Should the desire to look your best or perhaps better than you normally do be the motivating factor to update your actors headshots?
Obviously we all want to look our best in our headshots – that’s only natural and it’s also important that your headshot should catch you looking your best. This isn’t narcissism; it’s about being professional and presenting yourself in the best possible light. Sure, you should want to look like you do on your best day, it’s important that you don’t look tired, that your hair isn’t badly cut or styled and your clothes compliment your headshot rather than dominate it.
It’s you the actor that has to be the focal point of the headshot.
It’s not the photographer’s skill with fancy lighting or allowing their ego to get the better of them by delivering a super-stylish headshot – it should be their skill in presenting ‘you the actor’ in your best possible light that is on show.
One crucial thing you shouldn’t attempt to do in your headshot is mislead the viewer into believing you look different than you actually are. With actors headshots the viewer is the casting director.
Vanity Over Reality?
When you begin the process of researching headshot photographers there’s the temptation to be‘wowed’ by beautiful pictures – headshots that are not necessarily effective working headshots – but headshots that are beautiful. It’s tempting to think that you’d look great in one of those headshots – and you probably would. Maybe you even look better than you normally do, but is this personal vanity and are you missing the point of an actors headshot? I think yes you are!
It’s easy to assume that if you look fabulous and your headshot is very stylish you’ll have a much better chance of being cast, but remember your actors headshots have to look like you. The number one complaint from casting directors is that the actor doesn’t look like their headshot when they turn up for an audition.
Absolutely not! Actors headshots styles do change over time and of course it is better that an actor uses a current headshot that looks like them rather than a 1950’s style headshot (unless it’s for a specific purpose).
Is it more important to have fancy lighting or to have a connection with the viewer? Will the casting director be more impressed by a modern slick stylish headshot or a headshot where the actor has substance and connection? Obviously it’s the latter.
Understanding light and its manipulation is an integral part of a photographer’s skill, you don’t always need to use artificial lights to take a great headshot but understanding light and how it affects the subject in this case the actor, is absolutely necessary. Likewise shooting a good headshot is not about over-processing the image in Photoshop and delivering your client a headshot that neither looks like them nor has any semblance of reality.
Some headshot photographers have evolved a style that makes the actors they photograph look beautiful – too beautiful n fact, this applies both to men as well as the women they photograph – but do these beautiful photographs end up showing the real you and securing you more work? I’m afraid not. They pander to your vanity.
If you have a pockmarked complexion or perhaps heavy bags under your eyes and your photographer has digitally removed your bags or polished your skin to unnaturally smooth lustre, it doesn’t matter how beautiful you look in your headshot the unfortunate fact is you won’t look the same when you walk into the casting suite.
Wasting The Casting Directors Time
Why would you risk the wrath of the very person you are trying to impress? Yet this is exactly what happens when you submit a headshot that doesn’t look like you, you’re wasting the casting directors time and risking future opportunities. If the casting director remembers you in the future for sending in an unrealistic headshot you may well be risking your chances this time around, hey may just skip on right by you.
Remember substance wins the day, if you’re not quite right for this role you might be for the next one
In the words of Bobby Orr… “Forget about style; worry about results.”