The Actor's Headhsot - A Necessary Tool for Success
WHAT IS A HEADSHOT?
It's not just a 8x10 photo with your name - IT IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MARKETING TOOL AS AN ACTOR!
THIS 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.
An ACTOR'S HEADSHOT however, 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 age range and most importantly, your TYPE? Do you KNOW your type? If not, you should. Your type is usually what you get called in for the most....or what you tend to look like the most. Are you the rugged blue collar kind of guy? A meek accountant? A lawyer or banker? An FBI agent? A policman? Are you a high school cheerleader, a suburban Mom, a moody teen, district attorney, judge, a grandma, a loner, a floozy, a librarian? You must know your general type and your headshot should reflect or suggest that type. Your headshot is a lot about what you tend to look like in real life.
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 copy 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 look at hundreds of headshots on a regular basis and only spend an average of four seconds OR LESS looking at each one; 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. You may look fantastic in your headshot, but if it's out of date, it's counterproductive. 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! Maybe you were heavy and now you're thin. 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 if you don't look like your headshot. 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 know, the person in the headshot they looked at! That person.
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 mentioned here.
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 type and age range. A headshot session is NOT, I repeat, NOTthe time to act out extreme character roles or dress up in costumes or hats. It will make you look amateurish. Casting will decide on who you are best to play based on your natural features; so be yourself in your headshot and save the acting for your audition.
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. Again, your headshot should represent the real you and demonstrate your "type" as much as possible, accenting your best features at the same time. Getting called in is half the battle; what you choose to 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 veryseriously......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. Your face 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 and it should be one with a pleasant smile.....like the commercial headshot. It will work well for any audition. Don't like to smile? Don't do commercial work? Go with your general character type.
Some actors will post too many images online thinking it will make them look more versatile and this can possibly work against them; upload too many looks and you may "dilute" your true character type. You may end up looking like an actor who is "acting". Again, have a solid, dynamic, vibrant headshot in hand and let casting decide what they want to do with your look. That is their job. It's your job to give them what they want when you audition!.
Do I have to look directly at the lens of the camera?
If you're an actor and the purpose of your session is an actor's headshot, then YES! You must look directly at the camera's lens. This is an industry standard! Eye contact with the camera means eye contact with whoever eventually looks at your headshot....and headshots are all about the eyes because they say so much about you as a person or character type. The energy and "story" in your eyes can make your headshot more captivating. You should never be looking away from the camera in an actor's headshot. Save that for modeling photos.
How should my headshot be cropped? Just my head? My head and shoulders? Down to my bust line? Can it be a half-length?
While the industry standard for a headshot is generally head and shoulders, in some cases, 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 only head and shoulders if they have extremely muscular arms with vivid 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 begins to go in the direction of a half-length or body shot..............On the flip side of the coin, having a headshot that is "over-cropped", or is cutting too much from the top of your head or elsewhere may not be a good idea either. It could make it appear that you're hiding something. Like I said, everyone has their own idea and style when it comes to headshots. You have to decide what works best for you and talk to your photographer........communicate your preferences. We want you to be happy with your headshot..
Headshot Formats - Portrait or Landscape? (Vertical vs Horizontal)
Talk with Actors, talent agents, casting agents or photographers.....no matter who you ask, everyone has an opinion on these details; some may have valid 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 points that could make a difference in the future.
For example, what format does your agent present all headshots on the agency website? How will that affect your decision? If your image is a horizontal crop, Will it get cropped differently based on your agent's web presentation 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 if it gets re-cropped as a square perhaps? Invariably, it will have an impact on your original headshot.
Think about it, 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 very 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 you 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 cast list headshots are ALL presented in portrait format.
I'm a traditionalist when it comes to headshots and prefer portrait style formatting over landscape or horizontal. You are welcome to request what you prefer if you want something different. I'll be happy to oblige your wishes. However, As I've said in reference to different 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 or backgrounds becomes a moot point.
Additionally, when it comes to how your headshot is presented on different websites, having a format that is inconsistent with that can do more harm than good; so give it some consideration before moving forward with your actor's headshot. My advice? Go with standard PORTRAIT style formatting.
Should my Actor's Headshot be done in color or B&W?
