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Everything You Need to Know About Pageant Headshots

10, December 2018

Pageant headshots... your chance to show the judges your best side before you walk into competition. With so much pressure on just one photograph, how do you create the perfect pageant headshot? How should you wear your hair for a pageant headshots photoshoot? How about your makeup? We've made it easy for you to look like your best self in your pageant headshots with this comprehensive guide. 

If you're looking for a pageant headshot photographer, check out our Pageant Photographers Directory. You can head here if you're looking for a pageant makeup and hair artist, check our selection of Hair and Makeup Artists. Would you like your services to be listed for pageant contestants to find? Create a free account here.

2017 POA Superstar. Hair/Makeup by Jamie Stacy. Photo: @JamieStacy Instagram. 

Use the table of contents below to get answers to all your questions!

What are pageant headshots?

How do I take a pageant headshot?

What do I need to bring to a pageant headshot photoshoot?

What are the best pageant headshots poses?

What should I wear for pageant headshots?

What jewelry should I wear for pageant headshots?

Pageant headshot tips to take great pageant headshots

Do I need a pageant headshots photographer?

What to consider when selecting a pageant headshots photographer

How do I find a pageant headshots photographer?

How much should pageant headshots cost with editing?

How should my pageant headshot be edited?

How do I do my hair for pageant headshots?

How do I do pageant headshots makeup?

Do I need a hair and makeup artist for pageant headshots?

What to consider when selecting a pageant headshots hair and makeup artist

How do I find a pageant headshots hair and makeup artist?

How much should a hair and makeup artists cost for pageant headshots?


Photo: Select Studios

What are pageant headshots?

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone and Allie J Hoffman

Natural and scholarship pageants

If you are new to pageantry or have never gotten a pageant headshot done before, you may not understand why this particular photo is such a big deal. It is easy to minimize the impact that a good pageant headshot can have on your success in pageantry, but any seasoned pageant girl knows that they are a crucial tool in her pageant arsenal.

A pageant headshot is a very powerful tool. At the very least it will help get the judges to notice you. At its best, it can help you to win the crown. It’s kind of like your calling card. The judges see it before they see you. That one pageant headshot begins the process of those judges being interested in you, intrigued by you and anticipating when they get to actually meet you. A good pageant headshot combined with a solid pageant bio is most definitely a winning combination. You still have to do well in your interview, but when you start off the process with an exceptional photo along with a killer bio about you and what you’ve been doing with your title, you are on your way to “Top 10” status. 

It’s so imperative that your pageant headshot not only looks like you at your best, but it also must look exactly like you. A lot of times, contestants get a pageant headshot taken and they get their hair and makeup done in such a way that they look like a Hollywood starlet. They’re wearing clothes that they wouldn’t ordinarily wear, their makeup has completely changed their face and their hair extensions are blowing all around from the fan, and they just don’t look anything like the girl they really are.   

It’s a lot of fun to get your photograph taken by a star pageant photographer and to have your hair and makeup done by a team of experts. It’s easy to get carried away by the glitz and the glamour of the experience but, the goal of your pageant headshot is not to capture a makeover experience. The pageant headshot is not about creating a fantasy photo at all. The goal is to capture you looking your most beautiful and yet still looking like the person you are most of the time.

Yes, you’re going to be wearing fabulous mink eyelashes, and yes, you’ll be sitting in perfect halo-like lighting. Ultimately, the final image has got to be recognizable as the person who walks into that interview room, or else you are going to start off on a sour note with those judges. For a Teen contestant, it is crucial that your pageant headshot looks exactly like you. You don’t want to overdo the hair, makeup and wardrobe and end up making yourself look 10 years older. You don’t want to confuse the judges by looking like a Miss contestant.

If you’re not sure what look you should be going for, it’s a good idea to study the headshots of prior titleholders in your pageant system if you can. Your director is also a valuable resource when it comes to knowing what is appropriate for your age group.

Find the right photographer

The most important thing to consider before you get your pageant headshot done is to make sure that your photographer is in fact, a professional pageant photographer. Krisna Goodwin, who is the owner of Goodwin Photography and also the official photographer for the Miss Virginia America and Miss Virginia America’s Outstanding Teen pageants, explained the importance.

“The most important aspect of taking a good picture is getting a good photographer," Goodwin said. "Pageant headshots are very important in many systems because this is the very first impression that the judge has of the contestant. It needs to be professional, yet realistic. You want to give the judge an accurate representation of yourself. It is all about interpretation; very few people look attractive with the camera super close to their face. Therefore, the range for a headshot should be anywhere from slightly above the waist to just beneath the shoulders.”

Take a look at your photographer’s portfolio and be certain that they not only have a lot of experience taking pageant style headshots, but that they have the ability and skill to capture contestants in a way that flatters their natural look and brings out their personality. Do not compromise on this point or you will waste valuable money and time. We’ve seen it time and time again. A girl will try to save money and she’ll have photos done with somebody’s cousin who is trying to get a photography business started. They will tell her that they need models for their book and they’ll give her a great deal!

Meanwhile, the photographer has only shot some low-key weddings and family photos and they have no clue what a real pageant headshot should look like.

A beautiful natural headshot of Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin.
Photo: Jessie Palumbo @jessiepalumbo 
Hair: @I_am_zullay
Makeup: Angelica Alberti @absolutelyangelicamua

You might come away with some nice images of yourself, but they will not be up to the caliber of photos that the judges are expecting to see. Remember, the judges see your headshot weeks before they see you, in most cases. That is your very first opportunity to make an impression on them, and that first impression is very difficult to change if your photo is not a good one.

If you do not take the time to invest in a professional pageant headshot, your photo will look so out of place among all the other contestants that you will look like an amateur. The judges might still think you’re a nice person and sweet girl, but they will not see you as a potential queen that they want to entrust with the crown.

Hire a hair and makeup artist

The second thing that you want to do when thinking about your headshot is to hire the best hair and makeup artists that you can afford. Please don’t attempt to do your own hair and makeup unless you are extremely skilled and capable of creating the right look for what you need. You have to understand photography and how much makeup to apply. Photography is not real life and the camera sees things differently.

Having a pageant headshot done is kind of like purchasing your evening gown. It is a very carefully researched and deliberately planned event. It’s not something you do on a whim.

The pageant headshot is such a major part of the entire public relations package that you are presenting to the judges. It is the only visual representation of you and it has to represent not only your personal brand, but also the brand of the pageant that you are competing in. When the judges first see your photo, they have one question in their minds; “Is she or isn’t she queen material?” If your pageant headshot does not pass that initial test, you run the risk of having to work even harder to win them over.

It might not seem fair that you are being judged so harshly before they’ve even had the opportunity to meet you. Look at it this way, your pageant headshot is something that you can control. There are so many elements of pageantry and competing in a pageant that are out of your hands and that you really have limited or no control over whatsoever.

You must then take full control over the things that you can have an impact on. Your headshot is one of those things. Do some research, ask for referrals and do your homework on photographers, makeup artists and hair stylists in your area. Take your time, plan ahead and take ownership of this very important piece of your pageant brand.

Don’t forget that Pageant Planet is here to help you out! We have a fantastic directory of professional photographers, makeup artists and hair stylists, as well as a store guide for wardrobe items, such as pageant gowns and clothing that you may need to purchase for your shoot. We also carry makeup, hair extensions and top of the line beauty products in our online store that were designed with you in mind.

Glitz pageants

We’ve all seen those iconic photographs of little girls edited to look like dolls. They can evoke a sense of confusion and have caused major backlash in the pageant community. However, to those of us that love the ‘sport’ of pageantry, they are what make up a big part of the Glitz pageantry world. What we see in our pageant divas may seem strange to others but to the moms, coaches and photographers of the industry, we are simple just letting our little ones play dress up! Who doesn’t take pictures of their little ones all dressed up? To us, it’s no different! 

Ani Hoffman in all her glitz glory with makeup done by Allie Hoffman and editing by Mary Burks. Photo: Allie Hoffman. 

“Glitz pageant headshots are a head and shoulder shot that are more retouched than naturals, their attire is typically more fancy than every day clothing,” expert photographer, Toni Overby said. Toni could not be more spot on. As a whole the makeup, hair and attire in a glitz photo is going to be more exaggerated than a natural photo. The concept of the photo is still the same as a natural pageant headshot; to capture a beautiful child. The photo will still be a headshot, mid chest to above the head.

There are quite a few myths that many may assume when it comes to glitz pictures. The biggest myth I’ve heard over the years is that children’s actual features will be changed to show the perfect version of a child. When in reality, the child's features are not changed. An editor may brighten up the child’s natural features, but a great edited photo will still look like the child once it is done. Other things that can be edited are hair, makeup, tweaking on eye color and background. Natural and glitz photos may have the same things edited, however in glitz photos the amount of makeup used and hair added is more.

To understand more about what a glitz photo is and to see the differences in glitz versus natural, let’s take a look at a natural to glitz pageant headshot comparison of Madelyn Salisbury. The picture below is her natural headshot. In this photo, she has very little makeup on, the picture is positioned from mid chest and up. The focus of the photo is her face, her hair is loose and very natural looking. She has great eye contact, her face is fresh looking and she looks neat and presentable. She is wearing normal attire with the additional focal point being her accessory of a hat and scarf. Her background is out of focus and accessories are not visible. What a beautiful picture!

Madelyn Salisbury natural pageant headshot. Photo: 4forty4 Photography

Just as beautiful a picture is her glitz photo shown below. Although her pictures are a few year apart, we can still tell in the glitz picture that it is the same child. You will see here that the makeup is much more than a natural photo but the photo is still positioned from mid chest and up, like that of her natural photo. For the photoshoot she had very little makeup up and the rest was added on by a well-trained retouch artist. The focus of this photo is still her face, her hair is bold and polished. She has great eye contact, and even with more dramatic makeup, her face is the main focus. Her attire is eye catching and complementary, she is wearing very few accessories and her background complements her attire, eye color and complexion.

Madelyn Salisbury glitz headshot. Photo: Belle Visage. HMUA: Michael Booth.

Hopefully now you have a better idea of what your glitz photo should look like. Be sure to click on our other tabs to read about what to wear for your glitz photo and more!

How do I take a pageant headshot?

Contribution by Devon Knightner

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, shouldn’t you make sure to control the narrative with the judges? How do you do that? Take a killer pageant headshot, of course. Now you’re asking yourself the same question… how do I do that?! Your headshot speaks mounds to the judges, staff, crew and the pageant directors. With a little help from Pageant Planet, we can help you soar that most photogenic title in no time.

Photo: Select Studios

In advance of the photoshoot

Unlike acting or modeling headshots, a professional and their team should be hired to ensure proper quality pageant headshots. A clean and elegant look is always a good place to start. This simple statement applies to everything from makeup all the way down to the final shot of your photoshoot. The best way to get a great picture is to get a fabulous photographer. For example, Lyndzie Hack Photography has a massive list of clients who’ve won photogenic awards at Local, State and National Levels. This is the caliber of pageant photographer you should be seeking to execute your flawless pageant headshots.

Photo: Lyndzie Hack

Need help with locating a photographer in your area? Is the sponsored pageant photographer of your current pageant out of reach? No worries, glam goddess! Pageant Planet has a directory to explore our photographer database to discover event and headshot photographers who can capture the professional image you are looking for. Use our filtering options to narrow your search and find the perfect photographer. Check us out!

Now you’ve located your photographer, now what? Lights, camera, action? Not just yet. Before your shoot, you need to get ample rest. No pageant queen has ever been crowned with $80 worth of groceries under her eyes! So beauty sleep is exactly what it means! 

Next, make sure you have a clean face and clean hair for your shoot. This makes it easier for your glam squad to give you the perfect look. Make sure your nails are clean and manicured.

At the photoshoot

While you’re in hair and makeup, get some good music and vibes going. For your pageant headshots, you’ll want the entire experience to be as comfortable, professional and seamless as possible.

Know your lighting, take your time and just have fun. Relax, breathe and allow the photographer and their team highlight your beauty through their eye. 

Photo: Lyndzie Hack Photography

What do I need to bring to a pageant headshot photoshoot?

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone

The first thing to do when you are planning what to take to your pageant headshot photoshoot is to consult your photographer. They will likely have a lot of information on their website for you already, so start out there.

The majority of pageant headshots photographers have set packages for their clients to choose from. This allows you to select how many “looks” you want to purchase, based on how much you want to spend. Usually, their packages are designed with options like one, three and five “looks” for every photoshoot. This means that you get to have your photo taken in one, three or five outfits. Generally, your hair and makeup does not change that much for each look, however, you might have a minimal change like your lip color perhaps, if it looks better with one of the outfits that you are going to wear.

Once you know how many looks you are planning to do at the photoshoot, you can begin planning the outfits that you want to use. A good photographer will always make suggestions about colors or styles that he or she thinks would look best on you. Since a headshot is literally a shot of your head, accessories like shoes, belts and purses are not important. You want to concentrate on the neckline of your garment, the colors you plan to wear and jewelry like earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Check out what wardrobe colors can help you win a pageant:

Bring tops or dresses that have flattering necklines for you, and be sure to find items that have colors that make you look sensational. You also want to feel good about yourself in whatever you wear because it will make a difference in the final product.

