Actor Headshots – Five Winning Secrets For Good Headshots

Are you ready to shoot your actor headshots? If you’ve already picked a headshot photographer and have your wardrobe, hair and makeup all figured out, here are five tips to help you get the most out of your headshot photo session.

  • Shoot one universal headshot. When you have your actor headshots taken, choosing a few different “looks” that suggest character types (white collar, girl next door, etc.) is a good thing. But you won’t be able to have a look that’s perfect for every role that you want to audition for, so you should also have what I call a “universal headshot” – a straight on, no nonsense, what you see is what you get headshot that tells exactly who you are. It shouldn’t be a dramatic or smiling shot. If you get a good “universal headshot”, you will find yourself using it more and more and it will establish your face in the casting director’s mind (who keeps seeing one same photo over and over). That type of headshot will get you work because it’s full of possibilities. How do you get the right look? It’s all in the eyes, which takes us to this next headshot tip…
  • Tell a story. Often, actors preparing for a headshot photography shoot will spend a lot of time thinking about their wardrobe and make-up but will neglect the most important thing – their acting. Unfortunately, being relaxed and open in front of a camera doesn’t come naturally, even to actors. Good headshot photographers help the process, but you’ll get much better headshots if you’re prepared to “tell a story” with your eyes. The night before the shoot, think of what you want to get across in your actor headshots, then write down a one-liner for every different intention. Keep it simple. Just think of how you would convey who you are or what you want in the least amount of words possible (for example, “I really want to get to know you”) and then tell that sentence with your eyes.
  • Do a headshot mix. Line up some songs on your iPod the night before your headshot session. Pick different music for different looks you have planned. Don’t worry about picking out cool songs. You’re not getting modeling pictures. Pick music that you respond to. Close your eyes and notice how each song makes you feel, then decide if this is the right “mood” for the headshots you want. If it is, include it in your mix and loop it if you need to. Most headshot photographers are happy to work with actors’ music at the photo shoot since it helps them relax and get in character for their different “looks”.
  • Stay away from coffee and cigarettes. I got this tip from a headshot photographer: to avoid bags under the eyes, stop drinking coffee two weeks before the photo shoot. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, you may get headaches when you hold off on the java, but it will help you have a nice skin tone and overall fresh look you won’t have to Photoshop for hours. Another thing that improves complexion is to stop smoking of course.
  • Skip the retouching. A lot of actor pictures look “retouched” to the trained eye of a casting director or agent. If you need to brush off a little speck on your shirt, that’s fine, of course, but avoid going through your headshot session thinking, “I can retouch that later”. Your goal should be to get the perfect shot you don’t need to do anything to. One way to do that is to take regular breaks during your photo session to review your headshots. Most headshot photographers have digital cameras, so reviewing your pictures as you go is easy. Some photographers can even show you a large image of your headshots on a TV screen hooked to their camera. Make sure you love the shots before you go on. Check your general look and posture, but also watch out for little details like flyaway hairs or shiny skin.

Hope these headshot tips help you have a successful photo shoot.

3 Ways to Remake Stale Headshots Without Reshooting

You know your headshots are your number one calling card for developing your resume and it’s likely that you are often in search of the perfect one.

Considering how expensive it can be, most actors can’t get new headshots every time they would like to, so what can you do?

You can give your Headshots a Make-Over! Yes, using the ones you have – if they’re not too-too old.

To start with, be sure to work with one of the best professional headshot photographers you can afford and you won’t have to worry about a Headshot Make-Over. However, let’s say that for whatever reason, you’re not ready to do a whole new shoot, or you’re saving your money to work with a top headshot photographer like Bradford Rogne.

If that’s the case, then you might want to do something to freshen-up your current photos instead. To help you with that, this article gives you 3 ways to improving your acting headshots without re-shooting.

If you’re seriously considering doing something about your unsuccessful headshots, this article could save you several hundred dollars and the frustration of having to get new photos… yet again.

Here are 3 ways to freshen-up your photos:

1. Change the color of the background.

It’s amazing what a difference it can make if you change the color of the background to a neutral color. It helps keep the focus more on your face. However, the reverse may be the solution for you. If you have a neutral background, you may fare better with a colored background. We all have certain colors that bring out our skin tones better. Play around with the background color and decide what option catches your eye and makes you stand out in the headshot.

