to set make-up – thiss will help keep skin looking matte rather than shiny. Be strategic with your powder usage, though, as too much can make you look cakey or older than you are and ends up building up in the creases.

Apply it to areas where you tend to get oily throughout the day, such as your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), or anywhere that tends to crease when you smile.


Apply lipsticks sparingly, as too much can look overdone. A good rule of thumb is to use a lip liner that’s one shade darker than your natural lip color, then fill in your lips with a lipstick that’s close to your skin tone.

This will create the illusion of fuller lips without looking like you’re wearing too much make-up.

Of course, it is easier and more cost-effective to learn how to do your make-up but if only for your professional modeling headshots, it would be best to engage the services of a skilled MUA.

3. No Distractions, You Should Be The Main Focus

3. No Distractions, You Should Be The Main Focus

Any good modeling headshot should have the person as the main and only focus. This is your time to shine and let the world see what you have to offer as a model. You want to be able to tell a story or sell a product through your eyes and facial expressions.

All too often, people try to submit photos with other people in the frame or with too much going on in the background. This can be very distracting and take away from the real star of the show, which is you.

A simple backdrop that won’t compete with your outfit or style is desirable. And speaking of outfits, make sure you choose something that highlights your figure in a flattering way.

The last thing you want is for people to be distracted by an ill-fitting or overly complicated outfit. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best one. 

4. Your Photos Are Only As Good As The Photographer

4. Your Photos Are Only As Good As The Photographer

When it comes to photos, you really are only as good as the photographer. Sure, anyone can pick up a camera and point it at a subject, but it takes a real artist to capture a truly stunning image.

If you’re looking for a professional photographer, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  1. First, do your research. Look at reviews find out how long they’ve been in business.
  2. Second, consider photographers who specialize in modeling photography and headshots.
  3. Third, inquire about rates before making a decision.
  4. And finally, get on the phone or meet in person to get a feel for their personality and work ethic – you want to make sure you’re comfortable with them before booking a session.

5. What To Wear In Your Modeling Headshots?

5. What To Wear In Your Modeling Headshots?

When planning what to wear for your modeling headshots, keep in mind that you want the focus to be on you and not your clothes.

Choose outfits that are body-fitting and simple, in neutral colors like black, white, or gray. Your goal is to look professional and confident, so avoid anything too flashy or revealing. 

6. Studio or Outdoors?

6. Studio or Outdoors?

When it comes to headshots, there are benefits to both studio and outdoor shoots. In a studio setting, the photographer has complete control over the lighting, which can be very helpful in achieving the desired look for the headshot.

Studios also typically have a wider range of backdrops and props that can be used to create different looks.

However, outdoor shoots can also be very effective, especially if the goal is to capture a more natural look. The use of natural light can add a softer, more flattering effect to the headshot.

Studio photoshoots cost more because the photographer typically has to book the space in advance, however, with the right lense an outdoor shoot can also be just as effective.

7. How Should You Pose?

7. How Should You Pose?

There are a few things to keep in mind when posing for modeling headshots. First, relax and don’t take yourself too seriously – the goal is to look confident, not stiff. Second, experiment with different angles and expressions until you find what looks best for you.

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask the photographer for help. They are the experts, after all, and can offer guidance on what works best for modeling headshots.

8. Head Forward, Chin Down

8. Head Forward, Chin Down

One of the basic rules of taking a good headshot is to make sure that your head is forward and your chin is down. 

This perspective is flattering for most people, and it also makes you look approachable. Your eyes should be looking straight ahead, and your mouth should be closed. 

Headshots are usually taken from slightly above so that the face is lit evenly, but when doing any of the above watch out for the dreaded double chin!

9. Keep Your Pics Up-to-date

9. Keep Your Pics Up-to-date

Keeping your pics up-to-date is indicative of a professional and experienced model. It shows that you take your modeling career seriously and are committed to getting work.

Your modeling headshots should be updated every 6 to 12 months, or more frequently if you’ve had a major change in appearance (e.g., hair color, weight loss/gain, surgery, etc.).

10. Get Plenty of Rest Before

10. Get Plenty of Rest Before

This is probably the most underrated tip on the list! Dark circles under your eyes or a tired expression is not going to get you any gigs.

Get a good night’s sleep before your modeling headshot session, and avoid drinking alcohol the night before as it can dehydrate your skin.

