Commercial models audition for print and Television.  Their head shots and the shots that pertain to the audition are sent.  The agency has a database, the Booker goes through their images and sends what they think is appropriate for that job.  They normally send 3 or 4 images of each model, one image for acting.

I tend to shoot my commercial model head shots more like actors head shot.  Very clean, straight on with clear skin.  I make sure to leave all their freckles if they have them, any skin smoothing plug ins should be imperceptible. I show their upper teeth and make sure they’re smiling with their eyes.  My “hey” smile always does the trick.

Head shot info usually says no short sleeves or prints, if the print is small and blends well I might shoot it. I do like to show off the models arms especially if their arm is “cut”.  If you’re only submitting one image the info from the arm can be enlightening to a potential client.  If you are an older model and your arm is cut the client will know she’s in shape.

I try and have the models chest on the side so the clients can see their bust size.  So in one image I’m trying to cover a lot of bases for a commercial model/actress.  That’s why I tend to not shoot too close and show some body.  I also like to show a lot of eye color so even if I’m using strobes or my Spiderlites I leave my windows open, I like what I call a “busy” eye.

I don’t offer head shots without my makeup artist doing the makeup and assisting on set.  I can’t tell you how many times she has to tweak their eyebrows before the shoot and catch stray hairs while shooting.   I try to convey the following;

  • width of face (don’t let them bring their head to the side)
  • eye lid area (so don’t shoot too high up)
  • all the upper teeth exposed (really open up the mouth when smiling, say the word “hey”)
  • tipping of the head (it shows how  relaxed the model is in front of the camera)
  • length of hair (not too styled, I prefer it a bit casual looking)
  • freckles
  • bust size
  • physique
  • accurate skin color (especially for models of color)

I spend quite a bit of time retouching but in the end hope it looks natural.  I do a lot of dodging and burning and want the image to pop.   I never give out images straight from the camera without retouching.

I’m showing three head shots that our local agencies and clients love.  The models are booking work consistently and several times have direct booked with the clients being very happy.  The ultimate goal is to have the model direct book and looking like her image when she walks in.  Nothing worse than having a client pissed off when they see the model they’ve booked (for whatever reason they couldn’t have a casting call before the job).

I would say the best way to get into commercial agencies is to first tackle a great head shot…just sayin

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