Getting the most out of your headshot

Great quote about the primary goals for any actor’s headshot:

Your goal with your headshot is to:

Provide agents with what they need to help you get work. A good head shot can get you a good agent who can help you get into more auditions and increase your chance of being cast in roles you are seeking.

Provide casting directors with your details so that they can determine whether or not you are suitable for a role. After an audition the director will likely have taken notes and put that with your headshot to help trigger memories of your audition so they can decide whether or not to do a call back.

Keep your headshot updated so your agent and casting directors can match you with roles that fit your current look.
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Agent’s Eye: Headshot advice

Great video content from Virtual Channel Network from Robin Harrington of Lemon Lime Talent Agency. Advice for actors on headshots, waiting room etiquette, booking out & more!

Right at the start of this video Robin answers the question “what makes a great commercial headshot?” The quick answer is “a clear, clean and colorful tight shot.”

Check out the whole video here http://www.virtualchannelnetwork.com/channels/rep_central/ep135.cfm

Questions to ask your headshot photographer

When searching for a headshot photographer, it’s important to chat with a prospective photographer and get specifics about the service they provide – how long a session lasts, what to wear, etc. This “interview” can be a simple phone call or email.

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But what are the important questions to ask?

Check out the Actingbiz.com website for this great set of tips for actors: 11 sets of Questions to ask your Headshot Photographer BEFORE the Shoot!

I would add these questions as well:

“How long have you been in business?”
“What styles of clothing should I bring?”

Also, be sure to ask questions at the shoot if you have any confusion about packages or any part of the photoshoot process.

Answers to all these questions will help you find the right photographer and prepare for your headshot session.

Get your headshot right

Here is a great article on getting great headshots for your business by Dedham, MA portrait photographer Gretje Ferguson.

A good headshot is a business essential. It gives you a leg up when it comes to publicity, a professional web presence, or a potential speaking contract. A strong business portrait personalizes your business. People see who you are and are more likely to want to work with you.
In contrast, an unflattering, badly posed or technically inferior headshot can work against you. The subconscious questions that may come up are: Does this person take herself seriously? Is she a consummate professional? Will she give my account the attention it deserves?

Your headshot is part of your brand. Be sure it is sending a message compatible with your professionalism.

Solid advice.

New Year, New Studio, New Looks

While I still don’t have a hover-car or even a jet-pack, 2010 is off to a great start. I moved into a new studio in December and after a month or so of dealing with moving and unpacking, things are finally starting to get organized.

The new space is working out great for headshot sessions – allowing for a little more experimentation. I wanted to share a few new actor headshots this week to show-off the looks I’m getting at the new studio.

actor headshot - aisa
actor headshot - aisa
actor headshot - morgan

actor headshot - morgan
actor headshot - ali
actor headshot - sara

I’ll follow-up next week with a few fresh new business looks I’ll be trying out for corporate executives and social media folks.

Top 5 Headshot Tips

Here’s a quick list of tips to make your headshot photo session a success.

  1. Get Some Rest
    Getting a good nights sleep before your headshot session will help keep your eyes looking bright and can help avoid dark circles under your eyes.
  2. Keep clothing simple
    Avoid busy patterns in shirts/ties/blouses. You don’t want your clothing to distract from your face.
  3. Bring clothing options
    Always bring an extra outfit or two to your session. Different necklines can affect the shape of your face, so having a few different choices (shirt with a collar, crew neck, v-neck, scoop neck, etc.) can be very helpful.
  4. Share your intentions
    Let your photographer know what kind of look you want. Bring examples or reference images from the photographers portfolio.
  5. Actors – think about “characters” you might portray
    Are you the good guy/girl, the popular guy/girl, the bad guy/girl,
    the professional guy/girl? Where is this character from? What is his/her disposition? What is his/her financial background (blue collar/white collar/middle)? These questions will help you decide what kind of wardrobe to bring.

Check out my headshot tips page for more helpful information.

Gravatar anyone?

What the heck is a Gravatar and why do I need one?

According to gravatar.com it’s a “globally recognized avatar.” A way to be recognized across multiple websites when you post on blogs and forums.
It’s a free service and your gravatar automatically shows up on enabled websites when you post messages – based on your email address.

Why use this service? Simple – so you can be easily recognized. Human beings are wired to recognize and remember faces, so people will typically remember your avatar/face before they remember your name.

Using the same avatar everywhere is crucial for personal branding consistency, so a service like Gravatar makes a lot of sense.

Here’s my Gravatar:

Amber

Here’s a great headshot from last week.

I photographed Amber’s first acting headshots about a year and a half ago and she has since grown out her hair and signed with Agence Talent. She stopped in to update her headshots with a few new looks.

Actors – remember to keep your headshots current with your appearance. If you significantly change your hair or overall look, get new pictures made so casting directors will recognize and remember you.

Amber G.

Guys in ties (or not)

For a lot of photographers shooting PR headshot photos is often referred to as shooting “Guys in ties”. Its all just part of the business uniform.

So what should you wear for a business portrait?

Generally speaking try to avoid complex patterns and stick with (mostly) solid colors. Pinstripes are ok, but houndstooth will look “busy”. Horizontal lines should be avoided. Try not to be too trendy as your headshot will probably be used for a few years. Think about timeless or classic looks.

What to wear – Men

For men, a dark suit jacket (black, grey or navy), white or light colored shirt and a basic tie is standard. For ties, crazy patterns or colors can be distracting so a simple pattern or bright color is best. Tie color can also help accent your eyes. A blue/green tie will bring out the blue/green in your eyes.

For a more casual look, some clients opt for a shirt and tie without a jacket. In these cases, I tell my clients to avoid a plain white shirt or a white shirt with stripes. Your eyes naturally go to the brightest part of a picture so a white shirt draws attention away from the face. In this case a blue or pastel colored shirt often works great.

A jacket over a crew neck shirt or a simple golf shirt can also work depending on the client’s type of business.

What to wear – Women

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Women have lots of options, but a classic business suit or simple blouse with a skirt or pants will get the job done nicely. Try not to choose something that’s obviously a summer/winter outfit or anything that’s too trendy.

The key thing to look at for a woman’s outfit is the neckline. A “V” neckline will have a slimming effect (elongating the face). On the other hand a scoop neck or crew neck blouse will typically make a face look wider. Avoid turtlenecks at all costs (they crowd the face and can make your face look chubby).

Look your best

The most important advice I can offer is to wear something that makes you look good and something you feel comfortable wearing. Feeling good about your clothing will help you look confident and professional in your pictures.

If you can’t decide what looks best, bring a couple of outfits to the shoot. Your photographer will usually be able to tell you which outfit will work best for the shoot.