11. Let Your Eyes Do The Work

11. Let Your Eyes Do The Work

The eyes are said to be the windows to the soul, so it’s no surprise that a good headshot depends primarily on them. The key is to learn to “smize” – that is, to smile with your eyes. 

A good photographer may do this little trick where they ask you to look away and then back into the lens right as they take the shot. This will help to capture a dynamic, engaging gaze. 

Don’t worry about your body’s position with this one; however, the pressure is still there, and your priority should be your eyes.

Show dead eyes in your headshot, and you’ll seem lifeless and uninterested. Capture a smizing gaze, on the other hand, and you’ll come across as approachable, confident, internally beautiful, and full of life.

12. Relax

12. Relax

Relax your shoulders to look more relaxed and confident in your model headshots. It is easy to do and makes a big impact in the photos. Meeting your photographer beforehand so you are comfortable with them is also key.

This way you can focus on being in the moment and modeling without worrying about the person behind the camera. If you have any specific concerns, be sure to bring them up too so that your photographer can address them.

For example, if you are self-conscious about your nose, let the photographer know so they can avoid capturing that angle in your photos. Building trust with your photographer will help you feel more relaxed in front of the camera, which will result in better photos.

13. Work Those Angles

13. Work Those Angles

A good photographer will try to find your most attractive angle and shoot from there.

They will pay attention to your features when shooting and make tiny adjustments to get the best results.

It is your job to simply work those angles and give the photographer what they need. This means finding your most flattering angle and modeling from there.

There is no one-size-fits-all for this, so experiment until you find the angle that works best for you. And don’t be afraid to ask your photographer for their opinion!

14. Lighting Is EVERYTHING

14. Lighting Is EVERYTHING

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography, especially when it comes to taking head shots. The right kind of light can make all the difference in hiding wrinkles and blemishes, and bringing out the best features of a person’s face.

When taking head shots, it is often best to use diffused light around the head, which will create a softer, more flattering effect. However, sometimes a more rugged look can be achieved by leaving the underside of the face unlit.

15. Simple Hairstyles

15. Simple Hairstyles

Do whatever you need to do for your hair type and look, but keep it simple.

  • Take photos of your hair down and pulled back.
  • Get a haircut or redo your hairstyle before taking your photos.
  • Keep your hairstyle simple and well-groomed.
  • Try different hairstyles to find the perfect one for you.
  • Try a high or low ponytail.
  • Make sure your hair is styled properly before taking the photo.

Most people know what hairstyles work best for their face shape, so just make sure to keep it simple and well-groomed. Try out a few different styles before settling on the one that looks best in photos.

Remember: Your Modeling Headshot Is Your First Impression

First impressions are key, and your modeling headshot is often the first thing that potential modeling agencies, clients, or casting directors see. However you decide to present yourself in your modeling headshot says a lot about who you are as a model, and it can either make or break your modeling career.

That’s why it’s so important to get your modeling headshots done right. And luckily, we’re here to tip you off on things to avoid, also!

5 Things To Avoid When Taking Modeling Pictures

No Selfies!

Selfies have a time and a place, but modeling headshots are NOT that time or place. Instead of using your iPhone camera or selfie stick, hire a professional photographer who knows how to take good modeling pictures.

Don’t Wear Too Much Makeup

We get it, you want your modeling headshot to look flawless. But resist the urge to go overboard with the makeup! You want your modeling headshot to look like an accurate representation of what you look like on a day-to-day basis.

Don’t Be A Diva

Your modeling headshot photographer is not the enemy, so there’s no need to be rude or uncooperative. Modeling is a collaborative effort, and it starts with having a good attitude during your modeling headshot session.

Don’t Bring Props

Your modeling headshot should be all about you and your modeling skills, not about the props you bring with you. Keep your modeling headshots simple by just bringing yourself (and maybe a few different outfits if you want to change things up).

Don’t Wear Clothes That Are Too Tight Or Too Loose

Your modeling headshot clothes should fit you well, but they shouldn’t be so tight that they’re uncomfortable or so loose that they look like they’re about to fall off. Find clothing that’s form-fitting, but not too constricting, and that flatters your modeling figure.

For more quality content like this, be sure to check out the Pole Model Youtube Channel!
See you there 🙂