It's much more than just an 8x10 photo with your name on it.
IT IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MARKETING TOOL AS AN ACTOR!
IF YOU'RE NEW TO THE BUSINESS OF ACTING,
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS WELL WORTH THE TEN MINUTES IT WILL TAKE YOU TO READ
Personal portraits and actor's headshots can be very similar in some aspects and vary quite a lot in others! A modeling portfolio varies to an even greater extent.*********************
If you're serious about acting, you should get serious about your actor's headshot.
YOUR ACTOR'S HEADSHOT should possess a number of essential characteristics.
While there are several important technical elements that go into creating a great headshot, there are also a few very important personal questions that YOU need to consider:
1) Does your headshot look like you when you walk into an audition or is it a departure from your current look?
2) Does it market what you have to sell in terms of your character range, age range and TYPE?
Remember, a headshot is just as much about who you are as what you look like.
3) Does your expression have a natural or spontaneous and genuine look?
4) Does it grab the attention of and connect with the casting director when he or she is deciding who to call in?
5) Did you get high quality, professional 8x10 reproductions or are you using cheap copies of the original on regular size paper?
6) Does your current headshot give you a measure of confidence when walking into an audition?
These details can make a big difference. If you can't answer these questions with any level of certainty about your own headshot, you may not be landing as many auditions as you would like to and may very well need a new headshot! Casting directors may look at hundreds of headshots on a regular basis and only spend an average of three seconds looking at each one; your headshot should conform to industry standards AND you should have a headshot that makes them stop to take a closer look at you for the right reasons! Unfortunately, many actors often hang on to a headshot for all the wrong reasons.
If you're getting called in for auditions and you no longer look like your headshot because you are older, or you have a completely different hair style, lost weight, gained weight or any other reason, a casting director may pass on you. They may have had you in mind for a specific character based on the way you look in the headshot your agent submitted! Perhaps your hair was long in your headshot and now it's cut short! It's like ordering something by mail and when you open the box, it doesn't look like what you ordered! You're disappointed and ready to send it back.
You may be a very talented actor but casting can't always take the time to "rethink" what other role you are best suited for. When you are chosen from a huge stack of headshots, the casting director, for the most part, expects to see the same person at the audition...that is, the person best suited to play the character they had in mind for you!
You may be in love with your old headshot for some reason but if it doesn't look like you anymore, you are defeating the whole purpose of a headshot. Don't misunderstand, I think you should love your headshot; BUT, for all the right reasons.
Your headshot should look like you do, the current you, the real you. Most importantly, it should capture your overall appearance in a marketable form that features your character range, age range and type! A headshot session is NOT, I repeat, NOT the time to act out character roles or dress up in costumes. Casting will decide on who you are best to play based on your natural features; so be yourself.
Certainly, you want to look your best for your session.....of course! You just don't want to go over the top with ultra-glamorous hair styles and so forth unless you plan to do that for every audition you go to. Your headshot should represent the real you as much as possible, accenting your best features at the same time. Getting called in is half the battle; what you do at the audition is the other half. Starting out the process with a great headshot gives you an important edge!
Remember, you will be competing with other actors who take their profession and the quality of their headshot very seriously......and others who do not. Which category would you rather be in?
HERE ARE SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ACTOR'S HEADSHOTS
How many looks do I need, one, two, three, four?
Every actor has their own theory on this but if you want regular work, your headshot should clearly identify your character type. Your character type is what you will most often get called in for and you should stick with that. It's your look. Remember, a good headshot should establish your character type and identity or look. You should be fairly easy to visualize and when a character breakdown comes across the casting agent's desk.....hopefully, it will be you that pops into mind for a specific role. In reality, one really solid, up to date headshot is all you need to establish your look. However, because many actors will audition for dramatic and commercial roles, the general guideline would be a max of two. Most actors feel having two and using the "audition appropriate" headshot will improve their odds of getting the role. One headshot that is warm and friendly with a pleasant smile for commercial work and perhaps another, more intense or serious character headshot for dramatic work. If having reproductions of two different headshots works for your budget, go for it. If not, one "standout" headshot is all you need.