COLOR! COLOR! COLOR! With the advent of digital photography and digital printing services, COLOR actor headshot print reproductions have become relatively inexpensive. There was a time when all actor headshots were shot and reproduced in B&W only. It was cheap to do! Reproductions were done using a master print and the repros wer made from a large negative of that print.
Today, everything is computerized and COLOR is now considered industry standard; it is also what is expected by casting agents. While B&W Actor Headshots are still used by some theater professionals, it is no longer the case with feature film and television work. However, if you want your headshot done in B&W for personal or special professional reasons, we will provide you with the best! Otherwise, go with COLOR reproductions of your headshot.
Should my headshot be done in a studio or outdoors?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question either; it's a matter of aesthetics and client preference in terms of what YOU prefer. 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 fairly shallow depth of field...........meaning, the background is extremely blurred out but your head and face are in focus. A headshot is after all, about your face and not the background. I PREFER AN ALL WHITE BACKGROUND.......I believe it features the actor well without any distractions and has a clean look about it.
This is why a seamless, neutral gray or pure-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, cemeteries, junk yards and so forth may look cool to you and even work well for a modeling portfolio but again, a headshot is not about the background, it's about your facial features, personality and character type.
In a few cases, an actor's character features may actually be complimented by a specific background and natural daylight. This of course can vary quite a bit from actor to actor. If you're into TRENDS however, the general trend today seems to be shooting actor's headshots on location. It has been said that it gives the headshot more of an edge. In some cases this is true........usually because some folks are often stiff in the studio but more comfortable out in the environment.
Ask anyone in the industry:an actor should be natural and comfortable ANYWHERE. If you're uncomfortable in the studio getting a headshot, god help you when you're on a movie set, surrounded by huge huge crew of people operating cameras, lights and sound equipment. Nevertheless, some folks remain a little nervous............that's okay! Tell me if you're nervous and I will offer you a few exercises to relax before we move forward with your session. You'll be amazed.
So, back to backgrounds............are they really that important??? if you are of a certain character type and your headshot is a professionally done reproduction that includes your name and resume, In most cases, 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 at the location you think would work best for you.
Headshot Trends - Good or not so good?
If you like to follow trends in headshot styles and formats, go for it. However, in the long run, you may find that it is counterproductive depending on the trend. Trends and styles come and go in every facet of our lifestyle and actor headshots are no different. Truth be told, having an up to date, well composed, well lit, sharply focused natural looking headshot that shows the casting director WHO you are and your CHARACTER TYPE...............that's all you will ever need.
Let's face it though, actors want almost every role they audition for. SO..........in an attempt to "get the attention of the casting director", actors (and their photographers) will often try all sorts of things; some work, others do not. Actor Headshots are often photographed from extremely odd angles; others have excessively unbalanced lighting (too dark on one side etc) and some are over-cropped or too close up; some others may have depth of field that is far too shallow.
These "techniques" can be very useful to an extent, but you and your photographer must be careful not to overdo it or that's exactly what it will look like; overdone. In the case of formatting, some Actors are now choosing the "landscape" or horizontal format for their headshot; they like the "negative space" concept and believe it "leads" the viewer's attention to their face, which is usually at the far right end of the image. Good trend or not so good? Well, don't upload that image to a site that displays images in portrait format or you may end up with only half your face in the shot.....or less! If your headshot is already over-cropped and your agent's website presents images as a "square", the image will end up being cropped even more. How will that affect your headshot? Borders or no borders? This is another trend that comes and goes. Once upon a time, a full bleed headshot with no border was considered "amateurish". still it's one more thing that comes and goes.
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 a few reproductions done.
Your headshot may 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 prepared and 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. Thanks to the internet, Many casting directors are no longer asking for headshots at the INITIAL AUDITION..........but bring one anyway. The day you don't bring one, will be the day they ask for one.
IMPORTANT NOTE! Just because they didn't ask for a headshot at your initial audition, doesn't mean you don't have to bring one if you get a CALLBACK! Casting usually requires talent to bring two headshots to a callback 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.
Again, your headshot should always have your current resume stapled to the back of each at all four corners. OH.........and make sure your staple ends are not sticking up. You really don't want the casting director suffering a puncture wound from YOUR headshot. It happens, and they don't like it!