It’s totally ok to bring a formal dress or evening gown for your photoshoot if the color, style and neckline is beautiful on you. Even though the photographer won’t be taking a full body photo of you in your gown, the neckline or details like beading or stoning are sure to be breathtaking in your photo. Don’t be afraid to take some chances and bring clothing that you’re not sure about. If you bought a top or a dress and it’s a bit fancy or you’ve just never had an occasion to wear it but you love it anyway, then bring it along.

It’s always a good idea to bring more clothes than you need. Just because you are only doing three looks, does not mean that you should only bring three garments. Definitely bring extra clothing items and jewelry with you so that you and the photographer can decide on the best options.

Taking a photograph with a professional is always a creative endeavor and you work together to achieve the final product. You may bring something that you’re not sure about that totally inspires the photographer and all of a sudden you have a cool, new look for your headshot that sets you apart from everyone else!

Finally, don’t forget to take care of your hands before your photoshoot. You just never know when the photographer might suggest including your hand in one of the shots. Often, people forget about their hands and they don’t get a manicure before their shoot. When you do get a manicure, choose a light-colored, neutral nail polish that blends well with your skin tone. If you absolutely cannot get a manicure, at least make sure buff up your nails.

What are the best pageant headshots poses?

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone and Allie J Hoffman

Natural and scholarship pageants

Learning to pose for a pageant headshot or any other kind of photo takes some willingness to learn and it requires a lot of patience and practice. Most inexperienced girls will pose in ways that they’ve seen in magazines or on television or other social media. That is not always a good way to approach posing for a photo.

There are more “duck face” kissy photos on Instagram than there are stars in the universe and it’s not a good look. Yet, girls are still taking those hideous selfies all the time. The best way to learn what the best pageant headshot poses are is to actually see good, quality headshots with your own eyes. You will never know what your end result is supposed to look like until you learn what a good headshot is supposed to look like.

This is your lucky day, dear pageant girl, because Pageant Planet has lots of great articles with terrific headshots in them, as well as having many beautiful headshots throughout all of our social media. Pageant Planet Duchess of Media Content, Deidra Murphy has also created this helpful video to teach you how to pose during your photoshoot. This video includes awesome examples from pageant headshot experts like Goodwin Photography, Select Studios, Kathy Whittaker Photography and Lyndzie Hack Photography.

One of the very best articles to check out is the Best Pageant Headshots article. Every year, we celebrate the Best in Pageantry and we give out awards for outstanding examples of different pageant-related categories. One of those categories is for the best pageant headshots and we have them for every age division in the pageant world. You just need to go look up the headshots for each year in whatever age division that you want to see.

You will be endlessly inspired by all of the stunning contestants and their headshots. These photos were chosen because each image has managed to capture not only a gorgeous image of the titleholder, but she has fantastic hair and makeup, is wearing the ideal shades for her unique coloring and she is posing in a way that is exceptionally flattering for her.

Why don’t we explore some of these pageant headshots so that you can see for yourself? Pay close attention to the details of each photo and to the description of each pageant headshot as it was written in the article. This is a great way to learn how to replicate these same poses on your own, and be your best in your next pageant headshot.  

Straight to camera pose

The straight to camera pose is one of the most common poses in pageant headshot photography. It is usually a beginning place when you start a photo session. It’s a great foundational pose to begin with and you can easily begin moving and changing things around from there. It’s also a very easy pose for people who may not be very comfortable in front of the camera yet. It does not require a lot of physical contortion or discomfort and it’s a way to get a nice, relaxed shot of your subject.

Just because this is a beginning pose does not mean that it can’t be pretty sensational. When this pose is done correctly, it can have a very powerful effect on the viewer. For one thing, since this pose is so straight forward, it really relies on the eyes of the subject to be focused and full of life.

A straight to camera pose is not just staring straight at the camera. It is harnessing all of your energy in a way that you direct your focus and feelings to the camera, in a very deliberate and intense manner. When you can do that, it absolutely knocks people over. See for yourself!

International Junior Miss Volunteer State Junior Teen 2017, Presly Pedigo. Photo: Presly Pedigo Instagram

Miss Zilker Park USA 2018, Allison Drake. Photo: Grant Foto

                                                                                                                                     Mrs. North America Universe 2017, Janelle Woods McNish. Photo: Georgina Vaughan

Chin to shoulder pose

The chin to shoulder pose is a very popular style of pageant headshot photography and can be quite charming. This type of pose has the benefit of making the subject look warm, open and likeable. Even though this is a pose that you see a lot in headshots, it can be very tricky to accomplish. You cannot turn your head too far towards the shoulder or else it looks off-balance and unnatural. You cannot lower your chin down too far, or you create shadows under your eyes and a double chin. You cannot raise your shoulder up too far or else it distorts your neck.

A good photographer knows how to direct their subject into this kind of pose without making the girl look strange or lose the beautiful effect of light on her face. When you get all of those things right and everything comes together perfectly, you have got yourself a winning headshot!

Miss Nevada Teen USA 2017, Alexis Smith. Photo: Georgina Vaughan Photography

Miss Lubbock Texas USA 2017, Paris Regan. Photo: Grant Foto

Mrs. Rhode Island America 2017, Amy Diaz. Photo: Daniel Gagnon

Hands to chin or face pose

Putting your chin on your hand or resting your hand against your face in a photograph is used in all different kinds of photography. You actually see it a lot in children’s photography. The reason is because kids can get very nervous in front of a camera and they do not have the maturity to be able to manifest their emotions in their eyes. You can always take a candid shot of a child laughing and being natural, but it’s hard to take a shot of them being serious. Photographers rely on poses like this to a great shot.

This type of pose will only work for a teen or an adult woman if it is not too posed. When an older person puts their hand to their chin, for instance, it can instantly look like a glamour shot that you took at the mall. All you need is an elbow length glove and a pearl necklace. Basically, it will look cheesy and make you look like an amateur.

Only do this pose with a seasoned photographer and with the right emotion. If you do put your hand to your chin or your face, do not fully relax into the pose and put the weight of your head against your hand, or else your face gets distorted and wrinkly. You must just gently rest your hand on your face or chin. You absolutely have to be aware of what you’re doing with this kind of pose and do it selectively.

As you can see, when a rock star photographer makes this pose work with a gorgeous pageant girl, magic can definitely happen!

Miss Mississippi 2017, Anne Elizabeth Buys. Photo: Matt Boyd Photography

Ms. Woman Nevada United States 2017, Katie Kelley. Photo: Georgina Vaughan

Ms. Galaxy 2018, Jessica Schiff. Photo: Grant Foto

Unusual poses or ¾ shots

Unusual poses where the subject has her hands or arms in the shot are becoming increasingly more popular in pageant headshot photography. This style is most often a longer shot, called a ¾ shot, rather than a tightly framed face shot. They are a bit risky as they are not the most common, and they can be challenging to achieve.

The photographer has to be able to pose the subject without making it look too posed and stiff. When it’s done successfully, it can really be quite fun and attention-getting. It’s a great style to showcase a girl’s personality, and can get the judges to sit up and take notice.

Teen Arkansas International 2017, Maggie Williams. Photo: Miss Teen International 2017 Twitter

Miss Earth Venezuela 2017, Ninoska Vasquez. Photo: Georgina Vaughan

Ms. Texas America 2018, Sarah Marie Ramsey. Photo: Grant Foto

Mrs. Florida America 2017, Tatiana Sidorova. Photo: Tatiana Sidorova

Side to camera pose

It is totally acceptable to turn away from the camera as long as you can maintain an emotional connection with it. It is so important to be able to show emotion in your eyes when you are having your picture taken, and there’s no better example of this than a photogenic girl utilizing a side pose in a shot.

When you turn your body away from a camera, you lose a lot of the interesting visual details. The viewer cannot see very much of your outfit, neckline or jewelry any longer. Your hair, body shape and bone structure can get lost in a side shot, so, you have got to bring back that interest, energy and focus through your facial expression and your eyes.

Miss Mississippi Teen USA 2017, Hannah Claire Chisolm. Photo: The Pageant Buzz

Ms. Earth 2017, Kristin Chucci. Photo: Carlos Velez

Looking back over the shoulder pose

The type of pose where the subject is looking back over the shoulder, at the camera is very unusual and rare. The reason is that it is an extremely difficult pose to pull off and the subject has to have really phenomenal bone structure, a natural looking face angle and it cannot look uncomfortable or too staged.

It’s actually very ironic because this kind of a shot can be physically uncomfortable for the subject because she has to twist herself around and look at the camera without scrunching up her neck or face, and without looking as if she is straining at all. Yet ,when you have a capable subject and a talented photographer, you achieve a look that appears effortless, like you just looked back quickly and click!

This type of headshot has a wow factor that cannot be denied. If you and your photographer can find a way to shoot using this type of pose, you may just create one of the best shots you have ever taken in your life.

Miss Arkansas Teen USA 2017, Allison Tucker. Photo: Zac Grimaldo

Mrs. Nevada America 2017, Stephanie Barrett. Photo: Georgina Vaughan

Glitz pageants

We’ve all been there - our outfit is on, makeup is on point but my goodness - what do I do with my hands!? As a former model and pageant girl myself, I know all too well how hard it is to stand in front of a camera and showcase my personality with just my face! Although everyone looks great with a smile, a pose can help the overall appeal of the photo. Glitz headshots can utilize many different poses and faces.

Zoey with hair and makeup by Toni Overby. Photo: Toni Overby. 

"No pose"

When it comes to glitz headshots, pageant hair and makeup artist, designer and photographer Toni Overby is an expert. “The best poses are the ones that showcase the face," Toni said. "The most important part of any photograph is a beautiful face.”

Take for example the photo above. Zoey has a serious stare and her beautiful face is not being covered up by her hands or arms. However, although it may not be considered a pose, the side tilt added to her photo helps draw attention to her. A tilt like this is added during editing, after all we wouldn’t expect her to sit sideways (could you imagine her hair all going to one side?). A side tilt is a common edit in glitz pictures. This is best added to a picture where the hands are completely down.

Showing hands

Our next pose is showing hands. There are many variations to this pose. The younger girls may decide to have both hands together in ‘prayer hands’ under one side of the head. Another popular pose is fists together and slightly under the chin. Our next example is Emma pictured below. With this pose, Emma has one hand just next to her jaw line with her fingers tucked in. The other hand is just below the chin with fingers almost all tucked in. Her hands are not distracting, they don’t press on any part of her face and are neatly tucked in together.

Emma with her hand pose. Photo: Toni Overby. 

Arms up

Our last pose is with arms up. Take for example Zeelee as pictured below. Here, Zeelee has one hand pinched together next to her chin. Notice how the finger are gently touching and not pressing into her skin as doing that would interfere with her natural facial shape. Her other hand is tucked behind her head with her arm straight up next to her head. Again, this pose completes the picture. Because the hands and fingers are tucked in and neat looking, the hands and fingers do to take away from the overall appeal. There is a variation of this pose where both arms are straight up and hands are tucked behind the head. That variation can be tricky as it takes up a lot more space in the photo and may take away from the face.

Zeelee. Photo: Toni Overby

What should I wear for pageant headshots?

Contribution by Devon Knightner and Allie J Hoffman

Natural and scholarship pageants

Every pageant delegate knows how important a pageant headshot is and how it’s the fastest way to impress the judges. How else are they going to know it’s you? Most pageants make it mandatory for a contestant to submit at least one pageant headshot to be in the program book and online outlets. If it isn’t mandatory to submit a pageant headshot, that doesn’t mean you should bask in such news.  If there’s a pageant book, there is absolutely no reason or valid excuse for your pageant headshot is NOT in it! The judges need to recognize you.

Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin. Photo: Yachin Parham

Depending on the level of pageant you are participating in (i.e. High School Pageant to Miss America), the caliber of photos and wardrobe should be complementary to your current pageant. No need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on wardrobe and photography for a high school pageant. Of course, the same goes for not being able to use your neighbor’s best friends iPhone photography startup company to take your headshots for the Miss USA pageant either. When picking what you’re going to wear for your pageant headshots, do your pageant research first.

What’s the look and brand of the pageant that you’re participating in? What do last years pageant contestant photos look like? Staring here will help guide you through your wardrobe choices for your upcoming pageant headshot photoshoot. As a basic rule, pageant headshot wardrobes should be solid with no busy prints or fabric distractions. 

Miss District of Columbia USA 2018 Bryca Armstrong. Photo: Getty Images/IMG Universe, LLC.

You can get some of your best ideas from Pageant Planet, of course. Looking for a specific dress worn by a previous titleholder or celebrity? Use our filtering options to find a store near you to contact them about the dress or to find something similar. Want retailers to contact you about the dress? Click, “Find a Dress” to upload the dress and we will have them contact them you! You can also click here!

Bring several outfits with an array of colors for the photographer to choose from. Everyone has taken a selfie so practice your poses and try different colors you’d want to see yourself in.  Make sure your fabrics are more on the silky side. Textured fabrics look great however, in headshots the fabric can read as worn or cheap. Remember to exude confidence and get ready to take the shot that the judges will remember to crown!

Photo: Getty Images

Glitz pageants

Glitz pageant headshots can be a little tedious when figuring out what to wear. A contestant basically has three routes to choose from for her picture. While a photo topper is usually the more accepted attire, others will choose to wear their glitz dress or a very catchy and well put-together top with accessories.

