By Nick Gregan
As a busy actors headshot photographer in London I’m often asked for my advice on ‘what is the right actors headshot for me?’ This can be a delicate subject as often actors see themselves in a particular way. A classic one is seeing themselves as younger than they actually look, especially women around the late twenty’s early thirty’s still believing they can play much younger roles.
I mentioned briefly in an earlier article helping the photographer can pay huge dividends in the final outcome of the actors headshot shoot. Having gone to the effort of choosing the right photographer, preparing for and choosing what to wear at the shoot, getting your make-up and your hair to look right if that’s what you chose. Making sure you’ve thought about and done some research on the type of headshot that’ll work best for you and your market – not simply what you’d like to look like. Once this process is done it’s time to think about how you can make sure that you’re choosing the right shot for you.
Remember it’s critical that you pick the right headshot.
As I alluded to in an earlier tip, most actors headshots need to show the actors as versatile so as to open themselves up for as many roles possible. This means that your headshot should be open, friendly and above all else it must look like you. Remember we want the Casting Directors to be able ‘paint a character on you’ rather than see you in only one very narrow role. That is of course unless you have a particular ‘look’ that you’re only ever likely to be cast for.
If your dreams of the perfect role are in the musical theatre then often a great smiling headshot showing bags of life and personality is the one for you. On the other hand if you’re more of a ‘serious’ actor aiming at classical roles then something with a slightly more serious look, showing loads of emotional depth in the eyes would likely be more suitable for you.
In the past when the only option was to enter a single actors headshot into Spotlight or send out your individual 10×8′s you had to choose a shot that would cover all possible roles. However with the advent of the digital age and numerous casting websites you can now use a range of headshots showing your versatility. Spotlight is the oldest and best known among casting directories although there are others such as CastingCall and Castnet where you can now add several pictures to your listing on their website.
Making that all-important choice is critical to your exposure and who makes that choice ultimately has to be you, as you have to be happy and confident with the headshot you put out. Having said that, get a second opinion if you can. Ask your photographer what he thinks as in a lot of cases they’ll have years and years of experience with what works and what doesn’t. The other good thing about asking your headshot photographer is that they’ll give you a straight and unbiased opinion. You could always seek advice from other actors and friends, but remember that this is your career and you must try to get objective opinions from someone inside the business.
Asking your mum or dad or even your boyfriend or girlfriend can lead to drastic mistakes as often they see you in a particular way. Are you still ‘daddy’s little pumpkin’ or are you now a serious performer, and does your mum think that ‘you look cute like you did when you were a child’ in a shot and suggest you use that one? It’s usually the same with your partner simply because, as they have an emotional attachment they’ll also often see you in a particular light too.
Remember you’re trying to appeal to Agents and Casting Directors not the folks at home. It’s your main marketing tool and you’re using it to get you work.