While we do not provide mass quantity or 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 couple for you. Otherwise, if you plan on getting headshot prints as you need them for auditions and your agent, we offer a special, "price-match" discount on small quantity, high-quality 8x10 prints for actors with a minimum order of ten. Be sure to ask.
What if the agent doesn't like my headshot?
It happens. In some cases, the headshot you're using may not follow industry guidelines or the details we discussed regarding character type, age range etc. Maybe it just doesn't look like the real you. In other cases, the agent may see you differently than you see yourself; maybe the agent just insists on a smile as opposed to a serious look. Perhaps the agent has an associate who works as a photographer and wants him or her to shoot your headshot. (Watch out for that) It could be any of these reasons..
In ANY case, it's usually not a good idea to argue with your agent or your prospective agent.........they are after all, the gatekeeper when it comes to being seen and getting auditions. They WANT you to work because every time you work, they make a nice commission on whatever you get paid. Fact of the matter is, the agent wants you to qualify for as many auditions as possible...and a smile is pretty much a prerequisite for most commercial work. IF HOWEVER,your headshot meets industry guidelines, if it truly represents the "real you", REFLECTS YOUR CHARACTER TYPE, if it's an all around great image and if it gives you a certain measure of confidence in yourself; IF it meets all these guidelines, you MAY have to very, very politely tell the agent that you would prefer to move forward with the headshot you have in hand. Don't be afraid to give a valid reason.........perhaps you rarely smile........Perhaps you look like the Grim Reaper when you do smile..........I do and I hate smiling for photos unless I'm being silly so I understand and sympathize.
okay, but the agent insists on a headshot with a smile; even though YOU believe a headshot with a smile in YOUR case would look unnatural or worse yet, a grim-reaper-grimace. Perhaps another headshot is not in your budget at present. Again, whatever your reason, it should be valid! if you handle this kind of situation politely and honestly, you should not have a problem. In the final analysis, if you are unable to communicate honestly and freely with your agent in the beginning, you may want to consider what the future may bring.......after you've signed a contract. Think about that.
Why do I need to spend extra money on a hundred 8x10 reproductions anyway; can't I just print them on my own printer using regular copy paper?
You get professional reproductions Because it's the professional thing to do. It is an investment for professionals. It is the cost of doing business. Getting high quality 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 use every opportunity to 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....just in case, even if the last few times the agent said they didn't need them. Oh....and NEVER have your resume printed on the back of your headshot. It should be updated regularly and printed on plain 8x10 paper and stapled to the back of your headshot at all four corners.
OH......and make sure your staple ends don't stick up!!!!! You don't want the casting director to get a puncture wound while looking at YOUR headshot. It happens and it gets them upset......trust me.
Think about this for a moment...............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 OR be able to change your read to whatever the director asks you to do. This will often happen at call backs. Sometimes the director wants to see how well you take direction.
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? How about my Pomeranian Puppy?
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. NO PETS OF ANY KIND! Believe it or not, it has happened, so please leave pets at home.
NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVISE FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BECOME AN ACTOR..............Learn as much as you can about the industry and your craft. It will help you along the way. Practice memorization and auditioning techniques. You will achieve better results with every audition you go to.
Our session fee always includes 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 one 8x10 master PRINT for your duplication printer to use as an exposure guideline; all for only $175 in studio and $225 on location. We may be the only Actor's Headshot Photographer in the city that still offers a master PRINT included with your session fee!
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 touch-ups, cropping and border formatting. Again, our session fee is all inclusive. Choice of studio or location, weather permitting.
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 $700 and commercials at over $500 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, natural features, like red hair, green eyes or blue eyes that should stand out as part of your marketing strategy demand color headshots. Unless your talent agent told you to go with B&W for some reason, you may want to stick with color.
WANT TO LEARN MORE? READ ON.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR PHOTO SESSION
Please review the following recommendations for actors, models and other clients before booking your session. It is well worth the ten minutes it will take you to read. IT WILL HELP YOU BE PREPARED.
DON'T OVERTHINK IT......it's just a few suggestions.
YOUR SESSION AND YOU
Arrive at your session on time and well rested. If your mind is on something else that you have to do the same day, or physically tired from not getting enough sleep the night before, your session results will reflect that. As a model or an actor, you should take care of yourself and always look vibrant! Naturally, I like to provide clients with as much time as I feel necessary, so they get the best headshot or modeling session possible. (up to an hour and a half for an actors headshot session and 4-5 hours modeling - corporate headshots are usually about 30 minutes) However, please don't waste your shoot time by being late for your session or even worse, being unprepared.
