Whether you’re just starting out as an actor or if you’re a seasoned veteran headshot are essential! Actors need to know what casting directors are looking for when they’re scrolling through headshots. The problem is that many people think they can cut corners. This article goes into depth about what are the do’s and don’t of acting headshots.
Actors also need to be able to choose good photographers, manage their professional image and keep their photos up-to-date. The number one complaint of many casting professionals is that they often bring in actors that look nothing like their headshots!
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Before we begin
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Tip #1: It has to look like you
This seems so obvious but it is a mistake that many actors make. Nothing is more frustrating to a casting director than when they compare an actor to their headshot and there’s no similarity.
You have to remember that often an actor’s headshot is all that a casting director has to go on. Most casting is done online using casting platforms like Spotlight, Mandy or The Stage Cast so they’re looking at images online. If they can’t trust those images then their job becomes much more difficult.
My recommendation is that every actor gets an objective opinion about whether their headshot looks like them. They need to take headshots, print them off and show them to friends and family. They then need to ask whether these photos are an accurate representation of them. That’s the only way to get some decent feedback.
Tip #2: It’s not a modeling headshot
When a casting director is looking at acting headshots they’re not looking for models. remember that they have to scroll through hundreds of poorly executed headshots. A lot of them are overly exposed and have far too many hours poured into photoshop touch-ups. They don’t want to see a generic/vanilla headshot.
The purpose of an actor’s headshot is not to make you look stunningly beautiful. Often I see actors headshots that have no character to them because they’re afraid of showing their flaws.
Tip #3: Look your age
This was a mistake that I made when I got my first set of proper headshots. I was extremely proud of the fact that I could grow a beard (I was around 20 years old) so all my headshots had a lovely large beard front and center. This was a mistake because it made me look a lot older than I actually was.
For other people, when they cut their hair short is can sometimes make them look younger. To those people, I say that it’s very important that you leave some time between a haircut and a photoshop session.
Tip #4: Get high-quality headshots
This is usually a mistake that younger actors make. The reason being that high-quality headshots cost decent money. Then again, a lot of actors don’t have much money anyway so this is a mistake that all age ranges make.
There is no more obvious sign of an amateur than poor-quality headshots. Industry insiders will be able to spot it a mile away so avoid this mistake!
Beware those photographers that try to lure you in on price. If they’ve got a sale on and are offering headshots at “£95 for a limited time.” Then avoid them. The reason I say that is because a quality headshot photographer knows their worth and their time is valuable to them.
Tip #5: Keep them up to date
Life has a way of taking us down many paths. One year you might be into a death metal band named “lamb of the underworld” the next you’ll listen to Katie Perry.
This sometimes reflects itself in the way we present ourselves. I’m sure that there are some middle-aged actors who had a punk phase in their early twenties. There are also many rocking musicians who may have had an office job earlier in their life.
The point is that you have to keep the way that you present yourself in alignment with your current “vibe.”
The main thing to remember about headshots is to avoid these mistakes. If you choose a reputable photographer, they charge a decent amount, you don’t do anything too whacky the week before and you present yourself truthfully then you’ll be better than 95% of other applicants. Remember, headshot sessions are difficult to master and often it takes a few rounds for actors to get the hang of it.