Many contestants will wear their glitz bodice (or baby doll dress for the young ones) if a topper isn’t available. When using your glitz dress for your pageant headshot, make sure to have your hair accessory for the shoot and place it toward the hairline so it is very visible in the photo. Although it is a money saver, wearing your dress for your shoot runs the risk of affecting your overall score. A topper is a great option if you’d like to give the judges a variation of attire from stage to photo. Ages 12 and up may choose to wear their glitz dress or a well put-together outfit. At this age, not many contestants use a topper although it is still an option. Below is Mehayle Elliot using her glitz dress as her photo attire.

Mehayle Elliot wearing her glitz dress. Photo: Belle Visage. HMUA: Michael Booth

So, what is a glitz topper?

There is a lot of mystery surrounding what a glitz topper is. Simpy put, a photo topper is a piece of fabric that has many decorative pieces attached (glued and/or sewn) that will have accompanying jewelry and hair accessories. The topper is then wrapped around the child’s shoulders, usually with the arms inside, and clipped or fastened in the back.

Toppers usually don’t have any embellishments on the back or sides, since glitz shots are typically a front-facing photo. Toppers can be any type and color of material, and should have embellishments that are striking and add to the overall feel. The hair accessory for a topper can be something clipped in the hair like a barrette that matches, a head wrap, something that dangles across the forehead or even a hat. I’ve even seen toppers with arm pieces or gloves in case the hand is used in the picture. The whole point of the topper is to create something unique and extraordinary that you would not be able to find as a whole outfit.

Photo topper by Sharline Spears Photo: Sharline Spears

When wearing a topper for your shoot, you may want a camisole, bandeau top or a shirt with no straps to wear under your topper. Bottoms are not shown or used in your photo so make sure to pack comfortable bottoms to your shoot. The same goes for shoes, flip flops or slides are perfect when you will be shooting for a long period of time.

“Most people hire someone to make a photo topper for them," Toni Overby, a glitz pageant expert said. "You want something unique that compliment the child in both color and style. Interesting hate can also be good, but sometimes simple can make a good photo too. Accessories as just as important. When using a topper person you want to research them. Most toppers in glitz start about $65-$85.”

Custom toppers can run upwards of $150. When choosing a photo topper, keep in mind materials used. Toppers are not always made out of cotton or apparel knit fabrics so they can be itchy or irritating. Using something that may irritate your child is never good. Also keep in mind the color and the overall feel you want in your picture. Try out different colored shirts and dresses on your child before ordering.

Some contestants, especially teenagers, may choose to use a top with accessories instead of a topper or their gown. When choosing this option, be sure not to overthink your outfit. A seemingly plain shirt when layered with a vest and accessories can be more than enough. My favorite glitz for older girls is when they choose a slightly embellished shirt and play up their earrings. Don’t overdo your outfit, the focus is still always going to be the child! My suggestion is to take two to three different tops complete with accessories and see what the photographer and hair and makeup artist suggest! Try not to pack tops that are low cut or that have straps or sleeves. A layered look is always good!

What jewelry should I wear for pageant headshots?

Contribution by Devon Knightner and Allie J Hoffman

Natural and scholarship pageants

Marilyn Monroe always said, “Diamonds are a girl's best friend.” It’s super true, so wearing jewelry in your pageant headshot should be a no-brainer. Since you’ve entered a “natural” competition beauty pageant you should keep it simple, but glam-enhanced. You want to keep the focus on your lovely face and not on too many distractions.  Jewelry should complement your pageant look, not outshine you in the photo.

Each bracelet, rhinestone, gem or ring (which you shouldn’t be wearing unless you’re in a “Mrs.” Pageant) has the great potential of taking away from your beauty or enhance it. Remember you’re in a beauty pageant! Being overly blinged is fun for a photoshoot or out with the girls, but it won’t work to help you when pursuing the general title.

Samantha Reinecke 2018 Mrs. United States. Photo: Courtesy of mrsunitedstates.com

We love bold earrings that draw attention to your face. You should have a different pair of earrings for each outfit. If your budget will allow it, then shop away! If not, then go with a modern yet classic hoop earring. We believe a pageant hoop earrings go perfect with almost every phase of the competition and are a great option for many wardrobe options, which is why we decided to carry every color that we could find. In short, choosing a hoop earring for your assemble is almost always a safe bet.

Hoop Earrings by Jim Ball. Photo: pageant planet.com

Bring on the bling. You can get these earring and pages more on chandelier earrings go perfect with almost every phase of the competition and are a great option for many wardrobe options. Find them here!

Chandelier Tier Rhinestone Earrings by Jim Ball. Photo: pageant planet.com

Need help selecting your pageant wardrobe? Become a VIP Girl and we will help you shop for as little as $19! Need this earring customized in color to match your dress? Contact us to see how! 

Glitz pageants

We all want pictures that are perfect. After all, photo prizes can be just a prestigious a win as a stage category. If you are feeling that your attire just isn’t as put together as you’d like, then you may want to add in some jewelry. It can be difficult to decide which jewelry to pick when there are so many options. For glitz photos, what jewelry you wear will depend on what looks best with your attire.

“Jewelry should complement the attire," Designer and photographer, Toni Overby said. "Big, gaudy jewelry isn’t necessarily needed. Sometimes it works because it complements the child.”

Whether you are wearing a photo topper, your glitz bodice or a well-planned outfit always remember that the accessories should pull in the overall look of the photo, not overwhelm or distract from the child’s beauty. The face should always be the main focus point.                   

Ja'niya Cook. Photo: Toni Overby.

Let’s start with a photo that doesn’t need any accessories as an example. The beautiful Ja’Niya Cook, a nationally ranked competitor is photographed above with no visible accessories at all! Only her photo topper complete with a hair accessory is visible. In this case, her photo topper covers all of her neck, her hair covers her ears and her hair piece serves as both a hair accessory and head drape. Because of how complete her topper looks already, she does not need any jewelry. If she added anything, it may overwhelming!

Sarah Dodd. Photo: Amana Crane with edits by Mary Burks

One of my most favorite glitz pictures is the gorgeous Sarah Dodd pictured above. There is not one thing I would suggest differently about this photo from the smooth, full hairstyle, the color and styling of her topper and of course, her smile. In this photo, we notice the only additional jewelry she is wearing is earrings. I love that they kept the neck bare and let the focus go straight to her doll-like face. Her earrings are just the right length and add just a touch of texture and shine.

Katie Garza. Photo: Carmen Crocco.

A fun feature that is used in glitz photography is placing jewelry in unusual places. Take for example the sassy Katie Garza above. In addition to her beautiful red topper and hair piece, she has a silver with red choker on. But what makes this photo unique is the use of a chain of red beads in her hands. With hands clasped together, and away from the face, the use of the beads adds a cool accessory that make this photo a perfect 10 in my book! To use this look for your own photo, find a long necklace or bead chain that matches in color to your outfit or topper. Bead chains can be found at craft stores in the jewelry supply section.

Photo: Mary Burks

Another cool way to implement jewelry is using it on your forehead or hair. The stunning Ally, pictured above, has a necklace or small metal link chain placed on her head and drapes down onto her forehead. If using this feature, place the necklace away from the eyes and gently place as to not ruin or smush your hair. She is also wearing a textured bracelet and had earrings digitally added after the picture was taken. Notice how the added earrings match almost exactly the same color and size of stones that are on her bodice.

Photo: Carla Haas

Another favorite glitz headshot is the picture-perfect Breanna shown above. Besides her beautiful face, what’s so neat about this photo is her choker. Would you believe that it is most likely just a piece of fabric with crystals on it? It complements her topper and fits so well with her bigger than life hair and eye color. She is also wearing flower drop earrings that match the colors of the stones on her bodice.

If you are still not sure what jewelry to pack, don’t wear any jewelry at all! That’s right! With today’s technology, your photo editor can add in earrings that match your ensemble as if it were on the whole time! On the flip side, it you feel compelled to pack jewelry, then there is nothing wrong with throwing together a few earrings, a bracelet or two and maybe even a necklace, just in case. In my experience, when packing for a photoshoot, I lay out all my outfits and toppers and find jewelry I already own to add to it. I try to have different options for earrings at the very least.

Nowadays there are many stores that offer accessories. My go-to places for accessories are beauty supply stores and Sam Moon. If you are anything like me and love to thrift shop, sorting through pieces at your local thrift store may result in unique and cool pieces to finish off your look. Always remember you get what you pay for thrift shopping. Make sure to thoroughly check your second-hand item for missing or cracked stones, clasps and stay away form anything that may tarnish your skin. Clip-on earrings may prove to be more sanitary, and you should always clean gently used items prior to use.

Sometimes and especially when we are new to an environment, we can overthink what to bring and totally miss the mark, I know I did! If you ever have questions about what to bring, I highly recommend reaching out to your photographer and makeup artist for the shoot. In the instance that you cannot reach them, your coach is also a perfect reference for photos. Still searching for a coach, photographer or makeup artist? Then head over to our huge directory to find the perfect pageant guru for you!

Pageant headshot tips to take great pageant headshots

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone and Allie J Hoffman

Natural and scholarship pageants

Know and understand the brand of your pageant, as well as your personal brand

Before you even start researching pageant photographers to take your headshot and before you hit the mall looking for the perfect outfit that brings out the color of your eyes, you must know and understand the brand of your particular pageant system, as well as your own personal brand. The brand of your pageant will determine the look and feel of your pageant headshot, the type of photographer that you work with to achieve that headshot, as well as the overall way that you style your hair, makeup and wardrobe for the shoot.

If you’re not clear on what your personal brand is, it really is quite simple. Your brand, or any brand for that matter, is simply what everyone thinks of when they think of you. For example, are you an adventurous, energetic health nut whose idea of a good time is getting in a good workout, or spending an afternoon skydiving or river rafting? Are you a glamorous, girly-girl who adores a pretty mani-pedi and is up-to-date on all of the latest fashions and loves everything sparkly and pink? Or, maybe you love nothing more than diving into a challenging research project, devouring a good book or engaging in a stimulating debate over your favorite subject?

All of the qualities and characteristics that make us an individual are part of our unique personal brand. Add to that the way that we look, the way we think, speak and interact with others and the world around us, and you have a pretty solid idea of what branding is all about.

You may not realize it, but all of those pieces that make up your brand should be considered when you are planning out what you want the final product of your headshot to be. If you are not a girly-girl who loves over-the-top glamour, then it doesn’t make sense for you to create a hyper-stylealized photoshoot wearing a bright fuchsia crystal-covered gown and pink rhinestone earrings. That is going to give the wrong impression to the judges about who you are and what you’re about because it doesn’t line up with your brand.

That may be an overly simplistic example, but the point is that you want to strategically align your pageant headshot image with what you want the judges and everyone else to think about you before they get the opportunity to meet you. Your headshot is your calling card, and it speaks for you, before you even open your mouth. That is why it is so important to know what your personal brand is and weave that brand and message through all of your public relations material like your social media and your pageant headshot.

The higher up that you advance in a pageant system, the more contestants there are in most cases. Depending on whether you live in a small town or highly populated area, when you are at the local level, there may not be a whole lot of other girls participating. When you advance to the state competition, all of a sudden the numbers increase and the contestants get more savvy and experienced. Then, when you reach the national and especially, the international level, everyone is beautiful, talented and highly skilled because they are the cream of the crop.

Regardless of the level of your competition, your brand and the brand of the system that you are in are always going to be the same. Those factors are the most important things to consider when you are trying to find a photographer and planning how to dress and style your photoshoot.

Knowing about branding is such a powerful tool because it becomes the foundation for everything that you do and it will help guide your decisions as you go through the photoshoot process and selecting all of the resulting images.

Mrs. America 2018, Mekayla Eppers. Photo: Meagan Gilbert Photography

Plan ahead when scheduling your headshot photoshoot

If you are competing in a pageant and you’re having your headshot done for the program book or the pageant’s social media, you must absolutely know the deadline that your pageant director needs to have your pageant headshot and your ad pages submitted to her or him. Your director gives all of the contestants deadlines because they have deadlines themselves that they must pay attention to. In order to have a pageant program printed in time for the pageant, all of the content must be given to the printers by a certain time or else it won’t be included.

This means that you have got to have your headshot scheduled far enough in advance so that your photographer has enough time for to do all of the editing and printing or anything else that is required. You also must know if your director has any photo requirements for your images. For instance, does your headshot need to be done in an 8 x 10 format? Does your director state that your headshot must have a required DPI?

Please respect your director and the deadlines that they give you. Your director is trying to produce a quality experience for you and the other contestants and they are dealing with a lot of circumstances, individuals and details that you are probably not aware of. Part of being a contestant, titleholder and ultimately a pageant queen with integrity, is respecting the people you work with and are helping you to achieve your dream. So try to be a person of excellence who follows the rules, gets her paperwork turned in on time and contributes to the success of the pageant, as opposed to a person who creates problems because of their own self-centeredness and short-sightedness.

Be prepared and get your beauty sleep

There is no better time to start acting like the queen who is going to win the pageant than right now!

Schedule your haircut, hair color, styling or any touch ups so that they occur just before the photo session. Have your manicure done, get your teeth cleaned or whitened and plan ahead for any other necessary beauty appointments. If you’re going to have a facial done, or any cosmetic procedures, get them taken care of a few weeks or even a month prior to the shoot. Often times when we get facials, dermabrasion and procedures like that performed, they can result in redness, irritation or unwanted blemishes or flare-ups. You do not want to show up to your photoshoot with skin that is in a state of healing.

