Headshot Example 1
This is a general Headshot I use a lot - it's great coz it's multi-purpose. I look relaxed, happy - and real. This IS what I look like when I laugh! So it's a really nice 'Casual Me' shot.
It's what that producer or casting director will get when I walk through the door.
In this blog I've included some of my recent headshots. Needless to say, I love these pics! I'd love you to tell me which are your favourites too and don't forget to say why!!
To all the Actor's out there:
Headshots are very important.
An essential part of the Actor's Professional ToolKit.
They are your first port of call for casting directors, directors and producers who are interested in casting you in a production.
In my time, I have had some brilliant headshots done and some not-so-brilliant headshots. In fact, ones that quite frankly, made me cringe! I've also experienced disagreements with my agent as to which headshots to use and which headshots not to use. I've paid $1000s of dollars on headshots only to be dissappointed because none of them turned out the way I wanted them to or I looked uncomfortable and not myself. The worst is when you see some great shots of your acting friends that have had their headshots done by an amateur (but brilliant) friend-photographer. They look relaxed, happy and in that moment it seems like the essence of your friend - whether it's impish, sexy innocent, loving, dominant, strong, jock-ish, old and wise - has been captured in that one shot... It's so unfair!!
But the truth is - any one can get great shots done. You have to find the right photographer, you have to be realistic and work WITHIN your means (I mean financially) and you have to have a vision that you are comfortable and an environment to take them in that you feel relaxed, playful and creative (after all - you are an actor - and your best work is when your creative self is at play!)
So, whether you are getting your shots done by a professional or if you are getting them done by a helpful, talented friend with a digital camera, there are some very basic and simple steps that you should do EVERY TIME to ensure you have a successful shoot and you get the Headshots that YOU want.
I know, I've learnt the hard way and spent a lot of money on shots that I couldn't use or cringed every time I saw...and I don't need to tell you that there is nothing worse as an actor than feeling you have to apologise or make excuses for your stuff - and, having been on the other side of the equation as a casting director and director, I can ensure you there is nothing worse or more tedious for the person you are talking to either! Death to the cringe-factor I say! Get your toolkit right so you can be PROUD of WHO YOU ARE and YOUR WORK!
Headshot Example 2
This is a specific headshot - I don't use it very much, unless I'm going for a minxy-role. It shows I can do sexy, but as that's not my fortee - (it's not my usual ARCHETYPE CASTING) - it's not appropriate to use this one as my standard headshot. Even though it's a great shot. It's fun. But for the most part, this one doesn't look like 'ME' when I walk through the door. That's a really important part of a Headshot. You are selling you. So you'd better look the 'you' you sold them in the Headshot when you do walk into the casting room!
Here are some useful tips for when you are getting your headshots done:
1) BE IMAGINITIVE. RESEARCH and BE PREPARED. So when you are there at the shoot - you have done all the planning you need to do and your job is only to RELAX and HAVE FUN!
DESIGN, DESCRIBE and PLAN your perfect headshots in your mind - on paper - BEFORE you have your headshots done. LOOK at other actors headshots - preferably ones you admire and look up to. Ask Industry Members (your agent, casting directors, acting teacher, acting friends etc) WHAT DO THEY LOOK FOR IN A HEADSHOT? WHAT MAKES ONE STAND OUT?
Make a vision board or scrap book - cut out looks that are similar to what you are going for and stick it in beside the designs you have made to further feed your imagination and to further clarify what you want from the professionals who are going to PARTNER YOU to produce the result you are happy with.
Once you have your design and vision board/scrapbook:
Talk it over with your photographer (if you know who that is yet), your agent, your acting friends, any casting directors or professionals you know. Communicate your vision, express how you see yourself and what you want to present to the industry and take on the feedback you get when it feels right.
