Getting your headshots done soon?
There is a lot to think about.
Your headshot is the most powerful marketing tool you have; it is an investment in your success. Getting it right is the difference between catching the eye of a casting director and being discarded and disregarded.
Here are 10 Hot Headshot Tips to bear in mind from choosing a photographer, to preparing for the shoot, to making that all important final selection.
1. Think Like A Casting Director
Put yourself in their shoes when they look at headshots. They look at hundreds. Nightmare! Believe it or not they actually want you to be the right person for the job – makes their life easier! But you only have a fraction of a second to get their attention before their eyes move to a shot of one of your fellow actors. Make that fraction of a second count. It’s all in the eyes…
2. Research Your Photographers
Research your headshot photographers! Ask for recommendations – always better than just choosing purely on the portfolio alone. If you like an actor’s headshot contact them (you can find ANYONE on the web these days!) – send them a friendly tweet asking who did the shot and more importantly what were they like to work with! They will be flattered you like their shot and most people like to share good experiences.
3. Choose A Pro, Not Your Best Mate!
Go pro for your headshot. Seems obvious but headshots require a very specific style of work. Just because your head is in it does not make it a headshot. Avoid having a friend do it. Get someone who actually does this for a living and can take shots that will get you a job. If your shots don’t look professional, you will look like you don’t care about your career or you don’t know what you’re doing. Either way that’s not good.
4. Check Out Actors You Know
When considering headshot photographers, Google the clients on their website to see if the headshot is flattering or not. If you actually know the actor, even better – you know what they look like in the flesh so you can see what that photographer could do for you! Remember though – you should look exactly like yourself – just the best version of yourself (like you’ve had several good nights sleep and been living a healthy life!).
5. Consider The “Look & Feel”
When choosing your headshot photographer, consider the look and “feel” (emotion conveyed) of their shots. If the look in the eyes of the shots you see is nervous, hesitant or just plain “dead”, then it’s likely you will look like that too. If, however, the shots convey emotion and have that certain something you can’t put your finger on, then it’s likely the photographer has some knack of pulling that out of the actor and then they will probably do this with you. This is what will get the attention of a casting director.
6. Don’t Choose Purely On Price
Don’t choose your photographer purely on price. Obviously everyone has a budget but you should really be deciding on the quality of the photographer’s work and their reputation. Your headshot is the MOST important thing to getting you work. It is an investment. You simply will not get through the door to show how amazing you can be if your headshot doesn’t interest the casting director/agent etc. Sad but true.
7. Prepare Like You Would For An Audition
Prepare for your headshot session! Don’t go out the night before! Seems obvious doesn’t it…? You wouldn’t do it the night before a big audition (I hope not anyway!) so treat this in the same way. For a week or 2 before the shoot get lots of sleep, eat properly, don’t drink much booze and do drink lots of water.
8. It’s All About The Eyes
Practice in front of a mirror. You are a performer – this should be a doddle for you. Avoid ‘dead’ eyes at all costs! This is what a casting director will think they will get from you when they are looking at your headshot and imagining you in the role!
9. Don’t Nit Pick
When choosing shots – don’t nit pick over whatever it is that you don’t like about your face if it’s likely no one else would notice it anyway! This will just mean you can’t see the wood from the trees when choosing images (or rather the money shot that will get your work!) Bear in mind that casting directors look at your shot very briefly to see if it fits with the image of the character in their head. They will not be seeing that your left eyebrow is half a millimetre higher than the right! Only you see that! Remember everyone sees everyone else as a complete package – they do not see what you see about yourself (i.e. a series of unconnected bits of face that could be improved!)
10. Look Like Your Best SELF
A good reaction from a casting director when you arrive at the audition is “ We love your headshot!”, not “Er, is this you…?”. You should look like your own best self. Be proud of who you are!
A P Wilding is a London based portrait and fashion photographer. Alexa discovered a love for photography at Art College. She then took a change of direction and became a model and actress but continued taking photographs for pleasure. She then turned professional and currently splits her time between fashion work and performers headshots.