Also, make sure to organize and bring all of the right clothing, jewelry and accessories, including the correct undergarments for your outfits, like a strapless bra if you need one.

Get lots of sleep in the days prior to your shoot and make sure that you have been drinking sufficient water so that you are properly hydrated.

Respect and honor the photographer’s time and be on time, if not early, for your photoshoot. Show up for your photoshoot with a positive attitude and a happy, upbeat outlook for the day. You and your photographer are going to be working together in this endeavor and you need to come in with an expectation of a productive partnership and a winning result.

Be assertive about what you want and don’t be afraid to speak up if you have ideas and suggestions for things to do during your shoot, but also allow the photographer to do what they do well, and listen to their suggestions. After all, you hired this particular photographer because you thought they were the best person for the job, so trust them as a professional.

Everything you feel will show up in your photos so you want to be relaxed, happy and confident. Make the most of this experience and have fun! If you’re in a positive state of mind and living in the moment, you will enjoy the entire process and you and the photographer will make magic!

Miss Delaware Collegiate America 2017 Taylor Childs. Photo Denise Jane Portrait Design, INC.

Plan out your entire look

If you are competing in a pageant system that is prestigious or highly competitive with a lot of other contestants, your headshot must be dynamic and stand out amongst the others. It is necessary that you comprehend that you are not competing against the other girls, but you are competing against who you are now and the very best you that you can be. 

Planning out the look that you want for the photo begins with being strategic with your brand, as we stated previously. Part of planning out your look is also getting to have some fun and experiment with your fashionable side. Just be sure when you begin thinking about how you want to style your hair and makeup, as well as what outfits you’re going to be wearing, that this is a look that is true to you and it’s also a look that you can reproduce at the pageant when it’s time to do your interview with the judges. There is nothing worse than walking into your interview and a judge acts surprised because they did not recognize you as the girl in the headshot that they were anticipating.

You want to really understand your brand and how to communicate who you are in your headshot as well as in person when you meet those judges. Plus, you want to emphasize your most attractive features and downplay any areas that aren’t your best. If you have beautiful eyes, then think of things that make you feel joy because that emotion will show through your eyes and it will make a huge difference in the photos. In addition, make sure your makeup artist plays up your eyes and uses eye makeup that really makes them pop!

One tip if you have really stand-out eyes is to match the color of your eyes with your dress or accessories, like your earrings. In fact, Pageant Planet carries an incredible array of the most stunning earrings you’ve ever seen. If you’ve got big baby blues, you need these!

Triple Threat Rhinestone Earrings. Photo: Pageant Planet

If you have a gorgeous smile, wear a flattering lip color and don’t try to do a serious, sultry or non-smiling photo. Tell your photographer that you want to show your dimples a lot and that you want a fun, happy vibe to your shoot.

If your hair is your crowning glory, then most definitely, find a way to feature it in your headshot because you’re sure to get noticed for it in real life. If you have an attention-getting hair color like red, platinum blonde or black, tell your photographer that you want to turn up that fan and show it off.

If you have lovely shoulders select one shoulder or off the shoulder styles. If you have a long neck or shapely arms, then by all means pick out halter style gowns or dresses that have unique cuts and bodices. Girls who have long necks or an exquisite jaw line or cheekbones can definitely pull off a pair of fabulous long chandelier earrings during their photoshoot. Here are some more beauties from our shop.

Rhinestone Chandelier Earrings. Photo: Pageant Planet

When shopping for outfits to wear for your shoot, choose colors that add a glow to your skin and make you look radiant. Search for dresses or tops that have interesting necklines or distinctive beading, embroidery or rhinestones. Don’t forget to carefully select the perfect accessories to go with your outfits. When you wear a gown that has stoning throughout the bodice, along the neckline or around the face somewhere, and you match that bling with some spectacular earrings, it is breathtaking!

Rockstar Rhinestone Earrings. Photo: Pageant Planet

All of those things make a difference and go a long way towards helping you to stand apart from the crowd. They also make you even more memorable to the judges because you look confident that you know yourself so well and you know what works best for you.

As far as some practical tips for when you actually start posing for your headshot, we give you a ton of great ideas in this article. You can find a more in depth description of poses in that section but here are some basics to remember.

Always begin with your body at an angle

A lot of inexperienced girls will begin their photo session with their body facing directly towards the camera and that is not always the best way to start. Your photographer will likely have a lot of posing ideas for you and will direct you throughout the shoot, but a good way to begin the process is to stand or sit with your body at a 45 degree angle to the camera.

This means that you initially face the camera, but then just turn either your upper body or your entire body slightly away to one side. For example, take your right shoulder and move it back so that you begin to pivot and your left shoulder is forced to be closer to the camera. If you are standing, as opposed to sitting down, then just stand in the typical “T” stance that we use when we’re standing on stage in a pageant. This will automatically turn your body into the correct 45 degree position.

This angle not only makes you look thinner, but it puts you the perfect position to create endless poses just by varying and moving your head, face, neck and shoulders.

Miss Alabama 2019 Callie Walker utilizing a 45 degree turn pose. Photo Miss America Organization 

Remember your breathing

Sometimes when we are taking a lot of photos all at once, we can get tension in our body, our face and smile and end up looking very tight. We don’t even realize we’re doing it, but the camera sees everything. To avoid that, especially if you are new to having your photo taken over and over, you have to learn to breathe properly.

A good technique that professional models use all of the time is to take a deep breath and then let it out before the photographer clicks the camera. It’s a very simple technique, but it makes such a huge difference in the photo. All you do is take a deep breath and let it out, allowing your chest and shoulders to relax and fall into place naturally. At the same time, you relax all of the muscles in your face.

You can also do this and close your eyes at the same time. Then after you let your breath out, you open your eyes and smile. Now, you don’t want to do this constantly during the photoshoot or you’re going to annoy your photographer, get light headed and pass out. Just do it at the start of the shoot, and then again if you find yourself tensing up. Your photographer will likely see the tension before you do and will remind you to take a breath.

When you have a lot of photos taken back to back, it is very normal for your facial muscles to freeze up or start to get tense. This tension will also show up in your eyes. You’ve probably seen this frozen deer-in-the-headlights expression on girls from time to time, right? It’s extremely common, so it’s no big deal. Just remember to try to stretch and relax before you begin your shoot. Then, take some breaths throughout to make sure that you stay relaxed.

Glitz pageants

Not unlike fashion photography, taking the perfect picture doesn’t just happen during the shoot. A lot of preparation goes into having the perfect shoot on the photographer’s end. From setting up the lighting to packing extra backdrops, there are many things they do before you arrive. Just like the photographer, there are things the subject can do in preparation for your shoot.

My first tip is to mark on your calendar the date and time of your shoot so don’t run late or miss your appointment completely. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get an amazing set of pictures!

I also suggest paying for edits, prints and your sitting fee ahead of time so you can relax when you arrive. No one wants to have to talk about money or payments the day of the shoot. Use your time with your photographer to create an amazing head shot and not to scramble to find out how they want to be paid. Most photographers ask for a deposit and will accept payments overtime. Once you’ve paid your deposit, get a listing of their edit and printing prices and start paying on those prior to your shoot. Keep track of all of your payments. Don’t forget to ask for their turn around and shipping time so you can plan your next pageant appropriately.

Photo: Allie Hoffman 

Prepare for the photoshoot in advance

Some photographers may send you a list of how to prepare for the shoot including hair and face techniques. Follow these guidelines and you are sure to have a great outcome. If you tend to have problematic or textured hair, it may be beneficial to let your stylist for the shoot know, in case they have different guidelines. If you utilize a hair piece for your picture, also let your photographer know. Depending on when you have your pictures scheduled you may need to ship your hair piece ahead of time, or drop it off the night before. Stylists for glitz shoots will often style your hair piece ahead of time so they are not wasting time during your shoot.

Your guidelines for preparation should also include ways to make your skin perfect for your shoot. Clean skin and hair can go a long way when it comes to having shiny, glowing skin. I suggest cleansing your skin and moisturizing prior to your shoot. Start a regiment if you don’t have one already, at least a week prior. Skin should be completely makeup free for your shoot. Make sure to shower and use your skin cleaning regiment the morning of your photoshoot. You can always wear a shower cap during your shower if you are not supposed to wash your hair as some stylists will ask for old, dirty hair for better styling. I also carry Carmex Chapstick in my bag for photoshoots so that I have smooth lips to work with.

No one wants to wake up the morning of the shoot and feel awful! Vitamins like biotin and keratin can help your skin and nails in strength and density. Vitamin C when taken a few days prior to your shoot can help boost your immune system and keep your from getting sick. If you are prone to red eyes when waking up early or with use of eye makeup, grab a bottle of Visine or eye drops to take with you.

Be ready for the photoshoot

Leave early and show up early. No one likes to wait, but when it comes to top dollar headshots make sure you are on time so the time allotted for your shoot is used for the shoot and not for waiting. If you have little ones with you, bring some snacks, games and water in case you are waiting for a bit of time.

Bring complete outfits and something comfortable for bottoms and slippers to wear. I tend to bring a medium sized suitcase with all my outfits. I like to label my jewelry or at least separate it all out into outfit concepts. If using deodorant, pack a clear kind so it doesn’t rub off on your attire.

“A great headshot is made by the expressions," Toni Overby an expert photographer suggests. "You want eye contact, and a connection with the camera. Smiles and serious looks can do equally well but in glitz a closed mouth typically does better.”

Your facial expressions are something you can also try at home. A fun way to practice facial expressions and to decide what looks best on you may sound silly. Prior to the shoot, run to your bathroom or closet mirror and turn on your favorite up-beat song. While lip-syncing you can smile and make facial expressions. Then, you can re-create those in front of the camera! Trying different kinds of expressions will give you a better range of pictures to choose from.

Do I need a pageant headshots photographer?

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone 

Having a photoshoot with a cool, artsy photographer, wearing beautiful clothes and having a hair and makeup team hover over you can really make you feel like Cinderella. But, you don’t want the end result to be a total makeover where your final images end up looking like someone else entirely.

Every now and then, a girl gets carried away with a newbie photographer who wants to be their fairy godmother, and they end up with a headshot that is nothing like the girl in the photo. We’ve seen it happen and it is a real shock and a shame.

Yes, the photos look amazing and fabulous, but the person in the image just does not exist. When a photographer does this, it just ends up hurting the contestant in the long run. If you are working with an extremely experienced pageant photographer that should not happen because they understand the importance of a good headshot looking like the contestant in real life. They would not dream of trying to take a photo of you that did not really look the way you look.

A professional, seasoned pageant photographer knows how powerful your headshot is to you doing well in the interview, as well as you being able to represent the brand of the pageant itself.

“Whether it’s for business, social media, pageants, or your website, a good head shot or portrait is so important because it is a marketing and PR tool that represents you, your company and your brand," Veronica L. Yankowski of VeroLuce Photography said. "Making sure the headshot conveys all of that in one image is so important. That is why hiring an expert that knows how to make you look your best is essential.”

Alyssa Dass National American Miss Jr. Teen 2018-2019. Photo: Kathy Whittaker Photography

A professional pageant photographer will strive to bring out your personality and the traits that are unique to you during the photoshoot. They will do everything they can to make you happy and comfortable so that you are completely at ease because they know that those emotions will translate directly to the end result.

A photographer who is not experienced with taking pageant headshots does not understand how crucial your headshot is to doing well in your pageant. They may be a terrific wedding photographer or experienced with taking senior photos for kids graduating from high school, but those types of photos are at the other end of the spectrum from pageant headshots.

Even a photographer whose main clientele are actors and actresses may not know the subtle differences between an actor’s headshot and a pageant contestant’s headshot. It’s not to say that these types of photographers are not talented or gifted in their chosen field, it’s just that you are paying a sizable amount of money to get a very specific type of photo that works in the pageant industry.

Why would you risk everything just to save a few bucks? Please trust us on this. These photos are a major investment in your pageant success and this facet of the competition is worth spending a little extra on. It’s not just important that your photographer be an experienced pageant photographer, it’s also a must that they are familiar with the system that you will be competing in. Not all systems are the same and neither are all photographers.

What to consider when selecting a pageant headshots photographer

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone 

So now that you know the value of working with a legitimate pageant photographer, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to go about finding a good photographer that will be perfect for you.

Have a pageant budget

First things first! Pageant contestants must always have a reasonable pageant budget to operate with.  

Shortly after you entered your pageant, you should have created a thorough pageant budget that took into account every single item that you would need to participate in your pageant. The reason is that pageantry can be an expensive sport and you will constantly have to make decisions about things that you need to purchase.

Your pageant budget should allow for some adjustments. It’s true that headshots are a major investment and you need to set aside a reasonable amount of funds to cover that portion of competition. But, a good budget should also be flexible enough that you can take some money from one category and put that money into another.

For instance, if you find a photographer you want to work with who costs more than you initially estimated, having a flexible budget allows you to change it without breaking the bank. Maybe you estimated your headshots would be fairly inexpensive because you were going to work with a local photographer, but then you got the opportunity to shoot with a better and more expensive photographer from out of town.