Now this is the preliminary stage - so, there is no room for self sabbotage here! - make sure you use only the people you trust and value the opinion of in the industry - PLEASE NO BLUDGEONING yourself over the head by asking those people who are negative or believe the industry gone to hell or think that if they can't make it you won't make it. You don't need to go there! You probably have enough doubts in your head without adding theirs!
In other words, CHOOSE your mentors and friends carefully - those that you can acknowledge when they are giving valuable feedback or criticism - and ALWAYS ALWAYS check in with yourself to sense if it feels right or sounds right, that you can understand the value of what they are saying or if you can see that what they are saying MAKES SENSE to YOU.
You are the only one you have to answer to when you are lying in bed at night.
And try to let go of that old defensiveness that comes up automatically when you do get a good piece of challenging feedback... Try it on for a bit. Test it out. You'll know soon enough if it was good advice or not. Trust yourself to try on new ways of thinking. It'll only make your sense of what you want for yourself more robust.
Get savvy. You are an actor. You are selling Yourself. This is a business. It's about putting forward the strongest, most fabulous, most accessible, most SELL-able YOU!
Headshot Example 3
This is a great headshot and one I use a lot. I am a character actor. I often work in Drama, or if in comedy, I'm the straight-guy in the buddy combo that the whacky comedian-type actor plays off. I look serious. I look present. I am up for something. There's a lot going on in my backstory. It's great as as alternative to eg 1 as a multi-purpose but again, it's ME and it's the ME that is ready to play and go to the serious/dark places.
(you know, it's quite weird talking this out with you - but I'm learning a lot from it too!
And if you don't agree, then I definitely want to hear your take on it too!)
Now this next one was a real kicker when I first heard it - and unfortunately, no I did not come up with this idea - but as soon as I heard it it was like someone had smacked me in the head, it was so obvious!
2) INTERVIEW your photographer BEFORE you do your shoot.
Hey guys, I don't know if this is a news flash for you, but it certainly was for me! YOU (the actor) are EMPLOYING the photographer (no matter how famous or how fabulous they are) to do YOUR PROFESSIONAL SHOTS. You are spending your hard earned cash on a professional arrangement. So get professional.
These photos are going to be YOUR calling card in the Industry. You wanna walk out of that shoot with Headshots tucked under your arm that you feel you can march into the industry battleground with "Yea. This is who I am. This is what I got. You want some of this?!"
In other words, I want you to LOVE what these headshot show and say about you, who you really are, the kind of work you are up for and how you know, you are a hot, SELL-ABLE product that that casting director/producer/director WANTS to snatch off the shelf as fast as possible!
Headshot Example 4
Again, good, shows the serious actress. It's a 'strong' image. I call this my 'Regal Shot'. It's good if I'm going to a strong female character - maybe a career woman or a willful daughter or student who is going to break out from what's expected or the status quo... Someone who is a bit fiesty, independent, educated (probably higher social economic background), intelligent, ready to fight or stand up to people for what she believes... See how fun this is?! Always think with your casting hat on - put yourself in their shoes.
How do you OCCUR to people in this headshot?
What kind of character immediately springs to mind?
What type of movie or role could you do from this character?
What type of movie would not be suitable?
There is no way I'd put this in for a "SPOOF Comedy" type film, is there? Unless there was a character that was on a very high horse and the comedy or character arc was going to be about seeing her fall off her perch! I am also reminded by this headshot that I have to be careful not to put forward the image of taking myself too seriously!
3) PLAN YOUR OUTFIT --- DAYS in ADVANCE!!!
You remember those trusted few that are your very special inner circle. Set up a date with one or two friends who you feel most get your vision for your headshots and do a WARDROBE CHECK.
There is nothing worse that that old self-sabbotage mechanism, after all that hard work of planning your shots, interviewing your photographers and finding your perfect professional to work with etc etc - than the last minute panick on the morning of the shoot when you scream in desperation to the gods "BUT I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR!!!"
Don't fall into this trap. Make a date at least a few days - preferrably a WEEK in advance - and PLAN your outfit.
