What actor doesn’t dream of at least one headshot that will open all the right doors for them in the industry? Who doesn’t want that? Therefore, I often meet actors who time after time spend good money on a new portfolio, and aren’t necessarily pleased with the results. They’re willing to keep getting photographed in order for their agent to have a good headshot to represent them with.
So what is the secret to a winning headshot? How can you know that you have done all that you can in order to get the most out of yourself, the photographer and all the other people on set (hair and makeup artists, wardrobe assistants etc.)?
First of all, you need to research photographers to find the one for you. Look at their previous work. Make sure they are professional headshot photographers, not just ones that do it as a hobby. Don’t choose event photographers that tell you they have a problem shooting headshots, as more often than not you will be disappointed by the end results and end up re-doing them somewhere else. Look at their use of light in their photos. Shots that are too artistic won’t do what you need them to do. You need to choose a photographer who’s portraits are well lit, not by too contrasting a light with shadows in the background. Make sure their editing doesn’t look over done, check their website and social media pages and anywhere else you can see their work and check if that is what you would want for yourself. After you have found one or two photographers that you like, call them and feel their energy, see if there is any chemistry between you, if you want to spend a few hours with them at a shoot. If you do, that is the photographer for you. Don’t compromise because of the price.
Secondly, you are the star, and you need to look like one, especially on the day of your photoshoot. So what do you do? If you haven’t added a personal stylist and you need to bring with you your own clothes, make sure, in advance, that you have a quite a few options. Skip your favorite old clothes and go for newer clothes for a look like you have just come out of production. From experience they always photograph better. (In fact, if you can afford to, go out for a fun shopping day and splurge on something special for your shoot.). Together with the photographer you will soon be able to see if any of the clothes are also suitable for future auditions. If you have gotten yourself a stylist, someone else that will do good work for you, then you are very lucky and all you have to do is arrive refreshed to the shoot. Important tip – get a good night’s sleep the night before your shoot, try not to go out until late, even if your shoot is in the afternoon. Don’t change your routine the day before or the morning itself. From experience, last minute changes aren’t beneficial for most people.
Thirdly, when you’ve arrived to the studio, please please don’t start instructing the hair and makeup artists as to what suits you and how you look when you go to parties. The aim is to look as natural as possible, whilst still looking your best. The more “made-up” you look, the more you’ll cut the range of roles you’ll get to a specific typecast. Casting directors like seeing “raw material”, seeing how you can be turned into anything. Don’t make their work harder, for after all, you want them to invite you to many auditions. More than that, you want to look as similar as you can to how you will look like when you turn up to those auditions, for if your picture portrays you as a Hollywood star, the CD will be very disappointed the moment you enter the room. If you feel like a star, show that on set!
Finally, you need to have fun, to be in the moment, to be real and to convey good energy to the rest of the people on set and for you. That is the recipe for a successful photoshoot that will yield great headshots and that will open the biggest, fanciest and heaviest doors that you’ve ever dreamed of in the industry.
Also, don’t forget to smile!
Have a great shoot!
Keren Ben Ami