Actors - Your Headshot should reflect YOU! / by Christian Webb

The mad cool Nicolette from Aligned Stars Talent agency Atlanta.   Christian Webb Photo

The mad cool Nicolette from Aligned Stars Talent agency Atlanta.   Christian Webb Photo

 Okay, so you're an  actor about to get new headshots.  You tell your photographer that you want your "new" headshot to be completely different so you can get other roles. Sounds okay yeah?  I mean, no one wants to be type cast right?  WRONG!  Let me explain.

During my Mastering The Headshot workshop, we were fortunate enough to get a few actors from a local talent agency in NY.  One of the actresses stood at about 5'1" (if that) and had a tiny frame and  could play 15 years young even though she was 25.  She had huge doe eyes and a perpetual look of pure innocence on her face no matter what she was doing.  Of course though, she came in and wanted the students to shoot her to make her look "BAD ASS!"   Now, let me just say that yes, I think some versatility in an actor's headshot is fine.  You may want to reflect a maximum of 2 looks. Those looks usually being the more dramatic vs friendlier, more commercial.  Dramatic however doesn't mean going the distance to look total opposite to your normal look.  You might now be asking "well, why not? I'm an actor yeah? Shouldn't I show range?"  No. Not really.  The best headshots are ones that reflect how an actor looks in real life and captures some of their character.  Shooting the girl mentioned above for example to look like Lara Croft wouldn't serve her any good when she shows up to casting looking like Mini-Mouse. (both gorgeous ladies of course!)  I want my actor's to walk into a casting and be the same person as in the headshot that got them into the room  in the first place.  

There are some actors who can play on that line between both bad ass and more subdued innocent.  But if you naturally look like the super bad ass looking, rough, tough character type in person and then try to make yourself look like a soft, sweet, boy or girl next door type, this is NOT a good idea.   Some may ask "well, how does someone get different roles?"  The answer: THEY DON'T Just kidding.  Look, as an actor you need to truthfully analyze yourself and KNOW your type.  You have to know how you're going to be perceived in castings and do your best to own your type.  That's YOUR brand.  That's how you will market yourself.   It doesn't mean that you can never get cast as a complete opposite to your  "normal" look.  It happens.  There are many factors that go into that.  Early on in your career, you may not have the option to play against your type as many A listers do later in their careers.  Also, if you just simply get great shots that reflect who you are,  later, if you're talented enough you can  audition and campaign for roles that you normally wouldn't get.   

So, keep it simple.  KNOW WHO YOU ARE!  KNOW YOUR TYPE and BE YOU. Make sure your photographer knows WHO YOU ARE prior to your shoot. This is essential in getting great headshots and will ensure that you're getting shots that will ultimately get you called in again and again and again!