Headshot Do’s and Dont’s: From an agent’s point of view

This week, I want to lay out a relatively easy road map that an actor can follow to put him or herself in position to walk into a photo studio with the right expectations and take a great set of photos for their headshot.  I’ve gathered a lot of great information from the talent agents I’ve had the opportunity to work with so here is a “Do’s and Don’ts list that should get you headed in the right direction.

Do’s

Consult with your agent before and after the photo shoot.  Your agent has a LOT of experience working with actors and they know what works for a headshot and what doesn’t.  Trends change and they stay on top of those changes.  They know what casting directors look for and they only want to help you produce that look.  Afterwards they’ll work with you on picking the most effective look.

Have your headshot taken by a professional photographer.  Photographers that specialize in headshots for actors often communicate with talent agents and know what the agents are looking for and have the technical know-how to get there.  They know what lighting is required, what lens is needed, how much depth-of-field is adequate, and how to make sure that the best version of you is what is photographed

Have you hair and make-up done professionally.  In some cases, your photographer will have communicated with the hair/make-up artist to coordinate on what look is trying to be attained.

Meet with your photographer face-to-face before the shoot if possible.  This is a part of the relationship building process.  The stronger the relationship you can build with your photographer, the more that relationship will shine through in your photos.  If you meet your photographer for the first time when it’s time to shoot the pictures, the photographer will have a shorter amount of time to build that connection.  They’ll still be able to create great photo’s but they will have to work harder to build the relationship.

Don’ts

Be afraid to communicate with your photographer during the shoot about ideas you have.  While the photographer has a lot of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, if you have an idea that he/she didn’t think of and that idea can set you apart from the other actors, go for it!

Be cheap with hair and make-up.  Effort in this area shows in camera more than you realize.  A professional hair/make-up artist knows this and they know how to make you look amazing in front of the camera in such a way that doesn’t actually take the attention away from you.  That is a skill that is harder than most people realize.

Wear clothing that distracts from your face.  If you wear an article of clothing that is super bright or has a pattern on it that will draw attention away from your eyes, you just shot yourself in the foot.  That applies to jewelry as well.

Wait too long to have your headshots updated.  If you make a change to your look, you need new headshots.  If you lose/gain any noticeable amount of weight, you need new headshots.  If you are going to look different in person than the way you look in your headshots, you need new headshots.  The investment is worth it.

Be uptight.  Your headshots are about to be your business card so relax, know that you got this, and knock ‘em out of the park!!!

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