Pageant headshots can vary greatly in price and you also have to consider the cost of any outfits, accessories and a hair and makeup artist for the shoot. In addition, you will need to consider the price of editing, touch ups and printing of the final images. Just make sure that you make an attempt to budget adequately for your headshots and make wise decisions about selecting your photographer; otherwise you may end up going broke before you even get to your pageant weekend.

Miss Indiana Teen USA 2018 Ella Harrison. Photo Meagan Gilbert

Get recommendations and referrals from other pageant contestants and titleholders

We have already established that pageant photography is a very particular niche, and not just any photographer is capable of capturing exactly what you need. Therefore, you know that you are trying to find a photographer who specializes in pageant headshots, not just anybody that you find on Craigslist.

One of the best ways to find the exceptional pageant photographers is to get recommendations and referrals from other pageant contestants and titleholders, particularly those that have competed in your system. It’s totally fine to ask girls about their photographers if they are not in your pageant system, but then it’s up to you to interview their photographer to find out if they understand the requirements of your pageant.

Ask questions when interviewing potential photographers

Before you make any commitments to any photographer or sign any contracts, you absolutely must thoroughly interview that photographer and ask some necessary questions. Please take the time to read through their website to make sure that they haven’t already anticipated your questions and provided the answers there. It’s really annoying to have someone run through a bunch of frequently asked questions about your business that you have already taken the time to answer ahead of time.

Some commonly asked questions about headshots include things like how many outfits you should bring, whether hair and makeup services are provided and how much they cost.

Veronica L. Yankowski of VeroLuce Photography is a perfect example of a professional pageant photographer who works collaboratively with her clients to determine the best type of setting and outfit choice for their session. She always recommends that women have their hair and makeup done professionally, which is why it is already included in the package price.

“That way you can be sure you look and feel your best,” Yankowski said.

Other questions that you might ask about the final images are how many proofs you will receive, and if there are additional costs associated with editing and retouching, among other things.

Don’t be shy or feel intimidated to ask questions until you are satisfied and feel like you know everything you need to know to make an educated decision. A professional photographer who has any integrity and pride in their business should be gracious and flattered that you are considering them so carefully. They are providing you with a costly service and they also know that word of mouth is one of the biggest ways that they acquire new clients. In the pageant industry, a poor reputation can ruin any pageant professional’s career very quickly. While a happy and satisfied customer can mean endless referrals and unlimited success.

Photo: Goodwin Photography

Take note of the photographer who took the official headshots for the queen in your pageant

One of the best tips of all is to find out who the photographer is who ends up taking the winner’s headshot for the system you are competing in. Every pageant queen has her official photo done after she wins, therefore it follows, that the photographer who takes that photo is one of the most qualified to understand the system’s brand and requirements.

You surely cannot go wrong hiring the official pageant photographer, although they likely charge a higher fee than many others since they are aligned with the pageant. The plus side is that you will know for certain that you will be in good hands and that your headshot will be one of the best in the bunch.

And, who knows? If your headshot looks as good as the outgoing queen, that same photographer may be taking your official photo soon after you win the pageant!

One of the best resources for pageant photographers is Pageant Planet! 

One of the very best places to locate an accomplished pageant photographer in your area is to explore Pageant Planet’s photographer directory. There you can search using all kinds of features and you have the security of knowing that all of the photographers in the directory are seasoned professionals with years of experience.

You can then go directly to their websites and get the scoop on each one and actually see their work for yourself. You just cannot beat the directory for a diverse variety of pageant photographers all in one place.

Explore our photographer database to discover event and headshot photographers who can capture the professional image you are looking for. Use our filtering options to narrow your search and find the perfect photographer. If you’d like us to help you find a photographer for you, we’d be happy to do so. Just fill out the inquiry form and we will match you with qualified experts, who will contact you within 24 hours!

The added benefit of studying the winning list of pageant headshots is that you can see what a stellar headshot should look like. You’ll be able to read the descriptions of those contestants and titleholders see how their hair and makeup looks and observe how each photographer captured that girl in the photo. There is nothing quite like learning from a winning photo to get an idea of what you should be going for when you do your own photoshoot. We know that you’re going to love looking at these headshots and you’ll get so much inspiration!

How do I find a pageant headshots photographer?

Contribution by Devon Knightner

Your pageant headshots are the staple to getting the judges attention. You know you need a killer photographer to snap your beauty to perfection. Now you’re asking yourself, “How do I find a photographer to take my pageant headshots?” You don’t want just any self-proclaimed photographer taking your coveted pageant headshots. You want and absolutely need an experienced professional Pageant photographer with the knowledge and quality to give you winning photos for your upcoming pageant.

Photo: Grant Foto

There are two places you should start your search. Queens, this is without a doubt a no-brainer. First, Pageant Planet, duh! Explore our photographer database to discover event and headshot photographers who can capture the professional image you are looking for. Use our filtering options to narrow your search and find the perfect photographer.

Want a more personal touch? Looking for a photographer but not sure who to hire? Send us a shout! Click here and fill in the form and we will match you with qualified experts who will contact you within 24 hours!  

The next best way of finding a photographer whose caliber is almost guaranteed to deliver is your pageants sponsored photographer. Some pageants make it a requirement to use their pageant photographer at some levels, while others have the options available to choose your own as a pageant contestant. Remember your pageant headshots will be on the pageant's official site. Make sure to pick a photographer who can deliver what’s comparable to the currently sponsored pageant photographer or better.

Here are a few questions to consider once you’ve located your top three pageant photographer picks. Your photographer interview inquiry checklist should start with these questions:

  1. How does their studio look?
  2. What do their social media sites look like?
  3. How long have they been a photographer for pageants specifically?
  4. Have you read their reviews? Are the reviews legit, stellar or sporadic?
  5. What experience do they have? Who have they worked with?
  6. Do they have packages that include hair and makeup?
  7. Does the studio allow the client to bring his or her own hair and makeup team?
  8. Do they have a travel studio and what does it consist of?

Your next place to venture in seeking a pageant photographer is to your pageant coach. Of course, they’d have all the details and inside information. It may even get you a discount!  Bridal, gown and pageant shops could also be helpful. This is a great place to grab business cards or network with directors and other queens while shopping!

One of the best places to get the royal treatment is in Columbia, South Carolina at Dazzles. Every local and statewide photographer has graced this beautiful shop.  Dazzles owner Jill Rowland has been in involved in pageantry since the early 1990s as a contestant, emcee, judge and pageant coordinator. She has a dedicated team to help you find your pageant photographer no matter your budget and where you are in the statewide. If your local prom, bridal and pageant boutique can’t do this for you, don’t go!

Owner Jill Rowland. Photo: Matt Boyd Photography

How much should pageant headshot cost with editing?

Contribution by Devon Knightner

Pageantry is not cheap or for the faint at heart. It’s an expensive sport. You need to make sure that your budget is in place and you stick to your budget to avoid disappointment. Once you’ve found your photographer, make sure before you fall in love with their work and can picture yourself in their photos…make sure you can afford them. Do your research so you can evaluate what you can afford so you can have what you want for your current pageant needs.

Photo: High End Beauty Retouching

Once you’ve determined exactly what type of pageant you’re participating in, it’s time to delve into what type of editing is necessary for your pageant headshots. You’ve got your perfect photo, now what? It’s time to edit. Is editing your headshots necessary for your pageant? Think of it this way, editing or retouching is necessary for your image to become ideal for your pageant headshot judging. Edited photos are in high demand right now.  

“Each person is looking for top quality when he or she is seeking the company to collaborate with," according to High End Beauty Retouching.  "Photography retouching makes possible to create an outstanding image from a simple ordinary shot. It’s what professionals do: they use their skills and turn photo retouching into a powerful instrument. Edited wisely, any photo can become a little mystery and give its owner and his or her friends a miraculous feeling of the world’s wonders. “

Modeling, acting and dance headshots are somewhat cheaper than pageant headshots. Pageant headshots are usually only active per pageant or if they’re similar and look recent, you can re-use those pictures. Modeling or acting headshots have a life cycle of about six months. So while you’re editing yourself in fitness or new hairdos, you have to consider how your photos are edited as well.

Mrs. Tennessee International 2018 Shonjrell Ladner. Photo: Goodwin Photography

Most photo shoot price range from $250 to $1500 per session. The higher the prices would normally include hair and makeup. You don’t want your pictures to come back “as is” or unedited. You would have to pick your favorite images with your photographer. Once you’ve both agreed on the images, you would need to expect additional charges for editing. Expect a minimum of $50-$100 per image for retouching. You also want to consider the studio/sitting fee for their time while editing those images. If you want to photos without the watermark or their logo. some may not agree, while others may charge a hefty fee.

Make sure you are comfortable with the results and read your contract to ensure any corrections or additional fees. To assist you in reaching a photographer, try our database on Pageant Planet. Looking for a photographer but not sure who to hire? Fill in the form and we will match you with qualified experts who will contact you within 24 hours!

How should my pageant headshot be edited?

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone and Allie J Hoffman

Everyone has things about their face or physical features that they might not be crazy about or might prefer to change, but being perfect is not a requirement to winning the crown. Besides you likely are more hung up about whatever you think of as flaws, whereas the judges are not focused on those things. They are excited about what they read on your pageant bio and they can see that you are attractive, and that’s all they care about.

When it comes to getting your pageant headshot edited or retouched, you want to stay as close to looking like the real you as possible, but at the same time, when a photo comes out of the camera, there are many things that may need to be adjusted. That is why it is so important to use a professional pageant photographer when you get your headshot done and to have them do all of the editing and retouching for you. A seasoned photographer knows what they are doing and they will ensure that you look your absolute best while touching up any little imperfections that the camera managed to catch.

Every now and then you will run across a photographer who tells you that they will just give you the unedited film and charge you a lower fee. Photographers like this are not professionals and they are really hurting you by doing this. You may think that you can edit your photos on your own using an inexpensive editing software but, trust us. Do not even think about it!


Miss Brasil Plus Size 2017, Veronica Isis Dalbem. Photo: Diego Suffredini

Natural pageants and scholarship pageants

Veronica L.Yankowski of Vero Luce Photography, is an international award-winning photographer specializing in all kinds of photography, including pageant headshots. She says that sometimes she runs across clients who ask her why they should have her professionally process their images because other photographers offered to just gave them their photos unedited for a lower price.

“It is doing such a disservice to so many people who don’t know what that actually means," Yankowski said. "So I am going to explain it once and for all. When photographers edit or process their images, we use photography programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom to not only color correct, crop, or touch up some unsightly or distracting things from the image, but we use tools that help us achieve the color and look of an image that becomes our style, or the look of the image we are known for.”

“When researching photographers for any event or purpose, the photographer’s style has to be one you are attracted to,” she continues. “Some artists process their images light and airy, some with more dramatic lighting, some people over expose, some people underexpose, some use textures and presets to add cool skies, sun flare, or mimic the look of film. The list goes on and on. The point is, every photographer has their own style and when you hire them it’s because you love how their images look. What you might not know is that even though we have really expensive cameras, our images do NOT look like what is on our blogs, social media and websites straight out of the camera. They usually need a little tweaking; sometimes even a lot of tweaking.”

This is one of Yankowski’s images that demonstrates the difference between what she actually photographed and how she processed the image and delivered it to her client. You will probably agree that the processed version is much more desirable!

Male headshot example. Photo Vero Luce Photography

“I just want people to have a better understanding of what post processing means and why it is so essential when hiring a photographer that your images be professionally processed and not just a “shoot and burn” job.” Yankowski explains. “We spend hours perfecting our images so we can be proud of what we present to you and in turn, you are proud to display them in your home or office or in your marketing material.  I would rather have fewer perfect images instead of “all” of the images taken. In most cases, more isn’t better. Seeing the outtakes, blinks, awful camera angles, missed shots and “junk” are not adding value to your session. The artist taking time to offer you perfected images will be worth the money spent.”

Photo: Select Studios

Glitz pageants

People are often surprised when hearing that even natural photos are edited. In the case of glitz photos, there are many things that can be edited. But editing a glitz photo to where it is perfect, takes a truly talented artist. Glitz editing is not something easily done!

“Edits should be done by a professional and remember you get what you pay for," photographer and pageant stylist Toni Overby said. "Retouching is just as important as the photo. The less retouching the better!”

There are many glitz editors, just as many photographers and twice as many hair and makeup artists. Knowing who is a good quality editor can be so tough. When choosing an editor, first ask your photographer. Most glitz photographers use an exclusive editor. When this is an option, you don’t have to worry about who to use. After you pick your favorite picture from your proofs, the photographer will send your pictures to their editor. That is always the easiest and best option.

Another option for editors is to ask your coach or makeup artist. If they have been in industry long enough, they will be able to tell you who to reach out to. Once you’ve gotten a name of an editor, do your research. Look at some of their past examples of edits and compare them to recent winning headshots. If anything stands out to you then pass them by and try someone else.

Photos that are blurry, the face takes up too much of the photo or hair cropping looks messy are instant red flags. Price may also be a red flag. Although amateurs may just lack in experience and charge according to that, that may also mean their edits are not high quality. A lower price can, but not always, mean the quality of edit won’t be as great as a professional. Although price is not always the case, I’ve gotten glitz edits for $20 a piece and they were amazing, just keep that in mind when choosing your editor.