BE ON TIME...if you're more than twenty minutes late, you may have to reschedule your session depending on my workload for that day.
BE PREPARED...Models should brush up on posing technique in the days leading up to a shoot with wardrobe in excellent condition.
If you're going on a commercial shoot, the client will usually provide wardrobe for you; otherwise, if the session is for your portfolio and you're using your own wardrobe, all of your wardrobe items should be wrinkle-free, organized and ready to go! Actors should know how they want to market themselves in terms of character range and wardrobe. Being late or unprepared is unprofessional and will not be tolerated on paying jobs you will be hired for. Some agents will actually fine talent for showing up late on a shoot.
WHAT SHOULD I DO FOR THE CAMERA?
Most clients know what they need before booking an appointment with us. Nevertheless, if your session is for an ACTOR'S HEADSHOT, you should try different facial expressions that are natural for you during your headshot session. If you prefer a more dramatic expression, don't feel that you are obligated to smile; you don't have to.
Serious expressions work extremely well with many people, both men and women. Even if you're not fond of smiling though, we still recommend you include a few poses with smiles so that you have a nice variety to choose from. If your headshot is for commercial acting purposes and expect to be doing mostly commercial work, remember, smiles sell. If you do less commercial work and more theatrical, a somewhat dramatic or serious expression may be more appropriate for your headshot depending on your character range. Whatever you choose to do, if you are an ACTOR, you should be relaxed and BE YOURSELF.
Actor or not, I can't stress that enough. Your headshot should have a natural, genuine, spontaneous look and will work much better for you as a marketing tool if it does. If this is your first experience with a headshot session, you must understand, this is NOT the time to "act" or wear costumes, period pieces or hats; it is a time to be YOU. Your expression must be genuine above all. A really great headshot is as much about your personality as it is about how you look.
STRIKE A POSE?
Models should always be prepared to execute a full range of posing techniques that compliment wardrobe and body type! Your body is your instrument, much like a clarinet may be the instrument of a musician. Just like a musician has to know how every key of an instrument works, you must know what your own body is capable of beyond a "hands on the hips pose". Practice in front of a mirror until you know what a good pose "feels" like since you will not have a mirror when you work. Modeling portfolios will include full lengths, half lengths as well as head and shoulder shots and you shouldn't necessarily look at the camera all the time. While we are happy to guide you and direct you to some extent, we are photographers....not modeling instructors. It is your responsibility to do what is expected of you in your chosen career and that is of course, to model. The true art of modeling is all about looking like you're not posing....even though you are. The modeling portfolio is all about selling YOURSELF as a real person and an attractive person more so than selling what you are wearing. If you're in doubt, pick up a few fashion oriented magazines like Vogue, Elle or W and look at the poses used in the ads. Look at what some of the pros there are doing and try to understand why they're doing it based on the product they're selling. The image chosen for the ad was only one out of possibly hundreds. It was selected for the ad because it accomplished the goal of making the product look good. How? Why? Look closely at the models. Look at their expressions and pose....the models and how they posed for the camera played a big part in making the ad a good one or they wouldn't be there. Otherwise, we may just as well use mannequins for magazine ads.
WHAT ABOUT WARDROBE IF I AM A MODEL?
MODELS should always prepare and coordinate wardrobe in advance of the session. Being prepared will give you more confidence when stepping in front of the camera and save time. Dressed up or dressed down, male or female, wear what works best for your body type! Full modeling portfolios should include five complete wardrobe ensembles, each one distinctly different from the other. Examples can be any of the following; up-to-date casual, urban wear, cocktail dress, long sleeves and short sleeves, sports wear, swim wear, lingerie, business wear etc...or whatever compliments your body type the best! Most models like dressing up in real life and already have a lot of wardrobe pieces to choose from. The absolute best five images from your shoot (one from each wardrobe category) will be used for your comp card. Try to use solid colors but nothing loud, no pastels, bright white or all black. There are always exceptions but warm, earth tones are a good place to start. Obviously, if your outfit is something worn by a biker, then a black leather jacket may be appropriate. Be sure what you wear fits you well but not too tight and have a good mix of color combinations and styles from one wardrobe ensemble to the next. IN ALL CASES, models, actors or personal portraits...PLEASE have your wardrobe in order and good condition. We are not responsible for YOUR wardrobe. You must be sure your outfit is the way you want it for the shoot. We do not re-shoot due to wardrobe issues. This includes issues with tags, stains, buttons etc. Thank you.
