Headshots

by Andrew Hadzopoulos

They’ve been around for ages, and they’ll be needed as long as the entertainment industry exists. Hardcopies, digital prints, regardless – headshots, as you already know, are your calling card. Your first impression. Your representation. These are important reasons for actors to make sure they have the best headshots possible, regardless of budget.

The easiest, yet probably the most expensive, would be to seek out the most popular photographer who specializes in headshots. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to spend a premium just because the photographer has clients you recognize from TV and film. You can spend that type of money when you begin to work as regularly as famous people. The city is filled with photographers, so finding one won’t be the challenge. Choosing the one you feel most comfortable with, and in your optimum price range might require a little more detailed search.

For those who don’t live near LA and don’t have pages of listings to choose from, there are certainly ways to make them yourself. And while homemade headshots may not look exactly like the professional ones, they should adhere to basic rules and standards as to not stick out for all the wrong reasons.

The standard size for headshots measure 8 x 10 inches. No bigger, no smaller. It’s simple to follow, because the size never varies – and yet so many people still send casting offices various pictures of different sizes. Don’t. Your 4×4 shots from last year’s vacation won’t cut it. Stick to the size.

A picture of that size is pretty big, and that brings us to number two: Clarity. Blowing up your image to the 8 x 10 size shouldn’t distort or pixelate your picture. Use a camera with a high megapixel count. You’d need to buy an expensive DSLR to get this. Most point and shoot cameras and even the high end smartphones all take pretty decent images with remarkable clarity. Obviously, you want that face of yours in sharp focus.

Now that we can see you clearly, think about your wardrobe. Keep it simple. Crazy colors, or cluttered logos all over the place detract focus from your face. The color of the clothing doesn’t matter, but be aware of your background- you don’t want to stand against a white wall wearing a white shirt, or a brick wall wearing a red shirt. You want to pop. Not to blend. (And while we’re talking about it, nothing is more boring than stranding in front of a white wall. Choose a background that’s interesting.) For guys and girls, the type of clothing you pick should also be relatively simple. Nothing too fancy or provocative. And easy on the make-up. Less is more in these types of photos.

You’ve got the wardrobe and the perfect setting, now comes the posing. Keeping it natural and not too exaggerated will translate into the best image. Stay away from the model type positions that look both uncomfortable and unnatural. The point is to have the person who is looking not be distracted by surrounding factors. It’s also a good idea to include just one image – several little images showing you in different costumes looks amateur, and I don’t believe that a single casting director has ever paused while looking at these images and decided to bring the actor in just because they looked like a police officer in a police officer’s uniform.

All in all, color headshots should be clean and simple. Remember that these are being sent out for consideration for numerous roles, and the best image will be one that doesn’t automatically identify you as one type or the other. And please, have someone else take the picture. These aren’t social media pictures. Take a little time and effort, and you won’t be disappointed – and neither will the people who have to review them.

 

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