Who Is That Co-Starring In My Headshot?
Headshot photographers are popping up all over the place these days, virtually anyone with a digital camera and the kahoona’s to say so, can call themselves a headshot photographer. As far as I know there are no professional bodies or qualifications needed. A classic example of this is myself – I have no formal qualifications and am not a member of any professional bodies – but, I have been a busy working headshort photographer for almost 20 years.
I learned all of the many skills involved in creating and producing photography over several years and because I was using film I had to fully understand the principles of photography before I started calling myself an actors headshot photographer. It just wasn’t possible to charge clients for my services and HOPE that the film came out right. I had to completely understand how to use a camera, how to use exposure, composition and lighting before I called myself a professional headshot photographer.
Unfortunately that is not the case nowadays as the easy of use sophisticated digital cameras takes away the need to fully understand these integral components of being a professional headshot photographer. Therefore it’s too easy to make a mistake with composition and the rules of a good actor’s headshot.
You regularly see headshots used by actors where the lighting is poor, the background is too dominant or the posing or posture of the actor conveys negativity. I feel sorry for actors who use this kind of headshot photographer unknowingly. Most ofetn these ae students just starting out on their acting career who often don’t know any better. The problem is with this kind of poor headshot is that it will do more damage to an actors’ career than they are aware of.
Casting Directors and Agents know exactly what is and isn’t a good headshot, they take a view of poor unprofessional to equate with unprofessional actor, or simply why bother looking at this headshot if I can’t really see the actors’ eyes?
My studio is in an area of London where there are quite a few photographers, not too long ago I saw a photographer shooting headshots in a location I like to use – fair play I don’t have any exclusive rights on locations or styles of headshot. The location is under an old railway bridge and gives a great backdrop for an edgey atmospheric headshot. However I saw the headshots they took a few days later and noticed that I couldn’t see the eyes of the actor, they were deeply in shadow and lifeless. I wasn’t surprised as the photographer didn’t use any kind of refectors or additional light which is needed in that kind of location – this clearly led me to beleive they didn’t really know what they were doing.
I felt sorry for the actor when I saw those headshots as she couldn’t use any of them, she should have contacted the photographer and asked for either a reshoot aor a refund. However if she didn’t know that these shots weren’t acceptable then she has really lost out as they certainly won’t help her career move forward.
So back to the title of this post, ‘Who is that co-starring in my headshot?’ it’s certainly not the photographer, and they should be. A great headshot is a collaboration between the actor and the photographer and both people should benefit from working together, the actor in securing more auditions and getting more attention, whilst the photographer should be using those headshots to build their portfolio and their reputation.
A great headshot needs two pwople to make it great!
– Who Is That Co-Starring In My Headshot?