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Actor’s Headshot Advice -Pre Shoot Preparation.

  • Pre shoot preparation
  • Marginal gains
  • The elixir of life
  • The right headshot photographer
  • Hair or scare?
  • Benjamin Franklin


Episode 4 of ‘Snapshots’

In this episode, we’re talking about actor’s headshot advice, pre shoot preparation, why it matters, and how we can help you get the very best out of your headshot session. The first thing we’ll talk about is why wouldn’t an actor think about preparing in advance, because you’d be surprised of how many people don’t bother to take the time to do a bit of preparation in advance. As a headshot photographer this stuns me, and makes me wonder why people never do their preparation. But there are people out there who think that. headshots are no big deal, they think ‘I’m a pro, I’ll just rock up at the shoot and knock the out easily’.

Pre shoot preparation

And you know, something, some of those people can do that, they do pull it together. But here’s the big thing. They tend to only get good headshots, passable headshots, they don’t get those really outstanding, eye catching headshots with the WOW factor. Their headshots are never EPIC headshots that catch the eye of the casting director. And if you think about it, that’s why you’re there, that’s what your headshot session is all about. You invest in new headshots because you want to catch the eye of the casting director. You want them to notice you, to see you, like your look, like your CV and therefore invite me to audition. Essentially, a great headshot means more auditions. So think about it seriously, do a bit of preparation before you go.

Marginal gains

There’s a term in the elite sporting arena called marginal gains. Marginal gains is all about looking at the things you do and your processes for getting headshots. Or your approach to auditions, learning monologues or whatever it may be inn your search for more acting roles. The idea is to look at your methods and to increase it or improve each by maybe 1%, or 2%. Giving actor’s headshot advice, pre shoot preparation is all aimed at helping actors get better headshots because they are so important in an actor’s career.

Think about headshots, there may be ten things that are really important to get a great picture. doing your preparation, getting your characters right, arriving on time etc. If you can improve each one of these elements by 1%, it basically means is you’ve increased your chances of getting a better headshot by 10%, or your headshot will have improved by 10%. That will make it a better headshot.

Actor’s headshot advice

Acting is a really, really competitive arena with lots of talented actors all wanting the same as you, more work, more auditions and more success.. Maybe if you take a look at the marginal gains philosophy you’ll see one or two things that could improve your approach or recharge your energy and enthusiasm.

For most actors at the start of their career, before they hit the big-time, they need to use a headshot as their main point of contact, as their calling card, and it’s the thing that gives the first impression to a casting director. So why wouldn’t you do every single thing possible to make sure you get any edge you can, to get epic headshot. That’s my attitude towards it the headshot process and I want to help the actors who come to see me achieve that,. This is why I offer actor’s headshot advice about pre shoot preparation.

The right headshot photographer for you

One of the ways I suggest people do this is; once you’ve picked your photographer – and I’ve talked about choosing the right headshot photographer for you in Episode 2 of Snapshots. Once you found the right headshot photographer and you booked your date, give yourself enough lead time so that you can do the right preparation. Think about things you do two or three days beforehand. Make sure you get enough sleep, that will help get rid of the bags around your eyes, the tired look around your face. It will give you more energy on the day.

Remember, it’s about expressing your personality and if you’re tired or low in energy you probably won’t be able to express your true personality. As I mentioned earlier, some people can just rock up on the day do it. But they often try to too hard and not committed fully, and they end up not showing their true personality. So, make sure you get plenty of sleep, as I say, it might sound common sense.

I understand that lots of actors are holding down part time jobs or they’ve been working in bars or clubs or restaurants and it can be late when they finish their shift. If that’s how you work, make sure you book a session late on the day to give yourself a chance and get some rest.

The elixir of life

actor's headshot advice

It’s really, really important that you get some water, in fact lots of water in those four or five, six days before the session. Especially now, when

the weather is hot, and often without realising it, we can get dehydrated.. Stay off the coffee and tea, stay off the fizzy drinks because they’re all diuretics and help you lose water, and so on just for a few days, give your body a chance. Your skin will appreciate it. Your skin will look better and more lifelike. Remember, we want your picture of your headshot to look your do on your best day. You must look like you, it must be a realistic likeness of you as you are now, not as you were a few years ago.

Hair or scare?

Think about your hair. I can’t tell you how many times people have turned up for a session and said, ‘I‘ve just like my haircut this morning, or last night and it doesn’t look quite right. I don’t feel comfortable’. And so, all the way through the shoot their mind is worrying about their hair, or a piece of hair falling in the wrong place. Or maybe it is cut too short or the style wrong. The result is they can’t really express true emotions and true personality because, in the back of their mind, they don’t feel comfortable as they are worrying about how their hair looks.

So I’ve got a little story for you, as I have about Boston saying, well, this is a new experience I have that happened not too long ago when a guy came for a headshot shoot.

Last minute decisions

He looked preoccupied all the time. And then when he was looking in the mirror constantly. And it wasn’t until about two thirds through the shoot that he said to me he’d had his hair cut that morning. The stylist used a different product that he’d normally used and his hair kept fall ing down.

He was conscious of this and in the end, I could see he wasn’t focused and wasn’t working with me and the headshots. So in the end, I said to him don’t worry about your hair. Allow me to worry about it and then I can fix it in Photoshop. Well, at this point the whole vibe of the shoot changed. He felt this was a huge weight off his shoulders. And, literally within about 10 or 15 minutes we had two or three absolutely splendid, epic headshots, and he was thrilled with them.

Part of the reason I say choosing your headshot photographer is important is because it’s important .if you want to be able to say ‘I don’t feel comfortable about this, is there anything you can do?’ Of course, most headshot photographers will go out of their way to give you the best service they can because they want you to have fantastic headshots. Hopefully you’ll your friends all about a great headshot session

Benjamin Franklin

One of the founding fathers of America said something really important many years ago, it was; ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’, no truer word was spoken. If you don’t take your headshot session, seriously, and commit to 100%, then how on earth can you expect to get the very best results? How can you expect to walk away with a headshot with the WOW factor? You can’t.

I suggest you work backwards from the date you booked your session. Give yourself time to rest if you need to, book a couple days off work. Doing this will benefit you in the long run. Plan what you’re going to wear, if you’re going to have your hair restyled, get it done three or four days in advance or a week in advance if you have the time. this way if you really, really hate it your new hair you have the time to, either change it, or reschedule.

Take your headshot seriously, don’t be one of those actors who thinks to themselves their headshot session isn’t a big deal – it is!

Do your preparation and make sure you get a fantastic headshot and get the very, very best headshot you can.

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