Actor’s Portfolio: Expressing Range through Your Headshot
There’s more to professional acting than standing before a camera, looking stultifyingly beautiful. If you have the ambition and talent to seriously pursue a career in the cutthroat industry of Hollywood, you already know you’ll have to raise the stakes and rely on a killer combination of on-screen presence and effortless magnetism.
As an aspiring or professional actor looking for new and exciting career opportunities, you often only get one shot at proving your acting chops in a brief 10-minute window, otherwise known as an audition. And that is if you’re lucky enough to grab the casting director’s eye!
This is where a professional headshot comes into play—and no, it’s not the same as a glamour shot!
The Fundamentals of an Acting Headshot
Contrary to popular opinion, an acting headshot isn’t just about “selling” an actor—it’s about using image as a medium to express an actor’s personality and range. This means employing photography techniques to capture your depth as an actor without misrepresenting your essence in the slightest.
You may think this is easy breezy, perhaps a lot like acting—just stand before the photographer and pose intensely.
Actually, this is a common misconception that stems from lack of experience in headshot photography and the difference in quality between an amateur and an expert is highly distinguishable!
New to headshot photography and confused about which pose to strike? Follow these simple tips and ensure your acting portfolio is true to your talent:
1. Be Yourself
This is probably the most clichéd advice you’ll hear in the entertainment industry, but trust me when I say, actor headshots are not—and I repeat not—about being overly theatrical and flashing jazz hands (unless that’s your shtick)!
Professional acting is about “being”, not overacting. You learn the craft of channeling human emotion to give a sincere and believable performance—not put on a façade and exude an aura of pretense.
Headshot photography is the same; you’re expected to be natural and true to yourself, all the while exhibiting your range without misrepresenting who you are.
2. Communicate with Your Eyes
Refrain from putting on a contrived act in your photoshoot and instead embrace the beauty and grace of subtlety. Your eyes are truly a window to your soul, but perhaps more importantly as an actor: a powerful instrument of communication that you can use to make a concrete connection.
It’s the suave and classy alternative to typical expressions which otherwise blend you in with the rest.
3. Invest in a TALENTED Headshot Photographer
I can‘t emphasize this enough: an inexperienced photographer can singlehandedly butcher your chances of getting shortlisted in a casting call. This is because acting headshots are about getting to know the actor, understanding his or her personality and capturing them with all their colors and complexities—not hiding them under the touch of airbrushing tools.
Remember: when you get a callback, you’re expected to actually look like your headshot, not something close to it!
Do your research and hire a professional headshot photographer with experience working with professionals in beauty, fashion and film.
I’m Dino Mosley, and photography is my passion. I offer professional photoshoots to a host of clients in Los Angeles—doing my best to help you get your foot in the door with a stellar headshot that screams, “Yes, I’m the one!”