Your acting headshot is an essential tool for getting work as an actor, but you should also think of it as an investment. You can’t just ask a friend to take a photo of you sitting on your couch and expect a good response. You will need to hire an experienced Hollywood photographer like Bradford Rogne or someone of that caliber who knows how take headshot photos.
Considering how cheap digital photos are, photographers these days typically take hundreds of photos in one sitting. Out of that, you will need to choose the best one, two or three. However, the one you like the most might not be the one that attracts talent agents.
How do you choose the right headshot? Use these three questions to help.
1. Is the photo technically perfect?
Believe it or not, your favorite photo might not be technically correct. You might have moved without thinking about it, the lighting is off, or a hair is distractingly out of place. These are things the photographer should catch, but they may not. Make sure the headshot you are considering is technically flawless.
Areas to play extra close attention to are:
- Look for the photo to be in focus, especially on your face.
- Is it free of white, shiny, hot spots from the lighting, like on your forehead or your nose?
- Are there any stray hairs or lint somewhere that will draw the talent agent’s eyes from your face to the mistake?
Any time you answer “yes” to these questions, you have to reject the photo or get it touched up in Photoshop or at the lab. Talent agents receive dozens of headshots a day and are looking for reasons to throw them out. Don’t let poor technical quality be the reason yours is “filed” in the trash.
2. Does the headshot make you castable by entertainment industry professionals while also representing you at your best?
The headshot must make it clear how to cast you. Talent agents need to be able to sell you for specific kinds of roles, so your headshot needs to reflect that type. For example, if you are looking to be cast as a villain or antagonist, don’t pick a photo of you smiling. No one photo can be all sides of an actor, but if you think about what roles you want to get, that will make it easier to choose.
If you aren’t sure about your casting, you may consider an actor’s branding strategy session with Smart Girls. You’ll discuss your casting and how the photos reflect that – or even what type of photos you should get.
Ultimately, your headshot has to look like you and capture your essence in the eyes of professionals. Your photographer should help you during the photo shoot to get your best look.
Don’t be afraid to ask their opinion on which option expresses you best, as they often have a good sense of what casting and talent agents are looking for.
3. Do you feel like it represents “you?”
Since you will be sending out hundreds of these photos, and they will be the first contact for many of the talent agents who receive it, you need to feel good about the headshot.
Don’t choose one that you have concerns about, such as how you just hate your hair fixed that way, or you think it’s a bad angle on your nose. This photo represents you and your talent! It should have your good thoughts toward it, too.
You need to feel as confident about the headshot as you do about your acting ability. Choose a photo that makes you proud when you send out your cover letter mailing to talent agents and managers or post on Actors Access.
You want the real inner “you” to come through so that it sets you apart in some unexplainable way. Yes the photo must do the job in what it looks like, but that eternal quality that represents the “you” beyond what we see must also come through.
If you don’t like a photo, there’s a good chance it’s not the right one. Pick one that you like that industry professionals also like.
If you take these three questions into account and can answer them in the positive way, you are well on your way to choosing a great headshot for you!
For more information like this, you may want to grab a copy of my ebook “Hollywood Headshot Handbook: An Actor’s Guide To Getting the Best Headshots Of Your Life,” which offers major tips on truly getting the best headshots you’ve ever taken. In this Introductory Offer period, it’s only $17 and you can digitally download it immediately after ordering.
Meanwhile, we wish you the best at getting great photos!