MY FRIEND SHOT PICS OF ME AT THE BEACH - CAN I USE THEM IN MY MODELING PORTFOLIO?
Chances are, the answer to that is NO. Unless your friend is a professional photographer with a professional camera and knows how to use available light to his or her advantage, your images may only look amateur at best. Most friends and most consumer level point and shoot cameras with automatic settings are not capable of producing images that are of a high enough quality to be used in a professional modeling portfolio. Professional portfolio books contain prints as large as 9x12 or 11x14 and the images need to be high quality, properly lit, sharply focused images of you and what you're wearing. The same applies to your Comp Card....they need to be high quality images that practically pop off the page. Editorial and lifestyle photography may feature a number of interesting locations as part of any modeling shoot, you can bet it's not going to be your back yard. In the advertising industry, there's usually a good reason for everything.........that means every little detail you see in an advertisement.
YOUR COMMERCIAL MODELING PORTFOLIO
Your portfolio book will include lots of waist-up and some full length shots, so try to use up-to-date outfits that flatter your body type, skin tone, hair color and your range of character. Models should avoid cheap looking, trendy outfits that will become outdated very quickly; also avoid loud colors, bright floral prints, patterns and so forth in their portfolio. The whole purpose of the commercial portfolio is to sell YOU and your ability to look like an attractive, real person. The clothes are actually secondary. Your personality sells the clothes, not the reverse. If you intend to have part of your shoot processed as B&W and are in doubt about what shade of gray your wardrobe colors will convert to, refer to the color and grayscale wheels to the left for a general idea. Remember, exceptional B&W shots are all about strong variation in contrast and texture. This is what makes B&W "pop" off the page. If your wardrobe, skin type, hair color and environment produce too many of the same shades of gray, it will result in a flat and unattractive B&W image. It is actually better to plan for B&W to insure proper contrast combinations with wardrobe pieces and locations. If you have any questions about wardrobe, please don't hesitate to ask your agent for recommendations prior to your shoot.
WHAT ABOUT WARDROBE IF I AM AN ACTOR?
For ACTOR'S HEADSHOTS, YOU SHOULD AVOID shirts with stripes, plaids, paisley, polka dots, tie dye, brand logos, loud colors, bright white and wild patterns of any kind; they are distracting and will take attention away from your face. Industry recommendations for headshots and even auditions tend to be darker, warm earth tones or muted solid colors. These always tend to work better in headshots. While it may vary from client to client, we tend to recommend long sleeves instead of short sleeves for an actor's headshot. Since most headshots are tightly cropped, a small section of arm or a shoulder strap in one corner of your headshot as well as tan lines can be distracting and unappealing. Shirts with texture are a good thing; ribbed or knitted sweaters for example. If you're not sure, just ask us or your agent.
HOW IMPORTANT IS MAKE UP?
No matter who you are, you will want to look your best regarding clean, clear skin. Some may be able to achieve that without the use of makeup; the guys are usually able to get by without it if they don't have oily skin or perspire a lot. When it comes to the ladies however, even minimal make-up can be a very important part of your headshot session, modeling portfolio or portrait. Some actors and models may have character features, freckles for example, that they do not want to hide and prefer a more natural look as part of their marketing strategy. However, if you have an oily complexion or tend to perspire easily, you may want to consider wearing something light to reduce the possibility of flash highlights on your forehead, nose and cheeks. The key is to keep it natural looking. If you wear makeup, always bring it with you to the shoot in case you need to "freshen-up" during the session. Actors may want to stay within the range of makeup you would normally wear to an audition. Remember, when you are selected from a stack of headshots and called in for an audition, the casting director expects to see the same person. In most cases, the casting director already has you in mind for a specific character. They usually don't have time to "rethink" what other role you may be good for if you don't look like your headshot. Your headshot should be an accurate reflection of who you are. If your portrait is for personal use, you can wear as much or as little makeup as you like. If you're doing a high end fashion or glamour portfolio, have fun and be as creative as you want. Oh, and don't forget to check your nails; whatever you choose to use, it should match with all of your wardrobe selections. When in doubt, keeping it close to natural is usually best. At the very least, you should avoid overdoing your makeup.....overdone makeup usually doesn't look very appealing.
