8 Tips for a Dynamite Head Shot

by adriafi1 on March 10, 2011

Adria FirestoneDo you realize that your headshot is like the logo of a business? You already know corporations spend from thousands to millions of dollars on a logo, right? So, given the importance of a headshot – were you thinking of snapping a selfie? Don’t.

What makes a good headshot different from a beautiful picture? You may have a gorgeous picture that everybody ooos and ahhhhs over when they see it, but it doesn’t really show who you are.

1. A good headshot needs to reveal your personality, not the set, not your clothes, not the fabulous lighting – but YOU!
When a casting director is looking at hundreds of photos, yes, hundreds, they are looking for someone to fit into a role they have in mind. Your job is to give them an accurate representation of WHO you are, not just how you look. You are the ‘product’ in the shot. In contrast, think of how the clothes are the product in a fashion shoot, not the model wearing them. Let the shot show your character, your quirks and your true features.

2. Like a logo, your headshot needs to be easy to see on the web in small format or in programs or any of the hundreds of places your headshot, will show up.
In other words, if you’re wearing extremely fussy clothing with lots of pattern, or your hair only allows me to see one of your eyes, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

3. Don’t get sold on a glamour shot, unless your type is The Glamour Puss.
There is a wonderful photographer who makes his singers and actors look so glamorous, they don’t look anything like themselves. Again, you are spending money on something that needs to serve you well. A headshot should be you on your best day – a slightly better version of yourself, but still be 100% recognizable as you.

4. You will use your headshot everywhere – make it good.
People will get to recognize you. That’s what we are after in this business; to be uniquely recognizable.

5. Your headshot needs to show you as the type of roles you go after. This is a biggie!
In other words, if you are the leading man type, don’t take a character shot. If you are the girl Friday type or the gal everyone depends on, don’t take a glamorous leading lady shot. WHO you are influences and define the roles you audition for. Even though we actors/singers would love to think we’re appropriate for every role – you know darn well we’re not. Only the major stars are asked to stretch into unlikely roles, not always successfully. For example, do you think Julia Roberts could do Glenn Close’s roles well or vice versa? Obviously not. Agents and casting directors love actors and singers who tailor their marketing materials to their strengths. It makes their job easier and you set yourself up for success.

6. Prepare yourself well for the photo session. Give yourself your best shot.
Your best cosmetic is rest. Don’t drink alcohol the week before a photo shoot. Don’t eat what you are allergic to. Have an attitude of fun about the photo shoot – it’s not a visit to the dentist. Your personality and who you are — I can’t stress this enough – must jump off that page. That is the person a casting director is going to want to meet.

7. Get your hair and makeup done professionally.
Yes, it costs money, but having professionally applied makeup can take a photo from good to great. Having make-up applied makes you feel pampered and camera ready too. Remember, a headshot is an investment in you. It’s your international calling card – it’s your logo. Be aware that something may look wonderful in person, but it doesn’t look good on camera – your makeup and hair person is trained catch that.

8. Choose your photos wisely. Don’t get carried away with retouching, allow reality to shine through.
Remember, the cardinal rule is for a casting director to be able to see you – the real you. Most of all, it needs to allow the viewer to see the unique spark that makes you who you are.

I dare you to stop posing and – BE! Flash – ooooo yes, just like that.

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