A glitz photo when editing professionally can upwards of $50 per photo. That may sound like a steep price to pay but keep in mind, these photos can be used multiple times. My daughter’s photos have been used for three years and still score perfectly. Editing can include little things like cropping or tilting the position of the subject, changing the background and adjusting lighting.

Editing can also include perfecting the hair and removing any fly-aways or spacing in the hair. If you forgot your earrings or eyelashes, don’t worry those can be digitally added in. Worried about your blemishes showing? Relax! Blemishes and facial scarring can be edited as well.

“Glitz photos typically replace the child’s own eyelashes with a digital lash," Overby said. "Makeup can be enhanced and most flaws can be corrected.”

After your photo is edited, it should still resemble your child! Their eye color and eye may be brightened and widen, lips will appear fuller and facial flaws will beremoved. Even looking like a perfect doll, it should still resemble your child. An edit that replaces a child’s nose, moves fingers or ears is a quick sign that it is a poor-quality edit.

Once your photo is edited and you have your 8x10 print, find a photo protector. Afterall, we want your picture to look brand new for as long as you use it. Protectors are not the same as a photo sleeve. Protectors are hard plastic and do not bend. Photo sleeves may be decent for family albums or scrapbooks, but when it comes to a photo that will be held by many people while judging you will want something sturdier.

How do I do my hair for pageant headshots?

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone and Allie J Hoffman

Check out five hairstyles every contestant must learn for pageants:

Natural and scholarship pageants

In addition to using a professional pageant photographer, you really need to use a professional hair stylist who knows how to do hair for a pageant headshot. Usually, a professional photographer will either have a hair stylist that they use on their shoots, or they will be able to recommend several good ones for you to hire yourself.

However, every now and then you may run into a situation where you are planning a photoshoot and a hair stylist is not available, or you are in an emergency situation and the professional hair stylist you hired is unable to do the job. Sometimes things just happen, like the stylist became ill, had a crisis or for whatever reason, just could not get to your photoshoot. What do you do in those circumstances?

Well, if you have already booked the photographer and you absolutely must get this headshot done at this time, then you do your own hair!  It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens. More to the point, if you are competing in pageants regularly, or you are serious about becoming a titleholder or you actually are a current titleholder, then you definitely should know how to do your makeup and hair as well as a professional.

Miss Texas Teen USA 2019 Kennedy Edwards. Photo Miss Texas USA

One of the very first things that you should do is read “The ULTIMATE Guide to Pageant Hair” on our website. That guide is jam packed with tips and tricks for every single aspect of pageant hair that you could ever want. The great thing is that you can look at the table of contents and then click right on the section that you want to read and you’ll go straight to it.

When thinking about how to do your hair for a headshot, the main thing that you need to remember is that you want your hair to look similar to how you are going to wear it when you have your pageant interview. Your hair does not have to be exactly the same style and it can certainly be very glamorous, but you don’t want to wear your hair in such a severely different way that you are unrecognizable to the judges. With hair, you have a great deal more flexibility than you have with makeup.

You can wear your hair in big, beautiful curls or wear it sleek and straight. You always want to keep in mind how you plan to wear your hair for your pageant too, so that there can be consistency in your look.

Miss Susquehanna Valley 2017, Caroline Jones. Photo Eireann Photography

Helpful tools and products for doing your hair

Before you can create fabulous looking hair for your headshot, you will need to invest in quite a few tools and products. Using the best quality products will give you the most professional-looking results and you will be able to consistently create gorgeous hair from here on out.

One important thing to keep in mind as you are doing your hair is that you want your hair to look great from all angles. When someone else is doing your hair, they can see what you don’t see. When you are in the middle of your photoshoot, you will not have that hair dresser watching you and ready to jump in and fix any curls that are misbehaving.

You will have to make sure that your hair looks amazing from not only the front, but also the back and sides. This way you can concentrate on the photoshoot and not be worrying about how your hair is looking.

A selection of good curling irons or wands

You will need to invest in a variety of quality curling irons or curling wands with different barrel sizes. If you can get some that have adjustable heat settings, it’s even better. A good rule of thumb is that the longer your hair, the larger the barrel you will require to create the type of curls that you need.

There are tons of great curling irons and curling wands on the market and you do not have to invest in a professional one to get professional results. You just need to do your research and get some irons that have very high ratings and are backed by a reputable company. Do not settle on a cheap iron just to save money.

If you are going to want to straighten your hair in any way for your photoshoot, you will also need to purchase a straightening iron also. You can get a quality ceramic iron that heats well for less than $50.00. Of course, there are straighteners like the Chi line, that retail for over a hundred dollars but you can find a perfectly good one for much less money if you cannot afford the higher priced options.

One line of irons that are very dependable is the BaByliss line. The Pro Porcelain ceramic 1.25” is a good size for most curls. If you have long hair and want to create glamous waves or big, bouncy curls you will need to get one with a 2” barrel or larger.

                                                                                                                                                  BaByliss PRO Porcelain Ceramic 1.25'' Spring Curling Iron. Photo Ulta Beauty

A heat protectant spray

Always use a heat protectant spray when you curl your hair. Working with heat protection is vital to the health of your hair. Heat doesn’t just dry hair out, it can destroy the integrity of the inner structure of the hair, and even decrease the longevity of that beautiful color that you invested in at the salon.

A flexible hold hair spray

A flexible hold hair spray to work with while you are creating curls in a must. It needs to be a hairspray that does not have a super strong hold, so that it will not get stiff or sticky as you are doing your hair. One that we highly recommend is Paul Mitchell Extra Body Finishing Spray. Even though it is technically a finishing spray, it is extremely pliable and flexible and it does not build up.

Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Finishing Spray. Photo Amazon

A strong hold finishing hair spray

If you have ever had your hair professionally styled by a pageant hairstylist, then this particular hair spray will probably look very familiar to you. It’s in the bag of every prominent pageant beauty professional the world over.

Elnett Satin’s humidity resistant hairspray delivers an ultra fine mist that disappears at the stroke of a brush so you can style and re-style away. With unique micro-diffusion technology, Elnett creates a mist of light micro-droplets dispersing the spray evenly for strand-by-strand hold

Elnett has been a celebrity hairstylist favorite for decades - Today, it is known as a stylist’s best friend and a hairstyle must-have. This Extra Strong Hold hairspray delivers enough hold to lock in your style while leaving hair touchable and brushable from roots to ends


L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray. Photo Amazon

Combs, brushes and clips

The two must-have combs are some kind of a fine tooth comb for teasing and combing small sections of hair and a wide tooth comb. If you can find what is called a “rat tail comb” that would be ideal. The rat tail on the comb allows you to part and section hair easily. It is best to use carbon or hard rubber combs when you are curling your hair or using any tools that heat up to very high temperatures. The materials that these combs are made from will prevent them from melting or burning and they will perform better for you.

The types of brushes you need to use depend on what kind of hair that you have an also what kind of hairstyles you are trying to acheive. Three solid brushes for most hairstylists are a flat brush for brushing and styling straight hair, a round brush for blow drying and a styling brush that you can use on damp hair while drying also.

Finally, you will benefit from having some clips that you can section and put up your hair with and also some “duckbill clips” that allow you to pin up curls that you have created so that they can cool.

How to blow dry your hair the correct way

These two tutorials were created by an amateur hair stylist, but she is so gifted at teaching and delivers such great information about blow drying basics that only professionals know. We just had to share these with you!

Blow Dry Mistakes You May Be Making and HOW to Fix Them!

How to flat iron your hair with VOLUME! No flat hair here folks.

The basics of how to curl your hair with a curling iron

Not everyone knows how to curl their hair the correct way using a curling iron or wand. In fact, so many of make mistakes and don’t even realize it. If you have never had a professional hair stylist teach you how to use an iron and create curls the proper way, you may, in fact, be doing it wrong.

The following video by “The Salon Guy” is an exceptional tutorial on how to curl your hair correctly using a curling iron. It is filled with marvelous tips and tricks and you may find yourself in a state of shock over the fact that you have been doing something the wrong way all of these years.

How to Use a Curling Iron – TheSalonGuy

Creating different types of curls with a curling wand or iron

This is an outstanding tutorial for understanding how to achieve different curl styles by using professional techniques. Sam Villa is an amazing teacher who is extremely detailed in his teaching style and he will having you doing your hair like a pro in no time.

Watch the video through the first time without trying to copy what he is doing with his curling iron. Pause the video, take notes and really listen closely to all of the little tips that he is giving you.

Here is a list of the six different curls and wave techniques that he teaches you during this tutorial:

  1. Flat Wrap - The flat wrap technique creates a wide, yet tight wave. You'll use a curling iron for this technique.
  2. Lazy Curl - This technique will produce a soft, yet lazy curl. You'll use a curling iron for this technique.
  3. Spiral Curl - A spring-type curl with added texture. You'll use a curling iron for this technique.
  4. Red Carpet Waves - A combination of the flat wrap and spiral wrap. This is how you create gorgeous Hollywood waves! You'll use a curling iron for this technique.
  5. Push Waves with a Flat Iron (also called an S Wave) - This is a very organic and natural wave and requires the use of a flat iron.
  6. Ribbon Curl with a Flat Iron - Use this method to create a slightly tighter curl or a loose curl (depending on your compression & speed).

6 Different Ways To Curl Your Hair | Sam Villa

Creating volume in your hair

Hair for a pageant headshot has got to have volume, but usually we have hair stylists to help us. Creating volume in your hair can be extremely challenging when you try to do it by yourself. In addition to the challenge of obtaining volume, you have the added problem of uncontrollable frizz.

This tutorial shows us some great techniques for creating volume and not looking like troll doll at the end.

The Secret to EXTREME Volume Blowouts - with NO Frizz   

How to get loose curls

Loose curls are a very popular way to wear hair for a pageant headshot. In this tutorial by Shonagh Scott, she demonstrates how to do it.

Victoria's Secret Inspired Bouncy Hair Tutorial | Shonagh Scott  

Glitz pageants

We all love the look of glitz pageant hair. Let me tell you, it’s not an easy style to achieve. Glitz hair takes a lot of prep to make it look amazing. From hair rolling, to custom hair piece dying and styling, you are looking at a big chunk of time and money to get them to look stage ready. When it comes to glitz headshots, there is no room for error! Headshots are sometimes required to compete. When they are not required, they can still be used for optional categories with the prizes that often award cash! To get the perfect coif for your upcoming picture, read on!

Although many of us can style our hair with ease, I want to be firm when I say that glitz hair is totally different than any other style. I have seen senior hair stylist take grief when trying out glitz hair. It takes a different type of skill set and creativity to accomplish picture-worthy hair. I cannot stress enough that you should always hire a professional glitz hair and makeup vendor when possible for your upcoming shoot. It’s true that editors can increase hair and even change the style in the picture, but a truly good glitz photo shouldn’t need hair changed. A perfectly styled hair piece may need a few fly aways cropped out, but the overall hair style shouldn’t need to be changed at all.

“You should have a professional do you hair and makeup for your photos. Good hair and makeup will reduce the amount of retouching you will need,” Toni Overby, a pageant vendor, advised. An overly retouched photo will never look as good as a photo that just need a little editing. Even the best of editors can find challenges in editing hair. The closer to perfect the hair is during the shoot, the less it will need to be edited.

One exception to this advice is photos with babies who will not keep their hair piece on long enough. In this situation your editor may add in hair to look like a bun or updo. If your little one is among the many that will not keep a bow in, let alone a hair piece, don’t worry! Your hair and makeup artist can straighten up her hair as best as possible for a smooth blank canvas for your editor.  Babies don’t always get hair added in either. Some of my favorite photos are those of babies with just their natural hair!

Luckily, when booking with a professional photographer in the glitz industry, they will most likely have a hair and makeup person working with them! When a hair and makeup artist is not provided for you, asking the photographer who they recommend is key. When reaching out to stylists, make sure to ask them specifically if they have worked with glitz hair styles. It is always ok to ask for sample pictures of their past work as well. When they send sample pictures, ask for the non-edited version.

Ideas for glitz hair

Now that you have set up your hair stylist for the shoot, you want to arrive with a clear idea of the type of hairstyle you want. Once you’ve selected your hair style, double check that you have the correct hair piece if you are using one.

Short and curly

Sweet national competitor, Ella, has her short and curly hair styled by Carmen Crocco in this photo below. To achieve this look, you will need a short or medium Remy hair fall, hot rollers and a lot of hair spray. Your hair vendor will do the rest! This look is best on ages under 7. If you are considering this style for your photos, bring your hair accessory along to the shoot. Hair accessories not only give drama to the photo and hair, but can cover any areas where the hair may not have grown in yet. To find out more information about glitz hair pieces and where to purchase them, read The Ultimate Guide to Pageant Hair!

Model: Ella. Photo: Carmen Crocco

Traditional “Barbie”

For the timeless classic traditional look like Emerson pictured below, you will need a short Remy fall. This look is probably the most versatile and looks the best on all face shapes and ages. The older the child, the longer the fall you will need. If you child is over the age of five, you will want to get a medium to long fall. While this photo does not have a big flip like other Barbie styles, you can certainly request a bigger flip on the bottom of the hair for a slightly different variation. This look will also need your hair accessory, hair piece and hot rollers.