If you do wear makeup, having a good, well-balanced, natural toned foundation and powder will help smooth out any skin imperfections. It should be evenly blended from the face to include the neck; this will prevent any variations in skin color or tone between the face, neck and chest area. If you wear an off the shoulders, low cut blouse or top, watch out for those tan lines; under lights, they may be more visible than you think! With all close-up portraits, (like headshots) both men and women may want to check for any unwanted facial hair a day or so prior to the session. In most cases, you should wear what you would normally wear when going to an audition or on any given day.
CAN I DO MY OWN MAKE UP?
Absolutely....especially if you know what looks best on you! A few tips....clients doing their own makeup should avoid moisturizer type products or other make up products that will be reflective under lights. Make up with tiny flecks of glitter is a no-no...it ends up looking like white dots under the lights. If in doubt, be sure to bring your powder just in case. If you're a model and developing a complete, commercial portfolio of shots for a new composite or comp card, you may want to consider the services of a professional makeup artist and hair stylist. If you communicate with them, they will understand your goals.....and will not only make you look your best, you'll feel great too. Be sure the MUA understands what you want to avoid disappointment. Depending on the look or image style you want to project, it can make a big difference. Having a professional makeup artist for your shoot is worth it. *Remember, your portfolio is an ongoing investment in your career and usually requires updates on an annual basis.
WHAT ABOUT HAIR?
Different hairstyles can make a tremendous difference in your appearance. All clients are advised to do what looks best on them. If you are an actor, your hairstyle should be similar to what you would wear to an audition on a regular basis. You don't want your headshot to be a complete departure from how you look in real life. On the other hand, models have different guidelines to consider. Most models know that sometimes the smallest change can project an entirely different look or mood. If you want to try different looks based on your wardrobe selections and what you're trying to achieve with your comp card, be sure to bring a hairbrush and styling sprays/gels with you to the shoot. *
YOUR GENERAL APPEARANCE
You may want to avoid drinking alcohol and cut back on salt intake for a few days before your session; it will make a difference in your overall appearance. Both alcohol and salt will make your face puffy. Drinking too much alcohol the day before will also zap your energy level and make you perspire a lot. Speaking of perspiration, avoid doing anything strenuous immediately before you arrive at your session that will make you continue to perspire into your session. Perspiration on the skin is very reflective and can diminish an otherwise perfect shot. We try to keep the studio area as cool as possible but it's always a good idea to bring your make up with you just in case you do begin to perspire.
SHOULD I WEAR FANCY JEWELRY IN MY HEADSHOT?
If you are sitting for a personal portrait, where what you like. If you're an actor, you may want to avoid jewelry altogether in your headshot. If you choose to wear any jewelry at all, keep it simple. If your session is for MODELING and specifically for the jewelry, accessories and apparel section of your portfolio, it's up to you. You should use your own judgement or ask your agent if in doubt; everyone has an opinion on this. Either way, you don't want to spend money on building your portfolio only to have your agent say the photos don't fit their criteria for portfolio images. With headshots however, there are also exceptions. Some actor's for example, may have multiple piercings in the ears, nose, lip or eyebrow which they consider part of the look they want to market. For that person, jewelry is an important element. Otherwise, the attention should be on your face in an actor's headshot, not your jewelry! Also, as you strike poses and move during your session, so will your jewelry; large dangling earrings may get twisted into an odd angle just as some necklaces may work themselves into an irregular or awkward position. In addition, long, dangling earrings will cast a shadow on your neck depending on the angle of the shot and light. Again, it is recommended that all the attention and focus is on your face, so avoid wearing distracting jewelry that may also cause unwanted shadows.
I'M JUST STARTING OUT, WHAT IF I'VE NEVER ACTED OR MODELED BEFORE?
