The headshot is the single most important marketing tool for an actor. Most aspiring actors get it wrong just so they can get it for cheap. It is time to take headshots seriously because when it comes to acting, it is as important as your CV. You want the casting director who sees your headshot to like you and remember you not get scared or confused.
Your headshot is like a business card, it reflects your persona and your attitude. Dull, obscure and cheap headshots do not portray confidence and will certainly not land you that role you have been dreaming of. A good headshot has to be a nice color 8x10 that has your whole face, without a lot editing. This business card will get you that audition, it is what people will refer to while hiring you. Your headshots have to be perfect because it will be sent out to different agencies and casting directors who see hundreds of these every day. If your headshot lacks appeal and appears cheap, you most certainly have to redo it. You want to be taken seriously in the industry and not a cheapskate amateur. Your presentation of yourself is everything. You want people to take you seriously so do not go for a low quality phone picture which came out “kinda nice”. Those pictures are going to get you several likes on Facebook and Instagram, but will fail to bring you that job you want because you don’t appear serious enough.
Here is what you need to keep in mind when it comes to your headshots:
Spend money where you need to and it will be worth it. Your headshots have to be shot by a professional who knows what he is doing, understands lighting, and takes pictures for a profession. Do not rely on a friend who could be a photographer and has a good camera because that is not enough. A professional will know how to make you look your best and that is important here. Professional headshots can cost anywhere between $400-$1,200 . To get your pictures professionally duplicated will cost you another $100.If you are being charged anything less, it is not because you got are lucky but it is because they are not cheap shots, and yes, it is very important to not portray cheap as your basic attitude.
Your headshots have to look like you and not an entirely different person. Casting directors don’t want to know what you can look like, they want to know what you look like. Making sure your pictures present you and not your dream is a start. Lay low with the airbrushing, don’t hide your wrinkles because your wrinkles are part of your personality. When casting directors are looking at your pictures, they are looking for a character and not the prettiest face. You have to represent what you are like, what your personality is all about and what is your attitude. Your headshots have to look like you, on your best day, not you 10 years before.
Your eyes have to capture the magic that you want to bring to the screen. Just like on-camera acting, your eyes have a role to play in telling the story and what’s happening behind them. It is your headshot, the lights are on you, this is your moment. Your eyes should be alive, focused and glazing. Bring that spark alive in your eyes and do not go deadbeat. Your eyes should be able to capture your thoughts, implying a little mystery and an enthusiasm for life. Alive and soul-piercing eyes help bring a picture to life and that is what will make you stand out from the rest. A professional photographer will be able to guide you and bring the best out in you.
A good headshot should be chest-up and shot in portrait. Your head has to be in focus , not any other part of the frame. Don’t go for extreme closeups because nobody really needs that. Candid’s are good for Instagram but not for headshots so, pose. Instagram and Facebook poses are a strict no-no. You have to project personality and confidence so look directly into the camera. The background of a headshot has to be blurred because no one wants to concentrate on the potted plant on the side of the frame. A good, high-quality camera with a high depth of field will ensure a sharp picture which makes your features stand out.
natural light and studio light is both beneficial but you have to know what to use when. Natural light will give you a more real look, or a “film” look, whereas studio lighting is more glamourous. Both these lightings make for great pictures but you have to know your type, like if you are going for a sitcom actor, a well-lit studio headshot is more suitable but if you want to for a murder mystery type of thing, natural light is better.
You don’t have to stand out from the rest by doing something inexplicably stupid like putting a bird on your head. Normal, simple and classy is what your goal should be. Unique is surely a category but more than often people end up making a fool out of themselves to make sure they stand out. You want to portray professionalism and not desperation. A simple attire with a little texture that goes with you well and matches your eyes should be more than enough. Don’t go for whites and graphics or anything that might distract the attention from your face. Don’t go for props either because it is also very distracting, limiting and simply put- too much.
Of course you need makeup but you don’t need to look like a ghost, or a person who is 10 years younger than you. You have to look your age, and your color even if you want it to be a different age and a different color. You don’t need to put on tons of makeup to try and look different, you want to look like yourself on your best day so look like yourself. Keep your hair updo simple, like the way you would for an audition. Some people overspend on the makeup and end up looking so fake that they have to get it done all over again, so it’s only a waste of money.
Most importantly, get a photographer who you can depend on. You have to feel comfortable with your photographer as you will hopefully be using your headshot for a couple of years so do your research and select a compatible photographer who you can trust blindly. Look through different portfolios and select someone who you think can represent you, and your personality the best. Get a consultation and work through different ideas to best represent your attitude, type, color and ethnicity because this is the first stepping stone for your career.