Also, when you are showing your plan to your photographer, before you do the shoot, ask them for advice. They often know what sort of thing will look great in photos. And yes, it matters about what type of photos you are doing. Some outfits look great in black and white, others will look great in colour and some will work for both.
and when you do go to your shoot - BRING MANY CHOICES. Plan your outfits (PLURAL) and make sure you have lots of interchangeable things - as you may find that on the day, you need to change the look and you want to have plenty there to choose from.
Headshot Example 5
This one is sweet. But again, I wouldn't use it as the main photo. Could be in my complimentary photos. But the main thing about this photo that DOESN'T work as a HEADSHOT, is that you CAN'T SEE MY EYES.
And as you know, an actor's eyes are their life. Especially on camera.
Especially in a Headshot - when the Casting Director or Producer is trying to get a feel for WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU CAN DO
WHAT YOU'LL BRING TO THIS STORY/CHARACTER.
4) THINK ABOUT HAIR AND MAKEUP.
Now, you may be able to afford to have a personal stylist at your headshot shoot who will take care of everything. You may choose to go to your hairdresser that morning and have your hair cut and styled. You may want to just have it blowdryed. You may be planning to do it at home.
If you are doing it at home - PRACTISE. Make sure you've done once or twice already in the style you want to have it. Call your hairdresser and ask for advice (eg how many days before should I wash, is there a particular product I can use to reduce the 'frizz' etc) Call a professional you know who is a trained beauty stylist or just an actor that is really good at doing their own makeup that you know. If it's someone you know (and TRUST!), ask them to come over and help you design the look and teach you how to do it. In this case, if it's a look you are just learning, DEFINITELY make sure you have PRACTISED doing it before the day. You know how it is when you have nerves. The more automatic it is, the better!
If you decide to use a professional - MAKE SURE you have communicated your vision. Show them your vision board / scrapbook (this is something you can continue adding to right up to your shoot, so you can include any images or looks and styles that they suggest too). If you can afford to, it would be a good idea to do a practise BEFORE the day. So you can look at what they do and offer any further suggestions or changes that you would like.
Headshot Example 6
It's funny. I could use this one. It's quite good. But somehow, I just don't like it. It's a bit flat somehow.
It's a solid shot. I look pretty. Whimsical...
Maybe it's just that I don't see myself as a particularly pretty or whimsical person! But it's a good example of where I should get feedback from others. Perhaps they will see something that I don't...
5) ON THE NIGHT BEFORE: PLAN A RELAXED EVENING!
Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT have a big party or work social gathering the night before your headshots. If you get tense at certain things - DEFEND your night - do not let other people add something in that will make you tense (eg family gathering at the in-laws, meeting important clients of you boss at work - you know what it is for you, just don't do it. Defend your space for a night that's right for you)
PLAN a night for you. Whatever makes you feel relaxed, comfortable and happy. It may be, buying a bunch of cheap candels from the $2 shop, some perfumed bath salt and having a nice long bath listening to your favourite CD. It may be hiring a bunch of favourite funny or inspiring movies (inspiring in an uplifting way, not heavy or make-you-cry type - you don't want to have red rings around your eyes or blood shot eyes the next day, no matter how moved you felt at the time!). It may be having a quiet dinner with your boyfriend at your local favourite restaurant or meeting a girls for a couple of quiet drinks. But WHATEVER it is, make sure it's FOR YOU. And that you set yourself up for a nice, comforting, relaxing evening of self-love.
You wanna feel good about yourself going into the next day, ok? Set yourself up for a win. I know you can.
And one last vital ingredient in the night before: GO TO BED EARLY! Even if you don't feel tired, go to bed and listen to some relaxing music or read for a bit. Believe me when I say - YOU NEED A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP!
Headshot Example 7
This is a good solid multi-purpose shot. I've used it quite a lot actually.
I look natural. Relaxed. I even look a bit daggy - which is also very me.
