When looking for a photographer for YOU, DON’T base you decision solely on whom other people used (especially if they DON’T look like you) nor use a photographer based solely on name. What might be awesome for other people might suck for you.
Go to http://reproductions.com or other photobooks such as Argentum’s and find photographers that photograph people like you well ie. Skin tone, hair color, eye color, ethnicity, age range, physical structure, etc. Choose your top 5 and meet with ALL of them! You want to get their philosophies and their personalities. You certainly don’t want to work with someone whose personality sucks for you.
-In LA, a good price range is $250-500. If you’re paying more than $500 in LA, it’s normally for a name. Photographers in other markets like NY do tend to usually run higher in pricing. Bottom line: High pricing does NOT always correlate to high quality headshots!
-With regards to looks,
Unless you’re the REAL DEAL, you DON’T want character shots ie. literally dressing like a cop, doctor, etc. NO PROPS EITHER! This is an insult to the casting directors and will get you laughed out of this business.
You want 3-4 looks that can each suggest multiple roles or essences!
For example, a business suit look can suggest doctor, FBI, lawyer, detective, secretary, business person,etc. A casual look (jeans and t-shirt) can suggest high school, college, blue collar. An upscale j-crew/Banana Republic look can suggest young parent, preppy, white collar, etc.
These 3-4 looks you choose should be based on how you know you REALISTICALLY will be cast. If you’re a woman in your late 40s you’re most likely not going to win dressing like a college student. If you’re in your late teens or early 20s, a full business suit won’t help you that much, maybe a slighty unbuttoned dress shirt with an undone tie and no coat.
-COLOR IS STANDARD!
-For commercial headshots, it’s usually smiling and brighter colors. For theatrical (film/tv) it’s usually a more serious/intense expression and muted colors. Of course there are exceptions to the rules. My top commercial headshot is also one of my most used theatrical shots, especially since I like doing comedy.
-If you want to be serious, you NEED PROFESSIONAL headshots. For each cheap actor out there, there are a 1000 seriously investing in their career.
-It’s important that your head and part of your upper torso are clear so agents and casting directors can fairly judge you physically. NO extreme close ups or where it’s just your head.
-8X10 is standard size. Anything bigger or smaller will be filed in the circular file cabinet(garbage can).
-Always have your name printed on the head shot in case your resume does get separated.
-NEVER print your agency logo on the headshot UNLESS your agency is paying for it. What if you leave or the agency goes under and you printed a bunch with an agency logo? MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN!
-Avoid printing stuff on the back. Why?
Ink will smudge on photo paper. Even if you downgrade to Lithos (a lower quality headshot that can be printed on), the headshot is now dated for a serious actor is constantly updating his or her resume.
A printed on the back resume can also give off the wrong message that you’re not working much.
You should have your resume (that has your email and CELL phone number printed on it) neatly cut to fit your 8X10 headshot and stapled to the back.
-Having a border can have advantages in that you can NEATLY hide the staples by stapling where the border and photo meet.
-NO GLOSSY. Get matte or pearl finish (non glossy). Most indoor lighting tends to reflect off of glossies making it difficult for the agents and casting directors to see.
-No busy patterns or jewelry that will take away from your face.
-Your headshots need to LOOK like YOU on your best week day!
-Do NOT wear makeup or style yourself in a fashion that would make you look too glamorous ie. As if you’re trying to be sexy at hip club on a Saturday night.
Tell your photographer to avoid:
-Landscape cropping as the majority of your photo choices. When a landscape photo is posted online on LA Casting or Actors access, it’s appears very tiny compared to a photo that was cropped portrait. CDs get submissions as really tiny thumbnails. They might miss your photo if it’s smaller than the majority of photos that are cropped portrait.
Of course landscape can look great for personal websites or as hardcopies.
-Shooting you at weird angles, especially angles that would distort how you really look.
-Chopping off the top of the head. When too much of your head is chopped off, it makes it a little difficult as to what you really look like. Cropping off a small part of the top of your head is forgivable, but not to the extent where you look like a Hannibal Lecter victim.
-Too close. Don’t get it cropped too close to where people can’t see your body. At least some of your upper torso should be visible in your shots so CDs/Agents have a fair idea of what you look like physically.
-Silly poses. Headshots are supposed to be as natural as rain. Making stupid poses will just make you look stupider. Such common poses include, but not limited to:
1. Sitting on the toilet. This is where you’re sitting down but leaning WAY forward and shot to the side. The hunched look can make the subject look weak.
2. My head is too heavy. Don’t do a headshot where your hand is under your chin or even touching your head.
3. Look at me, I have a sexy back! I’ve seen some headshots where people are in contorted poses, looking over his or her shoulder. It’s not natural.
4. I’m a mermaid! This is where you’re laying on your stomach with your feet up.
5. Leading with my shoulder
6. I got sexy legs! This where you’re sitting down and your knees are visible.