Emerson with hair and makeup done by Sharline Marie Spears. Photo: Mary Burks


Having an updo will give you the most variety and room for creativity. While you may think that there is only one way to put hair up, a professional in this area will tell you otherwise. Baylen, pictured below, is modeling just one of the many ways you can have an updo for your photo. To achieve this look you will need a wiglet hair piece. Depending upon age and how much hair you want to add in, you can choose a baby wiglet (under age 2) to a maxi wire-based fall (up to age 13).

Baylen. Photo: Michael Booth and Phonco

Here is Baylen again, but with her hair waved or crimped. I love seeing how two different looks on the same child can create such a dramatic difference. For this picture they more than likely did not use hot rollers, but a wave or crimping tool instead. I personally feel like crimping hair blends it into the natural hair the best. This style requires a medium or long fall and looks great on any age. If you are thinking of this style, mention this idea to the stylist ahead of time as it take a create hot tool to create.

Baylen. Photo: Michael Booth and Phonco

How do I do pageant headshots makeup?

Contribution by Julia McVaugh Stone and Allie J Hoffman

If you are getting a headshot done for your next pageant, it is absolutely crucial that you use a professional pageant photographer. We go into great detail about this point throughout this pageant headshots guide.

In addition to using a professional pageant photographer, you really need to use a professional makeup artist who knows how a pageant headshot should look. Usually, a professional photographer will either have a makeup artist that they use on their shoots, or they will be able to recommend several good ones for you to hire.

However, every now and then you may run into a situation where you are planning a photoshoot and a makeup artist is not available, or you are in an emergency situation and the makeup person you hired is unable to do the job. Sometimes things just happen, like the makeup person became ill, had a crisis or for whatever reason, just could not get to your photo shoot. What do you do in those circumstances?

Well, if you have already booked the photographer, and you absolutely must get this headshot done at this time, then you do your own makeup! It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens. More to the point, if you are competing in pageants regularly, or you are serious about becoming a titleholder or you actually are a current titleholder, then you definitely should know how to do your makeup and hair as well as a professional.

Miss Pennsylvania Contestant Alysa Bainbridge. Photo Matt Boyd Photography

A lot of inexperienced contestants think that once you win a title (and most especially when you win a big crown) that you will have your own glam squad following you around and taking total care of you from head to toe for every single appearance and event that you attend.

Girl, I’m sorry to burst your beauty bubble, but it’s just not the case. Yes, if you are a state, national or an international titleholder, you will have stylists and professional hair, makeup and nail people helping you for many of your most important events.The reality is that for the majority of your appearances, you will be solely responsible for doing everything yourself. Gasp! Say it isn’t so Pageant Planet!

So, what’s a queen to do? She holds her chin up, steadies her crown and she handles her business, that’s what! We are here to help and we’re going to give you everything you need to be fierce and flawless for your next pageant headshot.

One of the very first things that you should do is read “A Queen's Guide to Pageant Makeup” on our website. That guide is jam-packed with tips and tricks for every single aspect of makeup that you could ever want. The great thing is that you can look at the table of contents and then click right on the section that you want to read and you’ll go straight to it.

For our current purposes, we’re going to discuss pageant headshot makeup and what you need to know to create the perfect look.

Natural and scholarship pageants

When thinking about how to do your makeup for a headshot, the main thing that you need to remember is that you MUST look like how you look like in real life, just a bit of a better version.

Your headshot should not be a makeover and it should not be like a “glamour shot” type of photo that you can get at the mall. You need to look your age, you need to look pretty and your photo should capture your personality. You don’t have to have a mega watt smile in your headshot. It’s totally fine to be serious. Your headshot is supposed to represent who you are at your essence and it should be unique to you.


First of all you will need to begin with a clean face, of course. Moisturize your skin, neck and under your eyes and finish with a good primer. Then, you want to select your foundation. You want your skin to look dewy with a glow, but not too shiny in a headshot, so try to use a foundation that has a more matte coverage.

One of the best all around foundations for pageants are airbrush formulas and countless professional makeup artists use them. One of our favorites, recommended by one of the top makeup artists in the nation, Sherri Jessee, is Temptu AirPods Perfect Canvas airbrush foundation.

“I use and absolutely love Temptu AirPods Perfect Canvas airbrush foundation,” she told us. “It sprays on as light-as-air, natural-looking coverage and with a truly skin-like finish that lasts all day.

This semi-matte, fast-drying formula is transfer and water-resistant formula and delivers the most natural skin-like finish with buildable coverage – sheer, medium or full. If you would like to try out Temptu AirPods Perfect Canvas airbrush foundation for yourself, you can purchase the entire line from Temptu’s website directly, or you can buy an Airbrush Starter Kit on Amazon.com.

Temptu Air Perfect Canvas Airbrush Starter Kit. Photo: Amazon

If you’re not entirely comfortable using an airbrush foundation yet, that’s ok!  There are plenty more foundations that will fit the bill. One exceptional foundation that we know you will love is is a 2018 Allure Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award Winner! It’s called, “Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation” by Fenty Beauty.

This foundation is perfection for a photo shoot! It has a soft matte finish that’s just right—not too matte and not too shiny. It’s a longwear foundation with buildable, medium to full coverage that comes in an incredible 40 shades! Always shake Fenty Beauty foundation before use to activate. Pro Filt’r’s rich pigments need a moment to dry down to their truest color, so when you're testing shades, remember to let the formula dry completely to find your perfect match. If you are trying to decide between two shades, try the lighter shade.

Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation by Fenty Beauty. Photo Fenty Beauty


MAC Studio Finish Concealer is one of the most loved concealers by makeup artists the world over, and there is a reason! Its formula is smooth, creamy and easy to use. It stays where you put it but it’s never dry or cakey. It also comes in a variety of blend able shades so that you can use one color or create a custom shade by combining different colors together.

You simply cannot go wrong with this product and you can use it under the eye area to highlight and brighten or to cover blemishes, redness or discoloration anywhere on the face. Use it with a stiff concealer brush for best results, or warm it up by putting it on your hand and then applying it with your pinky.

Mac Studio Finish Concealer. Photo Amazon

Contouring and highlighting

When you’re doing contouring and highlighting for a photo, you want to create a look that still looks very much like what you look like in real life, but you just want to look slightly better. What we mean by this is that if you want to slim your nose, create cheekbones or make your lips look fuller, then by all means, do that. But, you want to stay away from anything too severe. Remember, you need to look like the girl in the photo, or else when you walk into the room for your pageant interview, the judges will not recognize you.

Keep your contouring simple and straightforward and use a light hand while highlighting. In a photograph, too much highlighter will make you look like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. Just use it on your forehead, upper cheekbones and maybe some on your nose and the cupid’s bow above your lip. A good highlighting tip is to draw a number, “3” from your forehead, down to your cheekbones and then down to your jaw line.

For an in depth discussion of highlighting and contouring please refer to A Queen's Guide to Pageant Makeup.

There are so many beautiful highlighters on the market that would give you the perfect glow for your headshot but one that we like is Fenty Beauty’s Diamond Bomb All-Over Diamond Veil, in the shade, “How Many Carats.” The diva herself, Rihanna created this one-of-a-kind diamond-dusted highlighter. It can be applied to your face and all over your body like a 3D glittering veil, delivering pure, show-stopping sparkle!

Fenty Beauty Diamond Bomb All‑Over Diamond Veil. Photo Fenty Beauty

Finishing Powder

There are so many great powders that you can use to set your makeup, but when you are doing your face for a headshot, you want a powder that does not get dry and that you can use under your eyes, in your t-zone area and all over your face.

One of the top of the line powders for photos, film and television is “Air Brush Flawless Finish Micro-Powder” by Charlotte Tilbury. If you struggle with an oily T-zone, or simply want a flawless 'retouched' look, Charlotte Tilbury's skin-perfecting powder is a must-have. "Like the most finely-milled cashmere," this soft formula blurs imperfections and fine lines without ever creating a cakey texture.

Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Micro-Powder. Photo Net-A-Porter

Eye Makeup

For eye makeup, you want to create a look that is neutral, but very, very strong, without a lot of bright colors. You have to be able to balance out your eye makeup with your lip color. And, the way that you get this look right is to make your eyes the focus with dark, defining colors, and make your lip color more sedate.

A traditional smoky eye works perfectly for a headshot, but you don’t want to do anything too extreme. The idea is to just bring out your eyes and enhance them. On the other hand, you will have to put on more eyeshadow, liner and mascara, including false eyelashes than you would wear with a daytime makeup look.

You can wear some shimmer or satin shadows on the inside crease to highlight your eye color, but for the most part, you want to stick with mainly matte shadows and concentrate on defining the eye. Do not use a shimmery shadow on the brow bone under the eyebrow. Go with a matte vanilla or cream colored shadow.

This sensational smoky eye tutorial by youtuber Teni Panosian is just what you need to learn to create what she calls, “Something neutral, just kicked up eight notches!” The only thing that we want to mention about this look is that for a headshot, the final lipcolor really needs to be brighter. Teni is using a lovely nude shade in the video, but for a photo, you would want something with more color.

Brown Smoky Eye Makeup Tutorial | Teni Panosian

To pull off the perfect eye makeup for your headshot, you’ll need to find some eyeshadow palettes that will give you a variety of shadow colors and formulas, and if you can use a pro palette, that would be ideal. Here are two out of this world pro palettes that you will love!

The Jaclyn Hill Eyeshadow Palette By Morphe

This is not your average eye palette. That’d be boring. We (and most importantly, Jaclyn Hill) don’t do boring. This palette is a two-year love affair with 35 brand-new, OMG eyeshadows that Jaclyn whipped up, formulated, tested, re-tested and perfected. They were created to deliver not only the best color payoff, but also amazing application. Mattes, shimmers, satins, foils and glitter: all pressed to perfection... just the way Jaclyn wanted. Her dreamy colors are now your reality. So whether you’re pressed for time or have time to play, this palette is your new bestie.

The Jaclyn Hill Eyeshadow Palette By Morphe. Photo: Morphe


The most requested and relied upon shadow palette by pro makeup artists. This top selling palette contains 12 perfectly saturated matte shades of highly micronized pigments created for a smooth and even application.  Encased in the new 20th Anniversary SlimPro magnetic compact, Palette 01 is a "core" neutral palette for every makeup kit that includes beige, bone, peach, taupe, black, grey, sienna and brown - ideal for shading, highlighting and defining eyes, brows or facial contours.

Viseart Eyeshadow Slimpro Palette - 01 Neutral Mattes. Photo Viseart Cosmetics


Since your eye makeup is going to be defined and neutral, you can go with a brighter color on your lips, but just stick to a shade that matches your skin tone and that is not overly dark or dramatic.

Most of the time you want to stay away from really radical shades like red unless you have a darker complexion and a color like that does not overwhelm your face. It’s fine to wear red, especially a toned down, subtle brick red, but you don’t want your lips to be stealing all the attention in the photograph.

Instead, look for colors like rose, coral, deep pink, plum and wine in a creamy matte. Try to stay away from lipstick formulas that have a shimmer or any glitter in them because it just does not translate well to film.

“Lip Cheats by Charlotte Tilbury” is a fabulous new line of the most flattering colored lip pencils you’ve ever seen!  And, to make them even better, they each have a matching lipstick, that when paired together, create the perfect red carpet pout. Each of these lovely colors was made with pageant girls in mind and any one of them would be the ideal shade for a headshot photo.

Lip Cheats by Charotte Tilbury in color Bond Girl. Photo Charlotte Tilbury

Define and outline your lips very well with a lip pencil or lipstick using a lip brush. Then go over the lip with a matching lipstick several times, blotting in between layers.

Try to keep the lips as moist and creamy as you can because your mouth and lips can get very dry during a photoshoot. It can be helpful to put a dab of Vaseline on your teeth and gums if you find that your lips get dry. Just be certain that you don’t put too much or else your teeth will be shiny.

You can certainly go over the lipstick with a matching gloss, but you have to make sure to blot the gloss so that it is not too shiny. The lights used during a photoshoot will always catch any light that is on your face, and an overly glossy lip is all that you’re going to notice in a photo.

Since we are discussing your mouth and what products you need to use in order to have a stand out smile, we need to remind you not to forget about your teeth. Having gleaming pearly whites will make all the difference and will enhance that gorgeous lipstick color that you’ve just slicked on. You needn’t spend hundreds of dollars for a costly Zoom! teeth whitening treatment at a dentist’s office to get a brighter smile. In fact, Pageant Planet just happens to carry one of the most outstanding whitening toothpastes that you can buy in our very own store.

AP 24® Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste. Photo: Pageant Planet

AP 24® Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste lightens teeth without peroxide while preventing cavities and plaque formation. No messy gels, no uncomfortable trays and no annoying strips. You will be so amazed at how quickly you see results!  In fact, this toothpaste is used and recommended by Pageant Planet Founder, Steven Roddy. We love it that much!

Steven and Renata Roddy love the results from using AP 24® Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste. Photo: Pageant Planet

Makeup tutorials

Sometimes reading about how to do makeup does not help you as much as seeing someone actually applying makeup to someone’s face. We totally get that. We’ve included a very cool YouTube tutorial to hopefully give you a better idea of not only what products to use for your headshot, but also how to use them to create the look you need. Here is a fantastic tutorial by makeup artist and youtube sensation, Patrick Starrr where he is doing Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach’s makeup when she judged the Miss Universe pageant.