I like Example 1 better though. I think it's because of the lighting and tone colour of my skin. I've got Italian origins, so my skin is quite naturally olive.
But it's just a personal preference. Both of these do nicely for multi-purpose Headshot.
6) ON THE DAY: GET UP EARLY.
That's right. Set your alarm clock and when it goes off, be strong, swing your legs over the side of the bed, sit up, drink some water and go put on the kettle! The best way to be relaxed and calm in the shoot is to have everything prepared and so get up with plenty of time - so you can sail through what you have left to do before the shoot.
Headshot Example 8
Here's an example of one I DON'T use. I just don't feel comfortable putting this out there as the 'me'. I look like I'm apologising for myself. Cringe-factor. Now I've had people tell me it's a nice shot.
But in terms of castability and who walks through the door, I know that using this Headshot would NOT be a match for who walks through the door. I've got more gumption than that - as you've seen in the other shots!
7) GET TO THERE 1/2 hour BEFORE the SHOOT.
Just like getting up early, this is you PLANNING and setting yourself up for a WIN. So no matter what happens, if (god forbid) something goes wrong with the car on the way there and you have to get a taxi etc etc YOU HAVE TIME UP YOUR SLEEVE to deal with whatevers come up and STILL GET THERE ON TIME.
Headshot Example 11
The first two are ok. They are what I used for a long time in the industry. So it just goes to show, you can get good shots, even if you don't use the steps I'm laying out here.
But you will not have had the experience of CREATING yourself that is one of the rich and special things that you get to do as an Actor! So why waste the opportunity to get in there and mould the career you want?!
Now back to the shots - the 3rd is a YIKES. As I said. Old shots. I was nervous. I didn't have a plan. I didn't communicate what I wanted to the photographer. And...I used to take myself VERY seriously - as you can tell - and it shows in that third shot.
But does that look like a person you'd want to work with? No!!! I wouldn't have wanted to work with the me that is in that headshot either!
I've changed. People change.
This is why it's important that you change your headshots too! When I did these, I was pretty new out of Drama School and I have to tell you - this was an example of NOT feeling completely comfortable and leaving the job to someone else (my agent and the professional photographer - after all, THEY were the professionals right?! WRONG!)
Me. I am the actor.
I am the one out there selling ME.
Even my agent can only sell ME.
So I'd better know which ME or have a vision for the ME that I want to put out there, the kind of roles I want to get and WORK WITH the professionals who are on my team.
Not leave the job up to them and hope for the best!
BTW This strategy works perfectly if blaming others for the lack of success when you fail is what you are going for. This is the perfect road to go down. It works.
You will be able to say it's not your fault, they weren't what you wanted anyway, your agent just doesn't understand you, the photographer was really cold, your hairdresser didn't get it right, your boyfriends' a bastard coz he wouldn't let you buy that top that you KNOW would have looked so much better... etc
But ultimately, you're only going to be cheating yourself. Cheating yourself of the opportunity to act in productions that challenge and inspire you. Your an actor right? So ACT!!!
8) LET IT ALL GO and PLAY!
Once your are in the shoot, you got to put all that planning aside, all the whizzing brain ideas, all the judgements and self consciousness, you have to bundle up in a ball and throw out the window. Or pack it into a suitcase and leave all that baggage AT THE DOOR as you enter the studio. It'll still be there if you need it. You can pick it up on your way out. But for now, now that you are in the shoot, LET IT ALL GO. Be Presnt. Focused. Relax and Play. Try things out. Experiment. Be Playful. It a great game - it's called "You do the photos and I'll be the model" - you probably played it when you were a kid with your first disposable camera! It's your game - if you don't like how it's going, don't be afraid to speak up. Ask for a break. Tell the photographer what you think, or what you want to go for next. Talk to him or her - they are there to help you. They want you to walk out of that studio with exciting, hot headshots too. So you tell all your friends so lots of people come to them too. They want to do a good job for you. So be in communication and give them feedback.
