101 Strategies for Actors)
Your headshot is your calling card and
all-important entrée to the business. The composition, the lighting, and
the overall professionalism the shot reflects can make the difference in
your being called in or not. Because of its obvious importance, you
might be tempted to shoot for an exaggerated, glitzy effect, neglecting
the highest priority of all: you must look like the person in the photo
when you walk through the door at casting
means the style and length of your hair should be the same. For men,
this means facial hair as well. Take serious note: this issue is one of
the biggest continuing complaints of casting directors. They call you in
for an interview based precisely on your appearance. It’s your look that
matches their idea of the character.
But if you come into the office looking much different than the
photograph, you have wasted their time.
A basic rule of thumb for photos is to
avoid the drastically lit and blatantly shadowy headshot. Such murky
effects invariably end up being more of a distortion than an accurate reflection
of how you truly appear.
So choose a photographer actually
recommended by casting directors or agents—one who won’t be prone to
such extreme practices. If, after you get your
eight-by-ten done, you
decide to cut your hair or substantially change the style, make another
appointment right away to get new shots done.
When it comes to touching up photos, be
very cautions. If the touch-up work is for some minute detail (such as
digitizing out some odd, flyaway hair or compensating for a weird
shadow), then you can certainly get away with it. However, far too many
actors mistakenly allow computer artists a heavy hand if it makes their
headshot more glamorous looking. They allow the artist to remove
under-eye bags, scars, blotches, and far too many facial lines. The
trouble with a lot of touch-up work is that it looks exactly like that:
a lot of touch-up work—especially when you’re sanding in the audition
room. When industry professionals see the comparison, believe me,
they’re not happy.
Women, when you pose for your
headshots, make sure you do not rest the top of your hand directly
underneath your chin. Nothing looks more affected and entirely
amateurish than that. The actress in your photo should look like a
person of confidence and professionalism, not a blushing bride. Your
best choice is to keep your hands off your face, period. Don’t let a
photographer tell you otherwise.
When finally choosing your photo, don’t
let your non-industry friends or your mother help you decide. They’re
not involved in the entertainment field, so they tend to pick the
glittery, pretentious ones. These kinds of pictures may stroke your ego
or dazzle your family, but they’ll rarely impress the people who really
Best bet: let your agent decide. Your agent knows you and
knows the marketplace. Consequently, he or she will pick the type of
headshot that stands a better chance of selling you.