Pageant photoshoot ideas

Pageant photoshoot ideas DEFAULT

How to take your own pageant headshot (8 Steps)

Taking your own pageant headshot is never something I advise my pageant coaching clients to do. But, I understand that a photoshoot with a hair and makeup artist might be out of the budget. If taking your own pageant headshot, as a last resort, these are steps to help your image to look as professional as possible.

1. Hair and Makeup

I strongly recommend hiring a hair and makeup artist for your photoshoot. Professional quality hair and makeup can make a huge difference for your image. I discuss this in detail in another blog post, if you need some more guidance on this. If you cannot hire someone to do your hair and makeup you have two other options: take a professional hair and makeup lesson or watch some Youtube makeup tutorials. Keep in mind that your hair and makeup should be age appropriate for your pageant system.

Brittany Link Pageant Headshot

2. Research your pageant system

Researching the type of photos that are appropriate for your age division and pageant system is a crucial step. Google and search on social media for images of contestant headshots from past contestants and titleholder. Pay attention to lighting, wardrobe, hair, makeup, and facial expressions, to get a better idea of what you should plan to capture for your own headshot.

…my first pageant headshot was a selfie taken in my mom’s van.

Dani Walker

3. Say no to selfies

You might be wondering, “who would use a selfie for their pageant headshot?” I can tell you, I’ve seen more selfies, or Snapchat filtered pics submitted as official headshot than I can count. And, I’m embarrassed to say that my first pageant headshot was a selfie taken in my mom’s van. (We all start somewhere right?) If you have to take your own photo, use a tripod and a self-timer.

Matt Boyd Pageant Headshot of Megan Gordon

4. Ask a friend to take your photo

If you happen to have a friend who’s a photographer, or friend that has a professional camera (and knows how to use it), awesome! Asking a friend to take your photo can be very helpful. Kindly ask your friend if they would take your pageant headshot for you. If they agree, don’t forget to say thank you with a card, taking them out for a coffee, or maybe even lunch.

Click HERE for more tips on capturing a great image

Zac Grimaldo pageant headshot of Kirby Lindley, Miss Texas Teen USA

If don’t have access to a professional camera, don’t fret…

Dani Walker

5. Use a smart phone

If you don’t have access to a professional camera, don’t fret, most smart phones shoot in 1080p, which will work for your pageant headshot. The key when using a smart phone is to take your photo with the back lens, not the front facing selfie lens. The back lens of your smart phone camera can shoot in a higher photo resolution, this means that your image will be a larger file size and have more clarity. Don’t forget to adjust the lighting setting on your camera so your image is not too dark or washed out.

Matt Boyd Youth contestant pageant headshot

6. Shoot on a plain background

Do your best to take your headshot against a plain background. This will help to reduce any distractions in the back, to make sure the focus of the image is on you. If you are using an iPhone to take your photo, try taking some shots in portrait mode. This will blur the photo background, much like a professional camera would do, and eliminate any background noise.

7. Plan your wardrobe

Choose several different options for your wardrobe. Shooting in different outfits, against various backgrounds will have different effects, and will give you multiple options to choose from for your pageant headshot. I recommend wearing bright, solid, colored clothing, with minimal jewelry. Wardrobe is usually casual for headshots. You do not need to wear a cocktail dress or a gown. Typically those outfits are over the top for a pageant headshot and not necessary. As I mentioned early, take a look at some recent headshots from queens or contestants, within your age division and pageant system to get an idea of what’s appropriate to wear.

8. Photo editing

After you’ve selected your pageant headshot, don’t forget about editing. I don’t suggest Facetuning every pore of your skin, or photoshopping a new jawline. However, minor photo editing can certainly help make your photo stand out. Retouching out minor blemishes, defining your eyes or adjusting lighting in your photo can help to give it a professional quality. Just don’t go overboard. Your headshot should bear a close resemblance to your in-person self.

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Filed Under: PageantsTagged With: Pageants


Creative Senior Picture Idea | Pageant Queen x Softball Player

Orange County Senior Photographer | Senior Picture Ideas
Creative senior picturre idea for softball players.png

If so, you’ll want to see this. This senior wanted to combine her love for competing on stage in pageants with competing on the field playing softball. The solution was simple: mix the two!

With over 1 million views on TikTok, this video proves that it’s a super fun (and versatile) idea! Try this for your senior portraits with two of your passions. We’re shooting a basketball player/homecoming queen next week!

Click here to see the viral video.

Are you or someone you know ready to book a high school or college senior session?

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Posing, Lighting Tips | Top Pageant Portrait Photographer | model Miss Maryland, Hannah Brewer

Pageant & Portrait Photography Tips


1. Keep it fun and loose

Keep your model moving. I constantly make suggestions such as “shoulders facing away from the light, turn your head back towards light, eyes down, chin up etc “, helping her into flattering body positions under the lighting that I created.

2. Create lighting that allows movement

Taking into consideration the inverse square law of light, I move my strobe far enough away from the model so when she moves it doesnt substantially alter the exposure. In many of the images we created during this session, I used a one light setup. I put the model close to the background and set a Profoto beauty dish with diffuser far enough back (6-10′) to act as both key and fill light. This created a rather hard light which demanded an acute awareness and control over where the shadows were cast.

Most of the images were shot at about 1/125, f10, 200 iso, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens, using a Profoto Compact-R 600 strobe.

3. Guide the model into positions of movement

For example, not necessarily all at one time of course, but generally speaking we want angles and curves, not straight lines …. bends in the elbows, knees, wrists, and shoulders facing one way and the head another, a twist at the hips, weight on one foot, one shoulder up, one shoulder down, or shoulders back, arched back, chest out, one arm up one down etc..

4. Help the model create a variety of facial expressions

Experiment. I try to elicit different expressions from the model as best I can so they feel real. We are looking for a range, from big smiles to a cute pout, and everything in between. Closed lips no teeth, partial smile, eyes closed, looking down, looking up etc. Keep making suggestions to the model, saying encouraging words. Keep the model moving, changing expressions and taking pictures often. When it doesnt look great suggest something else. Pay close attention, and when something works, jump on it. Explore it. Take a quite a few images making slight changes.


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Photoshoot ideas pageant

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It was as if I was shocked. It was so good to taste the taste of her lips and the softness of her skin. When we went to bed, this can be expressed in words from the song of the Tokyo-Tenderness group (falling asleep holding hands strongly, I was very.

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