As I do quite a lot of Acting Portfolios I thought to give you a few tips and tricks on what do do and look out for.
Here some examples of Sophie, an up and coming actress I photographed last week.
Her shots are simple, natural and showcase her range of different looks.
The headshot. It’s the single most important marketing tool for an actor, and it’s amazing how many people do it wrong just to cut a few corners. Actors, it’s time to take it more seriously. When that little headshot jpeg pops up on a casting director’s computer, you want them to say, “Yes, bring that person in!” Not “Yikes, that guy kinda scares me.”
Your headshot is your calling card. It will be sent out and emailed to tons of casting directors and agents, who see hundreds of these every day, on their desk and on their computer. If your headshot is bad, you look bad. You want to be seen as a pro, not an amateur, so the way you present yourself in your picture is everything. If you want people to take you seriously, you must have a good, high quality, killer headshot. Not an iPhone pic, not a Facebook photo of you outside with the wind gently blowing your hair..
So here some tips as to what you need to keep in mind when it comes to your Acting headshots:
1. Go pro. Spend the money. It’s worth it. Go to a professional, who is trained, understands lighting, and takes headshots for a living, not some friend who happens to have a decent camera who “sorta knows a little about photography.” Save those pictures for Instagram, and leave the headshots to the pros. If the headshots look cheap, they probably are. And you look like you don’t care about your career.
2. Go for personality over glamour. Make sure it looks like you. Chill with the airbrushing. Casting directors expect you to look just like your headshot, and will not be happy when you show up looking totally different, or 10 years older. It’s not about looking pretty, it’s about representing your type, age wrinkles included. It should look like you on your best day, showing your age, and who you are now.It’s not about the type you want to be, it’s the type you are.
3. It’s all about the eyes. Just like with on-camera acting, it’s all about the eyes, and what’s happening behind them. It’s your closeup, your moment. Your eyes should be perfectly in focus, alive, and energized, and not dead and glazed over. There should be strong inner thoughts, implying a backstory and a life behind the eyes. A slight squint, and strong piercing eyes will bring a picture to life and help it stand out in a pile of hundreds. A good headshot photographer knows how to bring this out in you.
4. Pay attention to framing, lighting, and background. In general, a good headshot is chest up with good lighting on your face, and no strong dramatic shadows, unless you are going in for “The Phantom of the Opera.” Three-quarter shots are good for print, and extreme closeups are good for, well, nothing. Look directly into camera, and the focus should be on the center of your eyes, not your left ear, or your shirt collar. Be sure the background is blurred, which means it’s shot with a good, high quality camera with a high-depth of field, which makes you stand out. It’s about you, not the environment.
5. Natural light vs. studio. Some photographers do both, as they offer a different look and feel. Natural light gives a very real, “film” look, which I prefer. Studio lighting tends to be a little more polished, with a more neutral backdrop. Both can be wonderful.
6. Clothing and props. I once saw a headshot of a guy with a bird on his head. Why? Because he wanted to stand out. Let’s not get crazy here. Keep it simple and classy, and follow the standard format. Professionalism gets you noticed, not desperation. A simple, solid color shirt with a little texture that fits you well and matches your eyes should do the trick. No graphics or anything you think might distract from your face. And no props. (You know that, right?) If you think you are going to play cop roles, you don’t need to wear the outfit in the headshot. It’s a bit much, and very limiting.
7. Don’t go crazy with the makeup. Yes, lots can be done with retouching. There is no need to put on tons of makeup. We offer professional Make-up services to make you look like yourself on your best day, and not look like you tried too hard. Girls, be yourself, do your hair the way you would for every audition. Guys, bring some oil sheets to take down the shine, and maybe use a lightly tinted moisturiser to take out the redness and even your skin tone.