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!

Who Decides What the Style of an Actor’s Headshot Should Be?

What I mean by this question is ‘the general style’ of the headshot. Should the headshot be simply a head and shoulders, should it be cropped tightly, can we crop-off the top of the head, should we pull out to include more of the torso like headshots in the USA, should it have strong shadows so we can only see half of the face, should it be heavily retouched to give almost unrealistic skin tones as some photographers like?

As an actors headshot photographer in London I have to comply with the requests of my clients – the actors, I also have to understand the what the market wants – the agents, casting directors etc. and I also have to fulfill my own creativity within these boundaries.

Am I right to discourage a UK actor from wanting an American style headshot? Sometimes my clients arrive with ideas from websites or magazines and want a headshot similar to them because they like the feel of the shot and want to look like the actor in this shot. Equally so, some actors have seen shots that are badly cropped-in very close so that the face fills the frame and like this style. There has also been a growing trend to ‘crop-off’ the top of the head in recent times – I often wonder why?

I think my main duty is to my client and to give them what they want in a headshot. However saying this I photograph many actors who are new to the business and have very little knowledge of how the industry works, – I consider it incredibly important to advise these clients and offer my knowledge and experience on what is suitable, what works best for them and ultimately what is going to get them noticed by the right people. On a slightly different note; it amazes me how poorly prepared most actors are when graduating from schools, colleges and universities in this side of the business. They may well have good stage skills or be well versed in different acting methods but are often under prepared in the business side of acting.

Duty Or Creativity?

I consider it my duty or part of my service because I believe it’s an essential part of my job and also partly for purely business reasons. I can’t deny I want repeat bookings and hope my clients will recommend me to their friends and colleagues but I also believe passing on my knowledge in a good way is beneficial to my clients understanding of how the industry works.

Another option is to go wild with creative abandon but to what end? Is it to satisfy my own ego or to try and blaze a new style in headshots? I think this is the wrong attitude to have. If I have a need to be more creative than I am with headshots then I should shoot in a different style, perhaps fashion headshots or editorial style shots. This is not to say that – and this is important – shooting actors headshots is not creative or that it does not satisfy the creativity of headshot photographers – this is not what I’m saying at all.

There are plenty of general photographers who dabble in headshots as a way of making more money without fully understanding the niche, or the possible negative effects that a poor headshot can have on an actors career. My creative buzz comes from the absolute pleasure in getting a great headshot for an actor that I know is going to help them in their career. Especially those actors who are uncomfortable sitting in front of the stills camera. Drawing out of an actor something from deep within them to make their headshot sparkle, to give it the wow factor. For without the wow factor it’s just another headshot in the crowd.