Plan for your great headshot

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It’s worth the time and preparation, because a great headshot can be money in the bank


This post originally appeared on Cari Cole’s “Standing in the Spotlight” blog. Reprinted with permission.

Whether you like it or not, being a music artist is about more than just talent or a great voice. You have to have the image to match, as image plays a huge role in how people choose what to listen to and what to pass on. Your headshot is often the first impression many new fans and the press will get of you. If the headshot: a) just totally sucks or b) doesn’t successfully convey your brand, you lose out on so many opportunities right from the beginning. And when you’re trying to make your way in this industry, you simply can’t afford to miss even one opportunity.

Having your own photo taken can be stressful – I know how that goes – it’s super hard to get a great shot! But if you follow some of the simple tips outlined below (as well as be flat-out determined that you won’t rest until it’s right), you’re bound to end up happy with the end result.

Here are my top four tips for getting the perfect headshot for your brand.

  1. Pick the right photographer. Find a photographer you LOVE. If you don’t feel like you can afford a photographer you love, do some more research. You might be surprised once you go bargain hunting. Just like in the music industry, there are plenty of up-and-coming photographers who have the talent but not yet the experience to demand big bucks.

  3. Don’t make it too artsy. As creative types, we sometimes have a tendency to want things to be artsy for the sake of being artsy. That’s a huge mistake every time with headshots, which should be straightforward, easily digestible manifestations of your brand. I wouldn’t recommend a far away shot of you, for instance. Everything looks better up close and personal – transparency rules.

  5. Plan out the shot. Don’t leave it up to the cosmos or your photographer to have a great shoot day. You have to brainstorm and conceptualize how you want to come across and how that translates into your image, background, clothing details, hair, makeup and location. I also highly recommend shooting both inside and outside. Sometimes studio shots come out better because you can control the lighting, while outdoor shots give more ambience and can tell a story. Do both because you never know which will come out better. And bottom line – you need a great face shot for your online avatar that is well lit and intimate.

  7. Plan out your wardrobe, hair, and makeup. Don’t wait for the day before your shoot to get this together. That is way too last minute for a photo shoot. Spend the few weeks before meeting with a stylist or trying on clothes with your most fashion forward friend at your local boutiques (and snap photos of outfits so you can really see what works best). Remember – image is your first shot of gaining fans because in most cases they will see you before they hear you. Then, research the right hair and makeup people – ask local musicians who look cool who they use. And do not even think about shooting without hair and makeup stylists – you can easily botch the whole shoot without them.

Bad headshots:

  • Drive away fans (even repel people).
  • Don’t fit or agree with your brand or the brand you hope to establish.
  • Sometimes just suck without being able to define exactly why.

Good headshots:

  • Accurately convey your brand.
  • Tell people who you are and what you’re about, in one second.
  • Feel warm and authentic.
  • Can help you make money!

Cari Cole headshot

Cari Cole is a celebrity vocal coach, artist development expert, and new music biz mentor. She has over 25 years’ experience working with independent artists and A-list performers. Her website offers tools and materials for serious vocalists, bands and singer-songwriters, and her “Standing in the Spotlight” blog is a great resource for vocal and music industry info.

Read More
6 Key Ingredients for Creating Good Photos

The Art of Music Photography

Branding Yourself in Your Artist Bio and Beyond

Why You Want A Music Video

Press Kit Posts – Press Releases, Band Bios, Publicity, and More

3 thoughts on “Plan for your great headshot

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