Why are headshots important for an actor?
An aspiring actor knows that without impact, you cannot do anything in showbiz. Your persona defines you as a performer. Initially, you will get the roles that are very near to your personality, after which you will expand, learn and land roles which will make you a superstar.
To get to that point, you have to convince the casting directors that you are the right person for the role. Casting directors get thousands of headshots everyday amongst which they have to choose the person that will fit the character. No matter how great a performer you are, you need to be able to make a visual impact before you can wow everyone with your skills. For this, you need a good enough headshot that catches the attention of the casting director. Your headshot needs to make them say, we need this person to come in.
Most actors these days undermine the power of a good headshot. The ease in availability of a camera allows you to take pictures of yourself and edit them in software, but it does not have the aesthetics that are required in a good headshot.
A headshot is not just a picture of your face. There is a lot of thought put into how your face will come across as powerful for the viewer. There is specific lighting to the placement of your head in a way that you catch the good side of your face in all its glory.
Professional headshots get you jobs quicker
The first thing to realize here is that no matter how many people like your pictures on social media, those are not the pictures you send to a casting director. You may have access to a great phone camera, or a friend who owns a very good DSLR and can make you look good, but that is not the material a casting director is looking for.
If you search for pictures of famous celebrity headshots online, you will notice that they are all monochromatic and have a film like feel to it, which means that many actors still prefer to get their headshots taken on film rather than a digital format. Although digital headshots can look good too, but the texture and a little bit of grain that the film adds has a much more organic feel to it.
You should always consider a professional when having your headshots taken. A professional headshot photographer knows what will make you stand out in the picture.
Know your strengths
When taking a headshot, you must know what is it about your face that makes you stand out from the others. It can be your beautiful smile, or your eyes that seem like they are staring into a person’s soul. In fact, if you are an actor and you know that you can give the most terrifying look, you can tone that down a bit and utilize it in your headshot.
If you have a very good facial structure, you can ask your photographer to throw light on your face in a way that it defines all the cuts and bones. The best headshots always highlight the beauty of the face.
Some things to keep in mind when having your headshots taken
There are some things which should never be there in your head shots. These include huge logos of brands, jewelry and heavy make-up. You want the casting director to see the natural power that you can bring to the camera. This is why you do not try to hide wrinkles. Clint Eastwood has a lot of wrinkles, but those are what defined him as the sun scorched rough cowboy in the epic spaghetti western, “The good, The bad and The ugly.”
Make sure you have your hair styled well. The only thing that you are advertising in a headshot are your looks and you cannot look good without well styled hair. Chris Pratt, the star of Guardians of the Galaxy had his headshot taken by coincidence. Hanging out in West Hollywood, someone approached Pratt and asked him if had ever been “shot” before. Pratt said no and the guy offered him a free headshot at his apartment.
Pratt followed him back but before he could take the headshot, he told Pratt to get the grease out of his hair and wear nicer clothes. Pratt took a shower in a stranger’s apartment, wore his clothes while he took the picture. That was the beginning of Pratt as an actor landing his role in “Parks and Recreation.” How you look in your headshot is very important. Get your hair washed and styled before you go to get your headshot taken.
Also make sure that you have no facial cuts when you are getting your headshot taken, unless it is unavoidable, such as the marks that the car accident left on Miles Teller’s face. Now despite having those marks, Miles Teller has been able to land good roles just because he knows how to make them work for him. Use your headshot to highlight some of your distinct features.
Your headshot is your Résumé
For an actor, the first headshot they send in to the casting director is the make or break deal. The casting directors literally have to sift through thousands of pictures and JPEG files to find out the right fit for the role. Your headshot can be your way into a movie. Make sure you get it well done.
Don’t settle for less
If you are an actor, you know how difficult it is to get past the screeners to the audition stage. You need to get to the audition to prove your actual worth, but before that, you will have to prove your visual worth. It is important that you get your headshot done well so you get where you want to be. Never settle for less. Get your headshot done from a professional headshot taker.
Every great actor from Leonardo DiCaprio to Meryl Streep started out from professional headshots, you can too, if you get it done right.