Retouching Your Actors Headshot
There are two trains of thought on retouching actors’ headshots; More is good or less is better.
I’m of the second opinion. Actors’ headshots are real, they have to look like you. They are not full-blown editorial beauty shots.
Too much retouching steals your realism and places you in the fake it till you make it pot.
I have news for you… it’s more like ‘never make it when you’re faking it’ in terms of your headshot!
Casting directors are busy, influential people, why would you try to dupe them and waste their time?
Every actor should take an honest look at their headshot and then do the dame in the mirror. Be realistic, do you really look like your headshot? Have you gone crazy with the retouching, is it really you as you look now?
Retouching Your Actors Headshot
Consider this scenario…
You’ve armed yourself with a set of awesome headshots. You feel really confident about showing them to the people that matter!
The only thing is – you’ve just noticed you’ve got a couple of stray hairs across your face in your favourite headshot.
What’s the best thing to do?
The best option is to go back to your original headshot photographer and ask them to remove the hair. Obviously, there’ll be an additional cost, but this is money well spent. They’ll be used to doing this kind of retouching and keeping it consistent with their style of headshot. After all that is why you booked a session with them – you liked their style.
Retouching Your Actors Headshot DIY Style
Alternatively, you could retouch the headshot yourself. There are many types of photo editing software out there, from the ‘all bells and whistles’ professional’s favourite, Photoshop. To stacks of free apps such as BeFunky, Snapseed and YouCam Perfect to name just a few. The problem is using them correctly to deliver realistic, professional standard results. It’s also knowing when to stop to maintain realism, your headshot has to look like you.
There’s lots of tutorials out there, but watching a tutorial is not the same as a practical application. In the case of a stray hair across the face I mentioned above – the results have to look natural. Even tackling simple issues such as spots or bags under the eyes needs to be done properly otherwise the retouching of your actor’s headshot will look obvious. And, obvious isn’t good! So having a go yourself may sound appealing but it isn’t always the best idea.
Remember, a poor or badly retouched headshot can make the difference between a casting director noticing you for the right reasons and noticing you for all the wrong ones.
Many of us have friends who are good at tweaking photos to look pretty on social media. Maybe they could retouch your headshot?
If they are an expert at retouching, let them do it for you. The thing to remember is that this isn’t a beauty or fashion headshot, it’s an actor’s headshot. They need to understand the difference and it’s your job to ensure they do. They need to understand what’s riding on your headshot – your career. Let me say that again, it’s your career you are playing with.
It’s straightforward to spot a badly retouched headshot, if you read Tip no.50 – Go Easy on The Retouching, in my book The Headshot Bible you’ll understand more about what is good and what is bad retouching.
The most important point to consider is ‘how will your headshot be received if it’s been poorly retouched’, I can tell you for a fact – badly!
What it says about you as an actor is this, I’m an amateur or I’m unprofessional or I’m a time-waster. One more thing to consider is if the retouching of your actor’s headshot is not correct It can also damage the reputation of the headshot photographer. If an Agent thinks this is an accurate representation of the quality of the photographer’s work, they’re most unlikely to recommend their clients go and see them for new headshots.
In The HEadshot Bible, Tip no.5 – Be Professional, I talk about your whole approach and attitude to your career, be professional at all times. In Tip no.25 – Your Main Marketing tool, I explain how and why it’s important that everything about your headshot is right.
Finally, if you do decide to go down the DIY retouching route. Take a moment to think about the money you’ve spent, the extra shifts you’ve had to work and all of the training and hard work you’ve done to get where you are today – don’t take the risk and nullify all of your efforts by sending out a headshot that’ll get you noticed – for the wrong reasons!