9) WHEN YOU GET YOUR SHOTS BACK... SPEND SOME TIME CHOOSING THE PICK OF THE LOT
Headshots are changing these days - like everything else - with the invention of these new technologies like Digital SLRs. Many professional photographers use them - but some still work on film. If they do work with digital, then you may already have been able to see the raw work at the shoot. But regardless, once you get the proof sheet or when you get the CD to look through of the first cut of the photos from your photographer, you now need to take a deep breath and SLOW DOWN. The photographer can wait. They will probably like you to make a decision as quickly as possible as they will want to print/work on enhancing (if digital) the photos that you want as soon as possible. But YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT to TAKE YOUR TIME to make the right decision for you.
Spend some time looking at them and choosing your favourites. Then take it to you trusted inner circle and ask for their opinions. Once your are happy with that selection, take it to the professionals that you work with (they are your partners after all) eg Talent Agent, Director/Teacher and get their opinion.
Once you have taken it all on board, bring your selection back to the photographer. Discuss it with him or her too. They may also have great ways of looking at it that you hadn't seen before to. So be open whilst remaining clear on your vision and what you want.
10) WHAT TO DO IF YOU HATE EVERY ONE.
a) BE GENTLE. Do Something NICE for yourself.
You know what, I have been there. And it hurts. So first things first. Acknowledge your grief. The creative child will probably be quite upset. Do something nice for yourself. Be kind adn gentle with yourself. YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME. No one is. Most likely, there will be something to learn from this experience but for right now, just be KIND and GENTLE on yourself until you've dealth with initial disappointment.
b) SALVAGE WHAT YOU CAN.
Once you've had a fews days to get some perspective REVISIT the photos.
Is there anything you can salvage? Could you use some of the shots?
Take them to a couple of friends in your inner circle and ask their opinion. Listen to it. They may see something you don't see. That why they are good friends.
c) GET BACK ON THE HORSE.
Regardless if there is or isn't anything you can salvage and turn into a win, you need to work out what specifically you did not like about these shots, the shoot itself, the people you worked with, how you set up and prepared for the shoot etc.
i) BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF.
WHAT COULD YOU DO DIFFERNTLY NEXT TIME TO GET A BETTER RESULT?
Be honest with yourself. First look at what did you do that you can change or be more effective in in the planning and set up stage or during the shoot.
ii) NOW LOOK AT WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE DONE DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME TO GET A BETTER RESULT.
Then look at what you felt the photographer or other professionals could have done differently or how you would like it to be next time to get the outcome you want.
Find a way to communicate this without blame. Blaming the other person will not help. It will cause automatic defensiveness from the other person and you will not get the outcome you want.
Remember, YOU hired THEM. If they did not produce what you want, likely the chance is that they would actually prefer to KNOW and hear how THEY COULD IMPROVE TOO.
iii) DECIDE WHAT'S NEXT?
You may want to try a different photographer.
You may need to use a different environment for you to shoot in.
You may want to play around at home with a friend for a bit to be comfortable in front of the camera.
There will be hundreds of options once you have dealt with first your upset, gotten perspective and looked objectively at the result to salvage what you can, and then communicated what didn't work for you with the other people involved. From having looked at honestly what you could have done differently to cause a new outcome, you will already have some options and new resources that you can try out and tap into. So start with those first.
THE MAIN THING IS - not matter the result - DO NOT GIVE UP.
This is you, learning about your craft. Learning about presenting yourself to others. And building the kick-ass Actor's Tool Kit that will help you sell yourself to the industry.
So GET BACK ON THE HORSE and CONTINUE TO PLAY!
or a nicely positioned web-cam and a comfortable you...
Home-grown Headshot Example 14
Not too bad right? These are just some examples of me playing around home.
