My Miss USA Headshot Adventure

 In Commercial Photography, HeadshotPros, Headshots

I love learning and am constantly looking for ways to improve my headshot skills. So when my dear friend and makeup artist extraordinaire, Nicole West, invited me to travel to Dallas for an up-close and personal behind-the-scenes view of a headshot photo session for several contestants in the Miss USA pageant — you know I jumped at the opportunity. Nicole is the official makeup artist for Miss USA.

Now, full disclosure, I was not the photographer but was able to assist and work with awesome glamor and headshot photographer Zac Grimaldo to learn some new tricks for getting those incredible shots.

I was able to see the whole process from wardrobe selection, hair and makeup, setting up the studio, lighting, and posing. Zac always does an incredible job with his portraits and headshots, and it was a wonderful opportunity to hang out with some of the industry’s best.

Here’s a little tour of all that goes into a pageant headshot. (With the exception of the final shot at the end, these are all unedited cell shots).

Miss Nebraska USA in hair and makeup for her headshot.
Current Miss USA, Sarah Rose Summers (Miss Nebraska at the time), in makeup with atrist Nicole West, getting ready the next portion of her photo session.
Miss Arkansas posing for her headshot
Headshot set up for Miss Arkansas.
Closeup during the headshot shoot for Miss Arkansas.
Zac is setting up the lighting for this shot of Lauren – Miss Arkansas (unedited cell capture)
Miss Oklahoma in hair and makeup for her headshot.
Cheyenne – Miss Oklahoma in hair & makeup with Nicole before her headshot session.
Miss Oklahoma posing for her headshot.
Here is Cheyenne posing
Miss Missouri posing for her headshot.
Tori – Miss Missouri and her turn in front of the camera.

These beautiful women were all professional models and really knew how to work the camera, so I got tips from them as well – that even us regular humans can use to engage with the camera. I had a great time capturing all these behind the scenes details (I caught lots of BTS social media footage for the contestants) and was excited to come home and add some new skills to my repertoire.


Final headshot of Miss USA.
Official headshot from this session with Miss Nebraska, Sarah Rose Summer, who was later crowned Miss USA. Photo by Zac Grimaldo, Makeup by Nicole West.
And special thanks to the VanBros team for letting me tag along!

If you can’t go to Dallas for a headshot session with Zac and Nicole, I’m right here in East Valley/Gilbert Area and ready to help you get an incredible headshot. While I can’t promise to make you Miss USA, I can promise that we’ll have a great time shooting your headshot, I’ll coach you to get some fabulous images and make sure you look your very best.

To schedule your headshot appointment with me at HeadshotProsAZ, click here.

*Note on makeup: I have an awesome makeup artist right here in town that I work with if you prefer professional hair and makeup for your session. Just ask when you inquire about your appointment.

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