2. Change your shirt color to a more complementary color to your skin.

This suggestion is obviously similar to the first suggestion. If you are wearing a shirt or blouse that is too textured, too patterned, too bright, or too dark, this is an issue you can improve to get a better headshot. A photo lab (like Reproductions, Ray’s Photo Lab, etc.) can pretty easily change the color of it by editing with something like Photoshop. Or maybe you or a friend have photo-editing software and can do it without spending any money. However, if you don’t have the skills then leave it up to a professional because you don’t want make the pictures worst with unprofessional editing.

If all your headshots were taken in the same outfit, freshen up your group of headshots by changing the shirt color of one of them. Maybe, you’re using different headshots as your commercial shot, dramatic shot, bad guy/gal, comedic guy/gal, or sexy guy/gal – all individual characters. A simple color change to the shirt can help differentiate those photos and bring new life to those individual characters.

3. If the background is too busy, with too much going on then get rid of it.

I hate to say it, but some otherwise really good headshot photographers get so focused on the “artsy-ness” of their photos, they forget that YOU are the subject they are selling, not their headshot skills.

Because they do that, sometimes the photographers do funky things with the background, such as making it blurred, and it is more distracting than helpful. While they may argue that it puts the attention on you by blurring the background or making it super busy, I think not. I can almost guarantee your face looked great without the funky background.

If you have a photo like that, you could change it to a neutral background color. Fixing the busy background will blow you away. Okay there you go!

As previously mentioned, you or a friend may have the skills to perform what’s suggested, in which case, you will spend hardly any money. And if you use a professional photo editor (from a photo lab, etc.) you’re still only likely to spend the cost of an hour of labor. That is far less than paying for a new headshot session and everything (makeup, etc.) that goes along with it.

Should Your Headshot Photographer Care About The Outcome Of Your Shoot?

Well they should because it’s your career they’re messing with!

I received this nice comment today from a lady who I photographed yesterday. It’s a fairly common testimonial apart from the last few words – “you cared about the outcome too, so thanks” Thanks for yesterday, you made taking headshots easy and enjoyable! It felt like you cared about the outcome too, so thanks.

Wow! that made me think about my position as a headshot photographer and the results I deliver.

I didn’t think I altered my approach to this client from any other client, I try to treat everybody the same – and I do care about the results of my headshot session.

However it made me think. I’m sure there are actors headshots photographers out there with huge ego’s, who are very busy or maybe don’t need to worry the flow of clients as they think themselves to be ‘great headshot photographers’ and the clients will come anyway. Possibly there are photographers out there who don’t know any different. Admittedly not that many but they are increasing in numbers all of the time due in large part to the availability of fantastic modern cameras that do all of the technical stuff for you. Often this “new era” of photographers don’t have the complete range of skills needed to be a good headshot photographer – they simply point and press leaving the camera to do all of the work.

The crux of the matter is this, do we as headshot photographers care about what happens to our clients once they leave the studio? Should we care whether the headshots we give them actually do anything for their careers, whether or not our headshots help them get work, hep them get past the initial selection process to the audition stage. I think we should.

Headshots and Auditioning

Admittedly once they get to the audition it’s up to them to show their acting skills and ultimately weather they get the part is up to their auditioning skills, but for many clients they won’t even get close to that stage without a great headshot to get them past the keen eye of a Casting Director.

Out of sheer professional duty we should care, but more importantly morally we should care weather or not we gave the client the right headshot, the right advice and weather it’s working for them as an actors headshot. I’d hate the thought of one of my clients being constantly told that “their headshot was rubbish” or ” it’s not showing you very well” or ” it’s just not you”.

It’s a tough business this acting game and everybody expects to take some knocks, but we can cope with those providing there are some ups to go with the downs. However if an actor has a poor headshot – and they don’t know it – because they’ve paid a lot of money to a ‘professional headshot photographer’ – they’ll soon get fed up with the rejections and think it’s themselves who are at fault. When it’s not it’s the fact that they have a poor headshot and may well have been given poor advice. The ego’s of many in this business can be fragile at the best of times lets not add to the difficulties actors face by being sloppy in our attitudes.

I think a large part of my business ethos is to give people a great headshot coupled with expert advice that I have learned over the 20 years of working in this field, after all many of the clients we shoot are young, or new to this business and like all businesses we should work hard at giving our customers a superior service – if only for the purely selfish reasons of customer loyalties and good testimonials.

I’m sure that if I didn’t care bout my work, about the clients needs I am photographing or getting the very best headshot for that person word would soon spread, and we all know bad news travels fast.

And finally remember – it’s your career they’re messing with!