Not sure if you should have a professional headshot taken? Type your name into Google…
If you want an acting gig, you need a casting agent. If you want a casting agent, you need headshots. If you want headshots that are going to show your true personality as well as your acting range, you need to see a professional headshot photographer.
Why have actor headshots?
One of the acting industry’s most important marketing materials is the professional headshot. It’s no good having the face of a character actor if the casting director can’t see the details because the photo is blurred or pixelated. A professional headshot photographer can supply you with a range of high resolution photos that express your comfort and confidence in front of the camera. Even if you have a limited resume, if it’s attached to a professional headshot you have a better chance of an audition than an actor with a strong list of credits attached to an amateur snapshot!
What type of acting headshots are available?
I realize that you probably have in mind the ‘feel’ of the image you want for your actor headshots, and I’m ready to work with you to achieve it. For those who aim towards television sitcom work, I suggest a studio image using a neutral backdrop. Otherwise, natural light offers the look of an image that has been shot outdoors on film, which is often appealing to actors. We can do both of course!
What about a headshot for a specific role?
Great lighting and an appropriate background constitutes the key technical elements to getting a good headshot, but sometimes a role has a specific look; I will work with you to develop the right poses, angles, and expressions to capture the look of the acting part you are after.
Every actor appreciates a good director, and with some coaching from me you will be guided into the best pose, shown how to position your head for a stronger jawline, and advised where to put your hands so you feel comfortable and relaxed. Do you already know your best side? If so, we’ll use this straight away, and if not we’ll take a few test shots to work it out. Using the eyes to your best advantage is another trick of the trade that I will help you with. To engage with the viewer, I’ll show you how the slightest of squints can enliven the eyes and add an energized expression to your face. It’ll suggest an enigmatic backstory that the casting director won’t be able to resist.
What should you wear?
Keep it simple. A shirt of a solid color that matches your eyes and works for your skin tone is best. Avoid wild, patterned tops and garish graphics as they can be distracting and often set your photo to a particular era. Shirts and tops in cream, beige, and yellow blend your face into your clothes, so avoid those tones too. White can be problematic as it reflects too much of the light from the flash units and can wash out lighter skin tones. Try blue, green, or burgundy hues because they are universally flattering. Leave the silly prop at home — that’s just going to take attention away from your face. And keep jewelry and accessories simple. When it’s time to change into different outfits we have a dressing room on-site, and the studio is accessible to people of all abilities.
What about makeup?
The key to a successful acting headshot is that it should represent the real you. This is not for a modelling portfolio, this headshot is to represent your natural look. Use minimal makeup and bring blotting papers to reduce shine on your skin from the studio lights. If you need help with your makeup I can provide the services of hair and/or makeup artists. With only a week’s notice I can arrange to have specialists in my studio for a hair and makeup session before we begin your headshot photography. If you prefer to do your own makeup and/or hair before the shoot, my studio has a makeup mirror with lights. My camera is connected to a monitor so that you can view some test images on the computer screen straight after they’ve been taken. You can use this to check how your makeup looks under studio lighting and you can make adjustments as we go along. After the shoot, all final images will be lightly retouched to ensure you receive photos that are polished, but still natural. Studio lights can sometimes pick up imperfections that are not noticed under normal lighting conditions, so skin blemishes, teeth stains, and eye redness will be toned down through skilled editing. This service is included in the standard packages.
Why get a new headshot?
Having an up-to-date headshot is the basic rule that applies to every actor. Your headshot must look exactly like the person you see in the mirror every day. Casting directors choose an actor for an audition based on their look in the photo. If you turn up looking ten years older than your headshot because it was heavily retouched to remove the wrinkles, you’ll be shown the door before you’ve had a chance to prove yourself. Even if you change your hair-style, or grow a beard, get a new set of headshots! Your actor headshots must exhibit your current look.
How long will the session take?
A typical actor headshot session takes 20 to 35 minutes. But I’ll keep taking photos until you are satisfied that we have captured the most authentic look for your headshot portfolio.
How quickly will the images be ready?
I can deliver the final edits of your images within 2 or 3 working days. You will receive a print release form with all images, so you can use them whenever you want, and in whatever way you desire! All images will be high resolution (ready to print) and they will comply with IMBD and casting agency standards.
Don’t supply an amateur headshot to a casting agent/director or you’ll be stuck in amateur theatre productions for the rest of your life. Turn pro with a killer headshot that’ll make the casting director flip your photo to the top of the pile while reaching for the phone. A quality headshot is the calling card of a serious actor who is taking their profession seriously. Shoot me a call me and arrange a time for a professional headshot so that you can push forward with your acting career.
Daniel Turbert is a philanthropist, president of a non-profit, and published photographer who runs a commercial photography studio in Chapel Hill, NC for headshots and fine art portraits