How many actors aren’t putting their best foot forward by getting their headshot wrong?
I’d suggest there’s a lot getting it wrong, but I’m not sure it’s because they’re intentionally cutting corners.
Actors work hard, very hard. Most of the time they’re working very hard at a craft that isn’t actually their main source of income. I’ve not met an actor or actress who is only in it for the potential rewards. Actors generally love acting. It doesn’t make sense that people would intentionally cut corners on the very thing that can open the doors of opportunity, or slam them shut.
In photography it’d be like me after years training, having spent tens of thousands of dollars on equipment, displaying all of my images on a website in low resolution, to save a few hundred dollars, because it’s good enough. Thinking like this is not going to attract the type of clients I want in my studio.
Nobody should aim for good enough, if they are serious about their career.
There are so many styles of acting roles it’s not easy to know what is going to work, what works for one won’t work for another actor, so you’d best spend a little time getting such a huge part of showing off yourself right.
Once you get awesome head shots you need to get an agent if you’re taking yourself and acting seriously.
Which style do you prefer?
Which parts are you going for?
Do you have an agent? Who manages your styling?
Do you have a specific acting background?
What age ranges are you wanting to audition for?
Have you had headshots taken before? If so, did they work for you, what did you like and dislike about them?
If you’ve never had headshots before, that’s fine, but you still need to have the conversations.
Insist on a consultation with your photographer prior to your shoot. Either by telephone or in person. If the photographer doesn’t touch on at least some of the subjects/questions above, then that’s not a great sign.
Use a Headshot Specialist.
If you want to present yourself as a professional, use a professional photographer to suit your purpose. Want a headshot professional photographer, use a Headshot Specialist.
Learning how the human face will react in certain situations is not something that comes natural, even to professional photographers, unless they’ve studied and practiced it over and over.
It’s the photographer’s job to make you look, and feel good in front of the camera, not yours. Your only job is to nail that audition, it’s the photographers job to get you a headshot which gets you through that door and in front of the Casting Director.
All about Emotion
For me, this is probably the number one factor in poor headshots.
If a Casting Director is looking at your headshot, they will most probably have seen it while scrolling through scores of tiny JPEGs on a computer screen. It is soo, important that YOUR headshot stands out for its expression, its personality. Look at the two of Nick Mena above!
You need to make a Casting Director stop and notice. If you can’t show personality in a headshot, a casting director won’t have confidence in you showing personality while the cameras are rolling, when time is money.
You also need to have a range of expressions in your headshots.
Whether you’re going for the clean cut commercial headshot, or the badass character in an action, there’s two fundamental aspects every headshot needs to have.
It needs to have confidence, and approachability.
That’s right, even the tough guy you’re playing needs to have a bit of approachability about him or her. It adds depth to your headshot, and will intrigue the Casting Director looking for somebody who stands out from the crowd. Furrow your brow and don’t smile? Anybody could do that. Give them something with more emotional depth, badass yet human? Now we’re talking. Getting that perfect mix of confidence and approachability in your headshot is a process, but it’s a fun process.
If you look at your current headshot right now, think it has a blank expression, wide eyes, or awkward mouth, you should seriously think about whether it’s doing you more harm than good.
Outside or Studio Headshots?
There’s no right or wrong answer. I personally prefer to shoot headshots at my studio. However done right, environmental headshots can look great too.
The main component to consider is choosing your preferred background for headshots, whether there are distractions that will catch the eye, taking attention away from the star of the show, you! I shoot on a plain background in the studio, so there’s zero chance of background distractions. This becomes a little more tricky when you’re shooting outside, but a really good headshot photographer will have you sorted.
I always say just keep the crop to your head and shoulders. Any more than that is unnecessary. As we spoke about earlier, the Casting Director is scrolling through your headshot, along with many others, on tiny JPGs. You need to be as prominent in the frame as possible without it being weird. A crop beneath chest will put more of your chest, and less of your face in the frame, lessening the impact of otherwise killer images!
It’s up there with emotion as the biggest headshot fail I see. I know the retouching isn’t in your hands, but I want you to look out for it when you book your headshot photographer.
Blemish removal, skin tone, colour correction, some hair tidy up, should really be the only things happening to your actor’s headshot after your session. There’s nothing more frustrating for a Casting Director than somebody walking into an audition who looks nothing like their headshot. There’s little chance that Director will call you in again.
If you find the right photographer, his or her lighting skills will take care of most skin imperfections anyway. So they won’t need to blast the skin in retouching which takes skin texture out, and makes you look like a different person.
There are small tell tale signs for you to look out for with over retouching.
You can see it in the whites of their eyes! When an image has those perfect whites in the eyes, it’s obvious retouching has gone too far. A Director will think, what else have they retouched here? Not only does it look weird, the eyes lose their pop.
A clean overall look, natural expression with something extra going on, accompanied by killer lighting that accentuates your best features, will get you call backs.
If you’re not sure about which way to go then drop me an email or text your number so we can chat to iron out your worries.