Headshots or Senior Pictures: Shoot “Sexy” the Right Way

Senior Portrait - Headshot Sexy

Shooting for “Sexy” Headshots & Senior Portraits

With over 20 years combined experience as photographers, we’ve shot a LOT of “Sexy” shots…..some that turned out amazing….and some that just didn’t seem right.  To be honest, we hesitate to even use the term “Sexy” when referring to pictures for Senior Girls.  The trend toward high-end fashion editorial type Senior Photography has resulted in a few photographers going WAY out of bounds on what is appropriate for this age.  However, these girls are very close to womanhood & it’s understandable that they may bring at least a couple outfits that would be considered by most people to be on the sexy side.  As female photographers we’re very cognizant of the line that crosses into TOO sexy & we are extremely conscious of going nowhere near it.  Below are some guidelines to pay attention to – not “rules” – just some observations we’ve made that you should be aware of before going for a “Sexy” pic.

For many of our Actors, “Sexy” is a very important shot….obviously.  But, there’s a line that probably shouldn’t be crossed there, as well.  The kinds of over-the-top sexy images you see on some shows & in some movies are NOT representative of what the industry standard is for “Sexy” headshots.  Below are some things to consider to make sure no casting director cringes when looking at your “Sexy” pic 🙂

1.  COLOR OF DRESS OR TOP

For Actors

Color is a big big biggie on the “sexy” shot.  Sexy will naturally include a bump up in hair & makeup, and adding in a bright or loud color might grab the casting director’s attention – but, probably not in a good way.  Smokey Eyes, Big Sexy Waves in the Hair AND a vivid magenta dress start to feel a lot like trying TOO hard.  Black is an obvious choice that is classic & always will be.  Black is slimming.  Black is mysterious.  Black is sexy.  However, there are a few other colors that we’ve noticed over the years totally worked:

Navy / Dark Sapphire
Dark Gray
Deep Emerald
Dark Plum
Chocolate Brown

Not that we’re saying these are the ONLY colors that work for “Sexy” – we’re just saying these are probably better choices than hot pink, gold, silver, bright red, magenta or anything sparkly.  And, for prints, we just advise to stay away from them.  For a sexy shot, you’ll often be using a 3 quarter (to the waist or hips) shot, so a print is an unneeded distraction ….that takes attention away from you.

For Senior Girls

Color is still an important consideration for Senior Pics, but you have a LOT more latitude.  Honestly, if a color looks great on you, it’ll probably be great for the pictures.  There are some things to watch out for though:

Looking TOO sexy

You’re 17.  Let’s preserve this moment in time by capturing “Sexy” in an appropriate way.  We’re just not comfortable taking pictures of a minor in a skin tight hot pink spandex dress.  Enough said….

Choosing a color that isn’t flattering
Keep in mind that at least a third of your pictures are going to be 3-quarter or full length.  If you choose a really bright color, or a wild print, sometimes it will sort of “take over” the picture in a full length shot.  Keep these full length shots in mind when choosing color & prints.

 

2.  CUT OF WARDROBE

For Actors

Stay away from tops & dresses that are billowy & loose fitting.  They look so cute in person….but they’re just terrible in a headshot.  They’re fine for looks where you’ll be cropping into a tight headshot.  But, for “sexy” you generally go for a little more body in the frame, down to the bust or even to the hip-bone (like Nikki’s pic above).  Many people think “Well, I’ll just chip clip the back to bring it in on the sides.  That’s fine – but you should test it before your shoot since very often, clipping tighter in the back creates a ton of wrinkles, gaps & general weirdness in the front.

Neckline is another biggie.  A sleek black mock turtleneck long-sleeve dress might look absolutely fabulous on you – but, in a picture it’s gonna look like you’re being constricted.   Really anything that covers your decollete is just a bad idea.  Shoulders, neck, collarbone – these are the sexiest parts….why cover them up.  Also, a nice neckline makes your neck look longer & makes you look more sleek.

Senior Girls

Senior Pics can definitely get away with more flowy, billowy tops.  For images where we can see your entire body, it actually photographs really cute.  The issue gets problematic though in images shot to the waist.  The bottom of the picture is a big blob of fabric…..not super cute.  So, keep this in mind when considering a loose fitting top or dress.  They’re not all bad for camera – and if you bring plenty of choices in wardrobe, we’ll be able to figure out before we shoot what’s gonna work & what won’t 🙂

 

3.  HAIR & MAKEUP

For Actors & Senior Girls

Everyone loves getting a “smokey eye” done by a professional makeup artist….but for headshots & senior pictures, it’s often best to keep it a soft smokey eye.  For actors, wearing too much black eyeliner & eyeshadow, too much blush, overly drawn lips, starts to look like a makeup ad, not a headshot.  For Senior Girls AND Actors, too much makeup just looks like you’re trying way way too hard to be sexy – – – and it covers up your natural beauty, which is something we really want to capture.  Our makeup artists are the absolute BEST at creating a sexy makeup & hair look that still feels fresh.

 

4.  POSING

For Actors

The entire point of a headshot is for the casting director to see what you look like.  When you’re acting, you’re rarely posing.  You’re generally standing, sitting, leaning, or walking.  So, in your headshot, you should keep it simple & stick to these basics when posing for the picture.  For “Sexy” you should also remember that the CD needs to see what your body looks like.  So, turning to the side, or contorting yourself into a funky pose keeps them from seeing your silhouette.  A funky or artsy pose might look super cool in a clothing ad, but if casting can’t see your shape, it kinda goes against the entire reason for doing a sexy body shot.  If you’d like to see some examples of “Sexy” shots that worked, view our portfolio:  http://www.maxbrandinphotography.com/portfolio/actor-headshots/

 

ACTORS HEADSHOTS : EXAMPLES

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For Senior Girls

Natural poses that feel organic are almost always best.  During your shoot we’ll guide you through some ideas that you can incorporate with what comes naturally to you.  Awkward poses & contortions just don’t photograph well (unless you’re a super model w/ years of posing experience).  The biggest consideration we’ll always be on the lookout for are poses that are just too sexy for Senior Pics.  Overly arching the back, etc. can take us into Maxim-land….so we’ll work with you on finding a nice happy medium that looks gorgeous & natural.

 

SENIOR PORTRAITS : EXAMPLES

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