You’re a Snapchat selfie pro and your Boomerang skills are practically unmatched. Your Instagram feed is filled with both silly and serious dance shots, all of which earn plenty of likes and double-taps of approval from your friends.
But professional headshots are different, and having great headshots is important for any aspiring dancer. So before you take your place in front of the lens, heed this advice from Erin Baiano, a former American Ballet Theatre dancer and current photographer for New York City Ballet and The New York Times. (In other words, she knows her stuff.)
1. Prep like a pro.
“I advise staying away from a lot of salt and sugar one to three days before your shoot, and to stay hydrated,” says Baiano. “Get a good night’s sleep the night before so your skin looks its best. Yes, makeup can hide dark circles, but there’s nothing like a natural glow!”
2. Dress the part.
“Stick with clean lines and solid, flattering colors,” says Baiano. “I usually recommend bringing a few leotards or options so you can do outfit changes. There are no hard rules for this, but you don’t want to distract from your beautiful face.”
3. Hair and makeup matter — but you should look like yourself.
“If you’re doing your own hair and makeup, keep it clean and natural,” Baiano says. “You want to look like yourself, but enhanced for camera. Use neutrals and natural-looking lip and cheek colors.”
4. Work the camera.
“To connect with the lens, look into the camera, relax, and think of someone you love, something you love to do, or somewhere you love to be,” says Baiano. “Then breathe! Much of what makes a great headshot is in the eyes. It keeps your expression alive and connects the viewer. Try different looks and angles — even go for your best ‘Blue Steel’ a la Zoolander. Even if it feels silly, it might look good. And if it looks terrible, it can be deleted! Work with the photographer so you know what he or she is shooting, and remember that it’s a collaboration. Make sure you like what you see on the camera, and don’t plan to rely too much on retouching or Photoshopping after the shoot.”
5. Have fun!
“It’s OK to take breaks throughout the shoot. Taking headshots can be awkward, but it can also be a lot of fun,” says Baiano. “Let the photographer know what you need. Maybe your face is tired from smiling or you need a sip of water. If you have a professional hair and makeup artist on hand, he or she will be stepping in to keep you looking your best. If there’s music you like to listen to, let the photographer know. It’s your shoot, so enjoy it — it’ll show in the photos!”