How can I contact you to ask a question or make an appointment?
Email is best: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where are you located?
NYC (upper west side, near Columbia University).
When are you available?
There’s no day of the week I won’t shoot. Headshots should be taken in early to mid afternoon for the best light.
Can I meet with you beforehand to talk to you in person?
Sure. Phone or Skype also works.
Do you ever postpone an appointment due to weather?
I think I've done this only a few times in 10 years due to extremely dark storm clouds (in New York, not L.A.). Generally, if it's overcast, it's fine. Any slight changes that occur due to sunlight and clouds are adjusted on my camera as we go.
What should I bring?
Several different tops/shirts, depending on how many looks you want. If you'd like a few photos showing more of your body, then feel free to bring a change of pants/skirt.
Bring whatever makeup and hair products you would use to prepare yourself for an audition, especially lip balm to avoid dry lips. You want to look polished and professional but not overly glamorous. I've heard it said "you want to look like you on your best day."
What kind of clothing is best?
Bring what you like and feel good in. Colors that tend to look good on everyone are blues, greens, grays. Muted and jewel tones work well for just about everyone. Bright colors can work too – what matters is that you like it and feel good in it! Black is a nice dramatic option. Prints are fine. Take a look at the headshots on my site for ideas. If you look great in it and feel great in it, bring it! We can always decide once you try it on.
Women: V-necks, scoop necks and boat necks are good. Some skin below the neck can be flattering. Texture (ruffles, lace, folds, etc.) is nice as long as it's not too distracting. I would avoid big jewelry.
Men: I recommend any combination of t-shirts, button-down shirts, sweaters, hoodie, jacket and tie or anything that makes you comfortable. Obviously, if you never wear a hoodie and it's not "you," don't go out and buy one for the shoot. Think about how you want to represent yourself and wear what you like.
I have facial hair. Should I shave first?
It's your call. If you normally have a beard and go to auditions with a beard, then by all means, you should have a beard in your headshots. If you're normally clean-shaven, then you should be clean-shaven for the shoot. You can also shave halfway through the session.
Any other recommendations?
Get a good night’s sleep before the shoot! Don’t go out partying the night before. If you’re sick, we can reschedule. Also, please brush and floss before the shoot so your teeth look their best.
Should I use a makeup artist?
I recommend using a makeup artist if you're not used to doing your makeup all the time for auditions. Right now I can recommend Michelle Jack, who I have worked with and is talented, relaxed, nice, and a cool gal. If interested, I can see when Michelle is available and we can work out the schedule from there. You would always pay the makeup artist directly.
How many photos do you take?
Enough. I am more concerned with quality over quantity, so rather than take thousands of quickly-snapped shots, I focus more on each individual image. I delete the unusable ones and only give you the ones worthy enough for a headshot.
Can I see what the photos look like as you're taking them?
Yes! I will show you some of them on my camera as we go. I like to do this so I can give pointers about posture and expression, and so people know what they look like.
I wear glasses. Should I wear them for my headshots?
I recommend shooting some with and some without. If you normally wear glasses, then we should take mostly glasses photos, and vice versa.
If you are able to pop out your lenses, it will eliminate glare and make it much easier for me to focus on your eyes. If you can't pop them out, I can work around any glare.
Can I make a silly face?
Please do! And if you don't do it on your own naturally, I will probably get you to make a silly face at some point (see my "Fun Pics"). It loosens people up (both mentally and physically) and makes them smile and relax. And I can delete it if you hate it. But you won't hate it.
This is my first set of headshots. How should I present myself in them?
An overall note, especially for those looking to do commercial work: it's helpful to know your "type" (typical kind of role you'd book based on your appearance) before you get headshots taken. Watch commercials and think about which roles you would get cast in based on your appearance. I'm not saying every piece of clothing you bring should fit into one type of personality, but it's something to consider when choosing clothing.
If you're just starting out, considering your type might be difficult to do by yourself. If you're new to auditioning, I recommend taking a commercial course and getting input from casting directors and agents.
I've actually taken a couple of commercials courses myself, as well as many classes at UCB Theatre. I've also auditioned for commercials, although I stopped doing that years ago when I realized I hated it. I am more than happy to share my own experiences and advice with you!
Do you retouch photos?
Absolutely. I would like to retouch any of my photos that get posted online, printed, or released in any way. I'm a gentle but detailed retoucher – I will spend as much time as I need to in order to get it right, but I never want it to look fake, plastic, or overly glamorous. I will not erase all of your lines or do “plastic surgery.” I want it to look real and natural, yet polished. Like you on a great day.
When can I get my headshots?
After you tell me which ones you’d like retouched, I can generally get them to you within 24-48 hours.
Can I have ALL of the photos?
I did this for many years but, unfortunately, way too many unretouched shots have gotten out there. Many people, surely with good intentions, have posted my photos online that were not edited for white balance, brightness, contrast, skin, hair, and more. As a result, this makes it look like I do sloppy work. Going forward, I will show clients all of the shots in an online gallery but will only hand over the retouched images.
Can I post my headshots online?
Yes! I ask that you credit me, preferably with a link to or mention of this website. You can also credit me on instagram as @ariscottpics. I no longer use my photography page on Facebook and I prefer not to be credited with my personal Facebook account, as I really only use that for staying in touch with close friends and family.
Can I post my headshots on Instagram with a filter?
Honestly, I spend a lot of time editing headshots to make sure the white balance is perfect. With filters that add different colors and tones, this makes it look like I either didn’t edit them correctly OR that I edited them with the filter – this is confusing for potential clients and messes with the consistency of my work. I’d rather people not place filters over my photos but since I can’t control every image out there, I ask that if you do, you at least mention that you placed the filter on it, not me.
How do I get my headshots printed?
I highly recommend Reproductions for headshot printing. They've been doing it for a long time and most of my clients in New York have used them. Visit their site to decide which package is right for you. If you're just starting out, I recommend getting the minimum of 50 prints.
If you'd prefer fewer than 50 prints for the time being, I recommend going to a place like Kinko's or CVS. If you do, I can email you copies with a border and your name at no extra cost.
How did you get your start in photography?
I've loved to document things through photography since I was a kid. I've always had some type of camera. Prior to 2007, I had a point-and-shoot that I would take with me everywhere, but I hated how little control I had over the photos. In April 2007, I bought a slightly-used DSLR from a friend and just experimented for about a year. I was mostly taking pictures of improv shows at the time for fun. I didn't intend to do it for a living – I just enjoyed it. As a student at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, I was there all the time with my camera. Performers and students started asking me for headshots, and it took off from there.
Since then, I've taken headshots of hundreds of actors and comedians from all over NYC. I've also taken headshots in Washington, D.C., Burlington, VT, and Los Angeles.
Have you ever had your headshot taken?
Yes, a few times. I think this is part of what makes me a considerate photographer. I know how you feel. It can be weird to have a camera pointed at your face by someone you don't know. I want you to be relaxed and comfortable. That's my main goal.
Will you show me your awkward black & white headshot from 1997?