In Montana, "headshot" means something very different,
but to an actor, a headshot is EVERYTHING. It's a business card, it's a marketing tool, it's a (potential) key to opening the door to that audition for Marvel's "Avengers 5". A great headshot will go a long way. So it's worth it to invest in yourself and ensure your headshot is true to you and technically excellent.
See that smiling, bearded mug up in the title image of this post? That's me. As I've said before, I have a degree in Acting/Performance, so a good portion of my senior year of college was spent researching and interviewing St. Louis' best headshot photographers. Not just any professional photographer can take great headshots. It takes true skill to be able to capture someone's personality and character in a singular image of their face. In the end, I used the immeasurably talented Lance Tilford, of Limelight Studios, to help me capture an awesome and marketable headshot. That very headshot opened the door for me to perform in 7 countries, got me into films, and even allowed me to be a part of a best-selling video game (Far Cry 5)!
Now, of course training and talent are huge in the entertainment industry, but a fantastic headshot is what gets you in front of the right people, enabling you to show them how great you'd be for that dream role and giving you the chance to make your dreams a reality.
So, to make sure your headshot session is rockin', take a look at these 3 tips:
Meet Cora; a fabulously talented actor and singer, based in Wisconsin. She came to her headshot session so prepared and it went flawlessly. Cora brought several different wardrobe options, because she wasn't sure which would be best and wanted to make the most of her session. We shot in a couple different outfits, each giving a slightly different feel to her shots, but this outfit ended up being the winner.
The reason for that is because this outfit makes Cora look casual, yet professional. When looking at this headshot, you feel like you want to talk to her over coffee and learn more about her. Her clothing doesn't distract from her at all. The focus is still entirely on her face and that beautiful smile.
During your headshot session, you want to be like Cora! Bring multiple wardrobe options, but stay away from loud colors (neons and anything really bright) and obnoxious patterns and don't wear anything graphic or branded; your headshot is about YOU and your brand, not Nike, Adidas, or your CrossFit gym of choice . Ladies, make sure your...uh, 'ladies' are covered enough for your comfort (professionalism, not desperation, is what sells) and make sure everything fits comfortably and isn't too baggy or too tight.
This striking gentleman is Jeroen. He came to me with some audition opportunities on the horizon which were a little more dramatic in nature. So in addition to bringing multiple wardrobe options, we also opted to do some shots in my studio, with studio lighting.
Now this tip is a little more subjective. There is no one right way to take a dramatic or serious-looking headshot, nor is there one, best way to take a happy-perky-commercial headshot. But taking into account your shoot location can and will impact how your headshots look and feel.
Studio shots place all the emphasis on you and your look. I personally tend to associate studio headshots with a dramatic and theatrical feeling. While outdoor headshots (again, to me) tend to air on the commercial, happy smiley side because you can use colorful or busy backgrounds to add flavor.
There's no right or wrong in your choice between in-studio or outdoor headshots (and I always try to do both with my headshot clients!), so the tip here is to do some introspective searching about what you want your headshot to showcase. Are you a dark and moody, Jon Snow-type...or are you more Liz Lemon?
It's All in the Eyes
What's the first thing you noticed about this headshot? I think it's safe to say it was Ryan's eyes. Those beautiful baby blues just suck you in and make you think, "I want to see that handsome face again!" And that's exactly what you want anybody who lays eyes on your headshot to think! You want them to remember you, your look, and to want to see you again.
Now, it's not just the fact that Ryan's eyes are blue, either. There's LIFE in his eyes. You can tell what kind of person he is through his eyes. You get the same feelings from both Jeroen and Cora's headshots, too. They are have something going on behind their eyes. A great headshot photographer helps bring out your inner thoughts at the moment of your photo, giving your headshot a backstory and making it so much more than just a photograph of your face.
Going along with having something behind your eyes, you really want your eyes and face to look physically healthy, as well. Yes, touching up, airbrushing, and Photoshop are all tools photographers use to enhance images, but a good headshot shouldn't need much more than basic color correction and toning tweaks. Your headshot needs to look like you on your best day, not a beauty queen version of yourself. Casting directors, agencies, and anyone who wants to call you in for a job expects to see the person in the headshot, so don't go to your headshot session in a look you can't recreate easily and quickly. Basic things like getting enough sleep the night before your shoot, using chapstick, and drinking enough water all make a headshot session a breeze!
There are a ton of other important qualities of a headshot.
However, following the three tips above will get you a quality look quickly and efficiently. Especially if you have a photographer you get along with. Humor and an easy going attitude make any photoshoot feel less like work and more like hanging with a good friend.
For friends in Los Angeles, I recommend taking a look at Joanna DeGeneres (yes, she's related) for your headshots. I've had friends shoot with her and have heard great things! If you're in the NYC area, I can't recommend enough shooting with veteran Broadway production photographer and friend of A2 Pix, MurphyMade Photography when you're in need of a new actor calling card!
Of course, I'd love to work with you too! Click here to reach out and I'll be in touch ASAP!