My #1 Rule For Headshots
This is going to sound super obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: your headshot should look like you. Too many actors end up with a photo that simply doesn't look like them. Too glamorous, too perfect, too young, too old, or a million other possible issues.
The Main Function of a Headshot
Actors often feel so much anxiety and expectation around headshots that sometimes the actual purpose of them gets lost. Remember, the main function of your headshot is to show casting directors what you look like. If they call you in for a part and you show up not looking like your photo, you’ve just wasted their time. So now you’re not going to book that part, and you'll also miss out on all those parts that you would have been perfect for!
What This Means For Your Next Headshot Session
This is a rule to keep in mind throughout the whole process, from choosing your photographer, to deciding on your looks, to working with your hair and makeup artist, and during the retouching process.
- Choosing a headshot photographer
When you’re choosing a photographer, the obvious place to start is to ask your reps, teachers, coaches, and friends for recommendations. Once you’ve compiled your list of options, you can narrow them down according to your budget.
Now dig into the portfolios of each of the photographers. Look for people who are similar types to you. Do they look natural? Like a real person and not excessively retouched? Can you picture yourself in that image?
- Deciding on looks for your headshot session
I’ll write another blog devoted entirely to looks/types, but this one is specifically about focusing on looks that are appropriate for you. Sometimes people go SO far from themselves with their looks that they are almost unrecognizable.
I love how versatile you are as an actor, and we definitely want to show your range in your headshots! That said, it's best to hone in on the types that you are most readily cast-able in. The point of different looks isn’t to LOSE you in the character, the point is to SEE you in the character. If you’ve never been called in for a gritty badass, then we might not want to lean all the way into that type. Maybe we just find a slightly edgier version of one of your other looks, to hint at that for the casting director.
- Hair and Makeup for your session
I work with some FANTASTIC hair and makeup artists for my headshot sessions, and we always make a point of having a conversation with the client at the beginning of the session to get on the same page. This is a time when you as the actor can be vocal about your preferences and relationship with makeup and hair styles. Don’t feel bad about speaking up! It’s your money, and your headshot session. For example, if you hardly ever wear makeup, even going to an audition, then we certainly don’t want to get you ready for the Met Gala. This is a collaboration!
I have a whole blog about retouching (short version: I think everyone should get their photos retouched). But for now, let’s just focus on this idea: I want your headshot to look like you on your best day.
I use retouching to remove temporary blemishes, distracting flyaway hairs, and wardrobe issues. I’ll also do some slightly more in-depth work to make the image really pop. Headshot retouching is not about making the actor look perfect, changing bone structure, or making the actor look ten years younger.
I just want your photo to look like you on your best day.
All this to say, YOUR HEADSHOT SHOULD LOOK LIKE YOU!