The fact is, you don't have to be beautiful or extremely experienced to work in films and for television. Casting people in New Orleans are often looking for the unique, character oriented types as well as extras for many roles. Nevertheless, like any other profession, we suggest you learn everything you can about your chosen profession before jumping in head first with only the hope of being successful on looks alone. While formal training has many positive benefits, you should continue your education by doing independent research and reading as much as you can about the business. Just because the idea of being an actor or model appeals to you, that doesn't mean you're going to be an overnight success. Like any other profession, it requires a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. Knowledge will always help you to be more professional no matter what career path you choose in life; modeling and acting are no exception. If you're still reading all of this information, you're off to a good start and are most likely very serious about your goals! You would be surprised at how many "aspiring" actors and models don't even get thisfar! Congratulations! In many ways, acting and modeling require more tenacity and perseverance than many other professions. Are YOU prepared with the knowledge you need in order to do an outstanding job AND compete with others who want the same job? Do you have the required tools? (The actor's primary marketing tool is the Headshot and the model's is the Comp Card.) Do you know the difference? The answers to these questions and many more are directly related to how successful you choose to be. Knowledge and experience will always win out over luck. They say "luck is all about being prepared when opportunity presents itself". Prepare yourself for opportunity and success.
WILL YOU FIND WORK FOR ME?
The answer to that question is NO. That's not my job. There may be photographers out there who will "promise" you work or offer to provide you with representation, we do not. We are professional photographers. If you want representation, you should sign with a reputable talent agent. Talent agents will be the ones to get the majority of calls for auditions of all kinds. We do however, try to help models and actors to achieve their goals by using our expertise as photographers, thereby providing them with the tools and materials necessary to find work through an agent. However, we do not provide representation of any kind nor do we guarantee you will find work as an actor or model. We provide you with the necessary tools to pursue your career, you provide the commitment.
CAN I BRING FRIENDS OR RELATIVES TO MY PHOTO SESSION?
Models, actors and all other clients who are under the age of 18 are REQUIRED to have a parent or legal guardian available to sign paperwork and attend the session.
In all other cases, it is definitely NOT recommended; it is guaranteed to interfere with the level of focus you have on your session and also considered somewhat unprofessional. Remember, the full modeling session, including make up, will last up to five hours for five wardrobe ensembles. Headshot sessions may last over an hour. Friends, relatives and children can be a major distraction and make you self-conscious; even if they're in the next room! Your session results may reflect that; especially if your friend begins to direct the shoot from behind the camera or make you feel like you're twelve years old again. If your friend comes with you to make sure you are in a professional environment, we certainly understand; but please ask them to go out for lunch or a cup of coffee until you're done. We are professional photographers and you have nothing to be concerned with regarding your safety. If your companion stays throughout your shoot to help you with wardrobe changes or apply your makeup, that's different....but please ask them not to otherwise interfere with or endeavor to direct the actual shoot and tell you to act like a tiger or some other foolishness. Remember, your friend and family will not be allowed to accompany you to a professional production of any kind and hang out on the set unless you are a minor or if your companion is also working on the shoot. Otherwise, it's not going to happen. The same guideline applies to pets. We do not allow you to you to bring pets of any kind to your session.....yes, that has actually happened.
WHAT IF I HAVE TO CANCEL MY SESSION?
If you have to cancel your session for any reason, you will lose your paid deposit. It means we lost a scheduled production day which was reserved for YOU. Your deposit may be applied to a rescheduled date if you are seriously ill but a rescheduling fee will charged.
*Make up artists and hair stylists will be provided by request only.
One week notice is required; additional fee of $125-$200 will apply for basic beauty make up.
Our full modeling portfolio session fee includes one look; basic beauty make up.
Most professional make up artists and hair stylists charge from $125 to $250 for beauty and specialty makeup. Depending on your needs, makeup will take up to an hour or more to apply; avant garde make up and body painting may take as much as two hours or more and will incur a higher fee depending on the artist's rates.
Hair design usually incurs a separate fee.
If we hire you for a concept shoot, your make up will be provided.
Our full modeling portfolio package includes basic beauty make up only;
specialty make up or additional looks will incur an additional fee.
Wayne Ferrara and Elaine de Araujo Ferrara
Photography by Wayne Ferrara
Elaine de Araujo Ferrara
All content is under copyright ©2018 by Photographer Wayne Ferrara and Ferrara Araujo Productions LLC. Unauthorized copy of any material on this website is in violation of copyright law.