Now just in case you think I'm one of those people who always loved the camera coz I'm an actor and an extrovert and I've pranced in front of it since I was knee-high to a grasshopper... WRONG! When I was younger and wanted to be an actress I knew I was good. I knew I was talented. Who cared what I look like? People in the Industry would look past all that, they'd look at my CV, see I'd gone to Drama School and was pro-active, doing things in the industry and give me an audition, right??! WRONG again!
Think about it from the Producer or Casting Director's side...
They know HUNDREDS of actors in Sydney alone. And those are probably just their personal friends in the industry. THEN as a professional, for each and every production, they get 100s if not 1000s (if we are talking high-profile feature film) of actors submitted for each project... What makes you think they have time to look at your showreel or your CV if they don't first see something in that Headshot that makes them WANT TO SEE MORE?!
I used to be - and sometimes still am - REALLY NERVOUS in photos! Like ugly duckling. I can't tell you how many terrible shots there are floating about in cyberspace, on facebook and eternally frozen in family albums of me looking terrible!! Ask my fiancee. He knows.
When people poke a camera at me I generally freeze. I go all self-conscious and I often get this really stuck-weird-grin on my face!
But getting professional headshots done - and generally even having your photo taken one in which you end up looking natural and happy - is a SKILL. A LEARNED SKILL.
Sure there is the odd one-in-a-million person there who is so photogenic that they have never had a terrible shot taken of them in their life... but I promise you, most of those gorgeous actor friends or models you know that seem to always turn up looking beautiful in party photos have PRACTISED many MANY times. In front of a mirror, taking photos of themselves, having photos taken with others. They take 100s and 100s. And if you really sat down and looked through all the shots taken, you would find some where they don't look perfect either.
The trick is - TAKE MANY.
FOCUS ON SOMETHING - your friend pulling a funny face - the hot boy in the corner of the room that's just looked up and is sort of smiling at you...
Or if you are in a professional situation - REMEMBER something.
Think of SOMEONE.
GET INTO A CHARACTER.
Anything - to have an INNER LIFE that is rich and vibrant and ALIVE.
The camera sees it.
WE see it when we look at the shot.
In fact, we don't just see it - we LOOK for it.
And here's a NEWSFLASH FOR YOU:
We WANT you to TELL US a STORY!
I've said it before. I'll say it again. You're an actor right?! So ACT!!!
11) PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FIRST!
Know your best side!
THINK ABOUT IT LIKE YOU ARE SELLING CHOCOLATE or A FANTASTIC RANGE OF CLOTHES or a COOL NEW CAR.
YOU are your business. You are an actor. You are SELLING YOU. You are also choosing what you want to sell yourself AS. You are putting the YOU out there that you want to share with the world and that the audience (and therefore the producers, casting directors, directors etc) wants to BUY.
Now that you've got your kick ass Headshots, you gotta get them out there!
It's important that you go out and TEST and MARKET your Product. Maybe try putting them online - somewhere private, but that you can direct people to. Then send the link to your friends, family, random people, people you've just met at a party or on facebook. Communicate your vision - what purpose you want these headshots to fulfill - and ask them for feedback. Do they achieve that? What impression do they get? Which do they automatically like/dis-like? etc
Basically, you have to practise PITCHING YOURSELF to the world and take on the feedback that will help you REFINE your product so it is the most GRAB-ABLE! Getting headshots done is a process you will go through many, many times as an actor. And each time it is an opportunity to REINVENT yourself. So have fun with it. Build up the rest of your Actor's Tool Kit around your vision and how you are branding yourself.
You want to be so hot on the shelf (or casting website) that you won't stay up there for long!
Looking forward to your feedback on my headshots,
Actor / Director / Writer
from Luanr Wolf Productions
PS Most of these fabulous Headshots were done by a very talented professional photographer MAX DIAMOND - who is now a personal friend. It just goes to show, you can find a professional that really does get who you are, what your vision is, and what you want to show.
My fiancee and I even used him for our engagement photos... but that's for another time!
You can check out his website at: