Updated: May 11
Money is tight. Headshots are important, an investment, your marketing material. Yet for some reason I see so many actors be unprepared when it comes to choosing photographers and attending their shoot. Here are a few thoughts from me on making every penny count.
What do you need? A question I ask in the training room and rehearsal room a lot but it’s also relevant here. I do mean literally - are these your first headshots or are they top ups? What kind of images do you need? What story do you need to tell? But I also mean what do you need to make you feel good, to get the best out of the session? I believe as an actor, knowing what you need is your best tool.
Choose carefully Take your time and research properly, it's an important decision. Find actors you know and look at their headshots. Are those images a true representation of them? Is there a good range? Are they over edited or do they feel real? If so, see who the photographer is. Just because someone gives you a recommendation, doesn’t mean you should just book them. Everyone is different.
Trust your gut A good headshot photographer will make you feel comfortable, and this should be reflected in their communication with you beforehand. If your gut is questioning your choice, listen to it.
Before you go Don’t get carried away in the beauty salon. Of course if you want to do the usual, do it but remember these pictures need to be a true reflection of you. So going and getting a mega fake tan, inch long eyelash extensions and/or your nose pierced the morning of the shoot to make you feel more confident may not be the best plan. Same with clothes - if you're not used to wearing those shapewear knickers or that woolly jumper, now might not be the time to rush out and buy them - think carefully about what items you choose - you want to exist in front of the camera with as much ease as possible.
Be ready What can you do with clothes, makeup and hair to give yourself as many basic options as possible? Of course you can’t do all options but what small changes can you make to encourage a casting directors imagination? Make sure you think about this before you go so you’re fully prepared. Beard/no beard. Slick back hair/free down hair. Glasses/no glasses. Hoodie/shirt. Be clever. Even the material of your clothes plays a part, soft clothes soften you, sharp clothes (like a stiff collar) harden you.
Enjoy yourself I don’t actually know many actors who like getting in front of a camera so check in with yourself - what small things can you do to allow yourself to be open and to make it an enjoyable experience? Is it that you need to arrive early to grab a herbal tea? Smells can have a profound effect on our senses and state of mind, use it to your advantage with a spray of your favourite perfume or a few drops of lavender. Might music help, on your way there and/or during the shoot? Even though shoes won’t get seen in the picture, they can have a huge difference on how we feel so why not take a couple of options? Work with the photographer, don’t rely on them to do everything, they don’t know you like you do.
Be honest If I trust anything it’s that honesty reads better than bullshit. Once you get there if you’re feeling nervous, don’t hide it. Let it be a part of the moment. If you’re shooting different ‘looks’ don’t fake it, feel it - use preparation techniques you’ve tried and tested during your training or work.
Most importantly, you are who you are, you have what you have These pictures are a marketing tool for you. You are enough, just as you are: your colouring, size, shape, lines, curls, markings are all you. Celebrate it all. Be kind to yourself. Maybe it’s the bits you’re less fond of that’ll get you the role so let them be seen.
Both Feet Actor Training - Top tips for headshots