How should my headshot be cropped? Just my head? My head and shoulders? Down to my bust line? Can it be a half-length? Should it be formatted as portrait or landscape? (Vertical or Horizontal)
While the industry standard for a headshot is generally head and shoulders, the actor or performer may feel what they have to offer in terms of upper body should be included to better market themselves according to type. For example, it would be an injustice to provide an actor with a headshot of head and shoulders only if they have extremely muscular arms with tattoos. The muscles and tattoos may be considered a powerful selling point in terms of character type as well as body type and consequently land the actor more auditions in that range. Male or female, ultimately, the choice is yours. If you go with something below the bust line however, be it physical type or "posturing", there should be a good reason for it. Otherwise, your headshot then becomes a BODY shot.
Portrait or Landscape style formatting? (Vertical vs Horizontal)
Again, this is a matter of preference and also subject to trends. Actors, talent agents, casting agents, photographers...no matter who you ask, everyone has an opinion on this and reasons why they recommend one over the other. However, before making the decision for one or the other with your headshot, an actor should consider a number of details that could make a difference in the future. For example, how does your agent present all headshots on the agency website? How will that affect your decision? Will your image get cropped differently or not? Bad cropping can be a game-changer for your look. Where else on the web will your headshot appear? Will those sites affect the way your headshot looks? Does choosing either format truly compliment your image in some way? Does it have an impact on how you are perceived by casting agents? All good questions! The trouble is, so many people have different answers, you may feel like it's difficult to make a decision that will yield positive results. Don't want to take a chance? I would suggest asking your agent what they would advise you to do before you have your headshot session. OR.....take a look at any movie cast list on the IMDB; how are all the actor's headshots presented there? How are they formatted? You'll find that the vast majority are in portrait format. Me? I'm a traditionalist when it comes to headshots and prefer portrait style formatting over landscape or horizontal. As I've said in reference to backgrounds, it's more about your face. If you've got the look the casting person wants and you do well at your audition, the difference between portrait and landscape becomes a moot point.
Should my headshot be done in a studio or outdoors?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question and it's a matter of client preference. In most cases, a properly lit, head and shoulders headshot that looks like you do on most days of the week and possesses the other elements we discussed will do the job it is expected to do; this can be in studio OR outdoors. When shooting outdoors, it is important however, that the background is not a major distraction. This is why when shooting an actor's headshot on location, our preference is to shoot with a very shallow depth of field...meaning, the background is extremely blurred with only your face in focus. A headshot is after all, about your face and not the background. This is why a seamless, neutral gray or off-white background is often used in studio because ALL of the attention is then on your face and only your face. Headshots with a wall full of easy to read graffiti in the background, train yards, junk yards, trees, buildings and so forth may look cool and work well for a modeling portfolio but again, a headshot is not about the background, it's about your facial features. In some cases, an actor's character features may actually be complimented by a specific background scheme and natural daylight. This of course can vary quite a bit from actor to actor. If you're into being TRENDY however, it seems the general trend is to shoot actor's headshots outdoors. In either case, if you are of a certain character type and your headshot is a professionally done reproduction, the casting person will be judging your character type by your face more than the background no matter what the background may be. Nevertheless, it remains a matter of client preference. We will do your session in our studio or wherever you think would work best for you.
What if I don't have an agent?
If you do not have an agent, it will be difficult, if not impossible to get auditions for yourself beyond the role of "extra". You need an agent. In most cases, you will not be able to sign with one however, until you have your headshot done. In fact, it is recommended that you don't even attempt to sign with an agent until you have your headshot and your reproductions done.
Your headshot will be the first thing the agency asks to see when you interview with them. Handing the agent a stunning headshot of yourself when you meet will make you look more professional. Having a dozen extra ones to give them if they are interested in signing you will only make you look more professional. Otherwise, you're wasting their time and yours. It's like going to apply for a job without a pen to fill out the application.
Most actors will get 100 professional headshot reproductions done....twenty or thirty for the agent and the rest for you to use every time you go to an audition. Casting usually requires talent to bring two headshots to each audition; not two different ones, but two of what you are using as your principal headshot. The ones you give to your agent and the ones you take to an audition should always have your current resume stapled to the back of each at all four corners. While we do not provide multiple reproductions, there are many reproduction places listed on the internet in both NY and LA that you can choose from. If you like, we can always recommend a few for you.