Although this is not technically a tutorial on pageant headshot makeup, the look that Patrick creates for Pia is stunningly gorgeous and would be most appropriate for a pageant headshot look. Plus, you get to hear Pia dish on all kinds of fun pageant insider stories, tips and tricks! Take note of all of the products that he uses and the way that he uses them. For instance, he mixes not only her concealer colors, but also her foundation so that he can create a customized shade that is exactly right for her skin.

Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach Makeup Tutorial

Pageant Planet's mission is to provide you with every possible tool that will help you become the best contestant that you can be, and that includes your hair and makeup skills. If you feel like you need a bit more professional help to bring your skills up to par, then check out our free online makeup artist directory.

You will find artists in your area who can sit down with you and teach you what you want to know to do your hair and makeup to perfection, all by yourself. If hiring a pro is not in your budget, it's okay. Pageant Planet has countless articles online about makeup application and products, and we've got more on the way, just for you!

Glitz pageants

The answer to ‘How do I do pageant headshots makeup for glitz’ may surprise you. For stage, glitz contestants get loaded on with every layer of makeup possible from fake lashes to intense contouring. However, for pictures, it is almost the complete opposite. Makeup for glitz photos is very minimal. There are a few key places that makeup gets added for photos and the rest is digitally enhanced by a skilled editor! Always remember, makeup for a glitz shoot, even if it is minimal, should always be applied by a professional.

Toni Overby who has worked in the glitz pageant industry for years says, “I apply light makeup for the shoot and the retouched enhances the makeup."

You heard correctly, a thin layer is used for the photos and then everything else is retouched. As mentioned in our ‘What are pageant headshots’ section, a child’s lashes and bold eyeshadow may be added. Makeup that is applied for the photo shoot is very minimal. We really want to apply just enough to give a good baseline and pull out the natural features of the child. This is done so that it is easy for the editor to focus on some features more than others. So what makeup is applied?

First off a strong foundation must be used. This is because we always want a clean base for our photographer to focus on. If you can cover a blemish or under eye circles prior to editing then that is less to be editing. Remember, the less retouching the more natural a photo will look! The goal for your photo is to have a perfectly natural looking picture, which in my opinion is what we use makeup for on a daily basis!  A full coverage product like Kat Von D up all night is perfect for this. Notice below how fresh and clear Mary looks in the photo below. This can be achieved with the right full coverage foundation.

Photo: Michelle Luquet.

Second are the eyes. Filling in eyebrows by going in around the child’s natural eyebrow shape will again ensure that the digital retouch is minimal. Eyeshadow should be applied to the entire eye but not in a bold or layered look like if she were going on stage. A shimmery pink or gold can be used on the lid. A crease color of brown can help shape the eye and enhance the eye without digitally going in. Although a lot of the eye makeup will be covered, again it is always better to have the first layer put on for the shoot.

LESS IS MORE! Eye lashes are not used in glitz photos, it is easy in this case for the editor to add in lashes as it can be tricky to remove large false lashes without having to do re-do the entire face and eye area. Most eye cavities are digitally widened so your favorite mascara will do just fine for your photo shoot.

Photo: Robin McKnight

Our last model for this subsection is Kaileigh. Notice how soft her lips and cheeks look. They are a sweet pink color that is not too racey or flashy. For the shoot itself you may get a natural lip color with a very shiny top coat. She may also have her lips lined but chances are, gloss and a natural lip color or soft pink will do just fine. Many times I have seen lip color stay the same from shoot to final edit. For your cheeks, they may add a contour powder and blush or just blush itself. A warm pink or bright pink is normally the perfect choice. We still want these little ones to appear young and fresh, even amongst all the makeup and editing.

Always remember, less is more. That advice may sound backwards considering that glitz pageants are all about being extra. When it comes to photos, the less makeup added to the child the less editing that is needed! If you ever have questions about glitz pageantry, photos, attire or makeup make sure to check out our directory that is filled with coaches and vendors that are looking for you!

Do I need a hair and makeup artist for pageant headshots?

Contribution by Devon Knightner

We have total faith in all of our pageant beauties. Of course we know a lot of you are super skilled at slaying your own hair and makeup.  Doing your daily makeup gives you a secure feeling that you don’t even need a pro. Gentlemen, do you think you don’t need hair and makeup in your headshots because, well, you’re a guy and you’re freaking out you’ll look unnatural? That kind of thought process makes it easy for you to forego the hair and makeup artists. You could be making a huge, crown-costing mistake rather than making that investment.

A picture is worth a thousand words and the camera will pick up every detail. What story do you want your picture to tell? Since over-editing can be an issue, starting with professional hair and makeup can save you money while you spend it. Remember, your pageant headshot is something to be judged and scored with just as much weight as evening gown or talent. Almost every pageant requires a “pageant” headshot for use in a program book, the official site or even to include hopefuls on the pageants web-based social media platforms.

If you can’t afford a professional hair and makeup team or your photographer does not provide them in your package, you could do your own hair and makeup. At this point, it would be a great idea to invest in professional hair and makeup classes in your area. YouTube has great tutorials, but make sure to get in at least one face-to-face live interaction class.

How can you even begin to look for a hair and makeup artist? Well, Pageant Planet as always! Discover hair and makeup artists near you who have worked with local, state and national titleholders. Use our filtering options to narrow down the experts and then click their profile to see their work and reveal their contact information. Click here to get started.

If that’s also out of your budget, no worries! Facebook has a lot of beauty groups that go live to teach you. You can also interact with a lot of the beauty gurus. Just make sure they are certified and professional. YouTube also has so many tutorials and videos on applying, blending, curling and highlighting. Learn how to do a stellar smoky eye or contouring lesson. Just remember practice makes perfect and lashes are your friends.  

Pageant Planet is proud to represent the Rain Cosmetics brand to provide you with an amazing selection of beauty products for pageant and everyday use. Harsh stage lights have a way of making eyes look smaller, fight back with lashes so thick and beautiful you’ll never want to take them off! These fun falsies range from demure to daring, allowing you to achieve a look as dramatic as you desire. Sure, you can buy a pair from the drugstore but nothing can compare to the quality and amount of wears you can have by investing in a trusted pair by Rain Cosmetics.

Drama Lash Lashes by Rain Cosmetics. Photo: Pageant Planet

What to consider when selecting a pageant headshot hair and makeup artist?

Contribution by Devon Knightner

You’ve accepted reality about your pageant headshots. Slay big or go home! You know your pageant headshots have to be flawless in hopes of winning that crown. You know how to find that the photographer and now it’s time to select your hair and makeup artist for your upcoming pageant headshot photoshoot!  

Having the right hairstyle and makeup is the secret ingredient to having a winning pageant headshot. Whether you’re new to the pageant world or a seasoned glam queen, working with pageant hair and makeup stylist gives you an edge over your competition. When you have your photoshoot, photographers usually offer packages that come with hair and makeup included. That’s the best way to go, with a one-stop shop. Especially if most pageant headshot photographer forbids outside stylists.

Meagan Gilbert Photography is an amazing photography that studio offers the whole kit and caboodle! Her work is crisp, bright and lightly retouched. Meagan is an up and coming name in the headshot industry, having worked with Mrs. America 2018 from winning her local title, to sponsoring multiple state pageants across the Midwest to Northeast. Reflecting the work of the big names in the industry and bringing that to an untouched midwest market, Meagan and her team provide top-level boutique services to ensure you are putting your best face forward.

Miss Indiana USA 2018. Photo: Meagan Gilbert Photography

Most pageant headshot hairstylists do pageant makeup. Most pageant headshot makeup artists do hair. It's a win-win! Stylists that can do it all should be the top of your list. Basically, you want your stylist to oversee your flyways or remove any stray hairs that get stuck to your lip-gloss. A hair and face squad that is protecting your glam? They’re there to continuously keep your look perfect throughout your photoshoot. All you should be focused on is being gorgeous and allowing the photographer to direct the best performance out of you!

When it comes to hiring a pageant hair and makeup stylist therapy of things to consider.  First and foremost, you are the boss!

When you interview your potential stylist(s) for your pageant headshot, have some interview questions prepared that cater to your needs as well as what the pageant you're participating in is looking for.  Here are some things to ponder over before your potential interview with your future contract stylist(s):

1.    Can I get that work?

Look at their portfolio. Does anyone look like you, your hair, complexion, face shape or even close to your age? 

2.    Is everything all glam or all natural?

You want a stylist with a range, not one note. Your hair and makeup should look like the real you, just magnified gorgeousness!

3.    Are they a good listener?

Make sure during the interview process that they are attentive, not sidetracked. The last thing you want is to spend your time explaining what you want only to turn around looking like nothing you ever imagined. 

4.    Brush Game

If they don’t have clean brushes, why even bother?

5.    Photoshop or Catfish?

Make sure when reviewing their portfolio and other social media avenues to pay attention to retouches and editing. Everyone needs a little retouching now and again. It’s totally a requirement. Editing or retouching should not correct botched hair or a poor makeup job. You shouldn’t look like a totally different person either.

Now show up to your photo shoot with your clean face and hair ready to click-click-flash!

Julia Scaparotti, Miss Massachusetts USA 2017. Photo: Justin Hammond

How do I find a pageant headshots hair and makeup artist?

Contribution by Devon Knightner

The billion-dollar question: Where are the hair and makeup stylists who actually do pageant hair and makeup for a pageant headshot photoshoot? Being at any level pageant means you need the top tier of anyone who’s involved in your pageant headshot.  So where even begin to look? Hello! Pageant Planet, where else? We have this amazing directory where you can discover hair and makeup artists near you who have worked with local, state and national titleholders. Use our filtering options to narrow your search and find the perfect hair and makeup artists.  

Rory Pan, Miss Georgia's Outstanding Teen 2018, getting her makeup done by Meredith Boyd. Photo: Matt Boyd Photography

Want a more personal touch? Looking for a hair and makeup expert but not sure who to hire? Fill in the form and we will match you with qualified experts who will contact you within 24 hours! Send us a shout! Click the link and we will match you with qualified experts who will contact you within 24 hours!

After you totally obsessed over the pageant planet site and you check your email; your inquiry is answered. You now have a local stylist near you to help start your journey. Don’t stop there. The next best way of finding a hair and makeup artist whose caliber is almost guaranteed to deliver is your pageants sponsored hair and makeup artist.

Some pageants make it a requirement to use their pageant hair and makeup artist at some levels while others have the options available to choose your own as an entering pageant contestant. Remember, your pageant headshots will be on the pageants official site. Make sure to pick a hair and makeup artist who can deliver what's commiserating to the current sponsored pageant hair and makeup artist or better.  

Photo: Kathy Whittaker Photography

Another great place to inquire is photographers themselves. Better yet, your hired photographer! There are some amazing new photographers growing their businesses. While expanding, a few hold their caliber of photography high enough to rival the top studios in the business.  Gianna Nicole is a photographer, motivational speaker and marketing guru based in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. Founder of Gianna Nicole Media established in 2014. Gianna's life's work is to raise up people in the pageant, fashion and entertainment worlds through emotionally provoking imagery -- authentically getting to know each and every one of her clients, and telling a story through her photography.

With a refined aesthetic and flair for the dramatics Gianna has garnered more than 10 'Top Photographers' awards internationally. She has also shot numerous magazine covers and featured editorials. Gianna and her team have worked with big name brands such as BRAVO, Barrett Jackson, Vogue, NYFW, Snoop Dogg, WETV and Style Fashion Week. 

Photographer: Gianna Nicole

Stop by and see her on Pageant Planet! Get amazing pageant headshots while asking about brand management.

These tips should help you secure any hair and makeup stylist to make your pageant headshots a winning success.

How much should a hair and makeup artists cost for pageant headshots?

Contribution by Devon Knightner

We all love getting a makeover at the MAC counter for that wonderful gala event we’re going to. We like the price even better. A regular stylist who slays our hair on a regular basis is great for hair maintenance, special event and maybe even your pageant interview styling. You may love your stylist and he or she may love you, but if she is not a pageant hair stylist, then your relationship may have to take a brief pause until the end of your photoshoot. 

The price can get pretty steep so make sure you trust your choice of photographer and hair and makeup team. It doesn’t matter if you’re having your photoshoot at their studio, a hotel room or in your home, be prepared to be organized and know exactly what you want. Budget your photography finances that include the price range to span from $150 to around $700. Some stylists charge by the hour with a two-hour minimum starting at $75-$600 per hour depending on the location, duration and the type styling you’d like.

Sephora and Ulta are phenomenal stores. The makeup artists there have impeccable customer service skills and can really slay makeup. Those places are wonderful to have your makeup done for day or evening events, not necessarily for your pageant headshots. Even if you brought samples of your outfits for your pageant headshot photoshoot and your makeup is flawless and ready for your close-up; you run the risk of your makeup not matching your outfits underneath the photographer's lighting.

You’ve saved up for this pageant and you want everything to be what you imagined it would be. Don’t waste your money on what you think is a quick fix. Do your research. Although cosmetics stores are cost-effective, you could end up paying for two makeovers that day.

Photo: Kathy Whittaker Photography

You want a hair and makeup artist who can work with your photographer. They all have to be on one accord with lighting, coloring and the entire flow of your shoot. The best bang for your buck is the pageant photographer with all of the package perks that include hair and makeup for your pageant headshot photo shoot.


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