Why do I need to spend money on a hundred 8x10 reproductions anyway; can't I just print them on my own printer using regular copy paper?
Even though more and more casting is being done via the internet using agents websites or services like Actor's Access, you still have to submit a professional headshot when you get called in for an audition. Getting professional reproductions of your headshot using the correct size of 8x10 is important; otherwise, you may be perceived as an amateur who doesn't know what they're doing. Why take that chance? As a professional actor, you should know what is required of you when you go to auditions and always present yourself as a professional. That means having professionally reproduced 8x10 headshots with your resume stapled to the back. You should always take TWO with you when going to auditions. Never have your resume printed on the back of your headshot. It should be updated regularly and printed on 8x10 paper and stapled to the back at all four corners.
If you expect to be considered for a role in a multi-million dollar film project, you should start by having your headshot meet industry standards, know your way around the set and certainly be able to deliver your lines in a consistent manner for every take they do; that includes reversal shots when the camera isn't even on you. If you start out by going to the audition with a headshot that doesn't meet the basic professional standards, how can you expect casting directors to think you know what you're doing?
Can I bring a few friends with me to the shoot?
This is definitely not recommended and generally will not work to your advantage. Friends and family can be a major distraction to you; especially if they are looking over the photographer's shoulder and directing the shoot, telling you to act like a tiger or some other ridiculous advice. HOWEVER, if you are under the age of 18, we REQUIRE you to have a parent or legal guardian present to sign paperwork and sit throughout the shoot. Otherwise, as a professional adult, you need to be focused on getting the best headshot possible. If you need reassurance that you will be working in a professional environment, we understand. Once you are comfortable with that, we ask that your friend wait for you somewhere else until you're done.
As a professional photographer who has also worked in the film and television industry for the last eighteen years,
If you're serious about working on a multi-million dollar film,
we can help you achieve results that will help you get called for auditions in your range, more often.
Our session fee always includes up to three looks, proofs online, minor touchups (like unexpected blemishes), cropping, border formatting, including your name, your final choice as a high resolution, ready-to-print file on disc and an 8x10 master print for your duplication printer to use as an exposure guideline; all for only $175 in studio and $225 on location. If you've done your research, you know that actors in NY and LA will pay twice as much or even more for the same package and often charge $10-$20 extra for minor touch-ups, cropping and border formatting. Again, our session fee is all inclusive. Choice of studio or location, weather permitting. Speaking of touch ups, we recommend that touch ups are restricted to temporary issues, like blemishes, which will be gone two days after your shoot. Anything beyond that is NOT recommended.
If your new headshot helps you get just one job that you may have otherwise missed out on, it's worth it. Considering the SAG day player rate for film pays over $800 and commercials at over $600 plus residuals;
................it's well worth it!
Your headshot can be processed as COLOR or B&W. Even though industry preference has shifted toward color and is recommended by most casting agents and talent agents, you can decide which works best for you and your specific look. B&W has been the industry standard for so long, many theater performers in particular like the traditional look it provides. HOWEVER, COLOR is what's being done today! Natural features, like red hair, green eyes or blue eyes that should stand out as part of your marketing strategy, demand color headshots. SO.....you may want to stick with color.
If you haven't had a headshot session in a while or if this is your first, we strongly recommend reading the section about
"HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SESSION" on the lower half of our bio page. It will help you properly prepare for your headshot session with helpful suggestions about wardrobe, make-up, hair and more. In short, it will help us help YOU get a better headshot. If you have any questions, please ASK US.......we want to help you be successful.
you should be willing to invest in professional headshots and quality reproductions that are the proper size.
*We use professional level digital equipment for all of our photography work and post processing.*
If you want professional looking results with your headshot or modeling portfolio and a competitive price,
CALL US TODAY
We guarantee professional results.
MODELS, if you are new to the industry, please don't book a headshot session with us and expect to turn it into a modeling session upon arrival. The set-up requirements and rates for each are not the same. In addition, modeling shoots take much more time to do and in most cases, require using up to four or five different styles of wardrobe with half-length and full-length shots of each; this is in addition to a headshot! If you are in doubt take a look at our rate sheet for models and give us a call if you have any questions. If you are under 18, please have your parent or guardian call to arrange an appointment. Thanks!