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HEADSHOTS

No matter where you currently reside, other than L.A. and New York, it’s pretty much a given that when you land in Hollywood, you’re going to need brand new COLOR headshots.Your local photographer was probably perfectly fine for weddings, bar mitzvahs and high school annuals, but not for professional, Hollywood-caliber headshots.That isn’t something that you, …

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No matter where you currently reside, other than L.A. and New York, it’s pretty much a given that when you land in Hollywood, you’re going to need brand new COLOR headshots.Your local photographer was probably perfectly fine for weddings, bar mitzvahs and high school annuals, but not for professional, Hollywood-caliber headshots.That isn’t something that you, the actor, would necessarily recognize, but the people who will judge you here in Hollywood will.Poor-quality headshots can stop your career before it ever begins, fair or unfair as that may seem to you.

All headshots are done in color now, thanks to the popularity of online submissions.When you line up a dozen or so thumbnail shots on a computer screen, the lovely old black & whites just can’t hold up next to color shots.It’s that simple.Besides which, if you’re still using black & whites, you will appear to be so far behind the times, that casting offices will avoid you like yesterday’s egg salad.

We’re going to give you a list of some of the best photographers in town – but not any who charge an arm and a leg.If you think that spending half again as much (or more) for a photo shoot provides you with anything better than these guys can come up with, there are plenty of gougers to choose from.We just won’t recommend them.On the other hand, we have known some fabulous photographers who were so inexpensive to begin with that we wanted to hand them a few bucks just to keep them going.They were smart enough to realize that in order to build up their own portfolios, they would practically have to give their work away.Several of them are on our list and fortunately for them, are able to command “normal” prices now.Our point is merely that you might just luck out and find someone who seems too cheap to be true, but if his or her portfolio matches up with what you need, feel free to give it a go.

Before we get to that list, here are a few pointers, in no particular order:

This should be obvious (but apparently isn’t):For color shots, be sure to wear…a color!And we don’t mean those dull, boring browns, grays and khakis.We mean something that’s bright enough to draw the viewer’s eye to your headshot and which is complementary to your own coloring.The darker you are, the stronger the color should be.

No wild patterns in your clothing, please, and no jewelry.

Little or no makeup, and if you do wear makeup, be sure you can duplicate it yourself for auditions.

Keep your hairdo as “everyday” as possible, so that (as with makeup) you can do it yourself.

No costumes, at least not for theatrical shots.It’s still considered OK to suggest a costume for commercial shots.

Make sure your photographer understands the use of dramatic lighting and try to avoid outdoor shots.It’s too hard to control the lighting and bad lighting can ruin a great face.

Guys – if you can grow a scruffy beard in a couple of days, but usually are clean-shaven – start your photo shoot with that scruffy look, then shave and continue.Don’t bother with this if it takes you a week to grown pale, weak or semi-hairless facial fuzz.

Show emotion in your face and especially with your eyes.Blank stares may work for fashion models, but not for actors!

Remember – your headshots are your calling cards, the very first thing that most agents and casting directors will see.They must, must, must look like you – not some glamorized, one-day-out-of-the-year version of you.

One other word of advice:After checking out a potential photographer’s portfolio, please make it a point to meet with him prior to hiring him.It’s really important to “click” (no pun intended) with the person behind the camera.If you don’t like them much, or they seem intimidating, you will not produce relaxed, inviting headshots.

Here’s that list…

CHARLES FRETZIN

www.fretzinphoto.com

ARMEN ASADORIAN

www.armenasadorian.com

LISA BEVIS

www.lisabevis.com

JOHN CORBETT

www.johncorbettphotography.com

DENICE DUFF

www.duffimages.com

KENNETH DOLIN

www.kennethdolin.com

FRICK PHOTOGRAPHY

www.frickphotography.com

MARY ANN HALPIN

www.maryannhalpin.com

ROBERT KAZANDJIAN

www.kazphoto.com

DAVID LAPORTE

www.davidlaporte.com
      MARK BENNINGTON www.benningtonheadshots.com

VANDIVEER

www.jvimages.com

GUY VIAU

MATT STASI

www.guyviauheadshots.com

www.stasiphotography.com

 

 

There are loads of other photographers listed in the display ads in Backstage West.  You have plenty to choose from now, so no excuses!

TOUCHUPS AND DUPLICATION

Once you (and your representation, if you have any) have chosen the headshots you wish to duplicate and/or use online, check them carefully to see if they need any touchups (stray hairs, dark circles under the eyes, that stupid pimple that erupted the morning of your shoot, etc.).We suggest that you only touch up things that the makeup artist on your next film or TV show could easily cover– not permanent “flaws” that no amount of stage makeup can disguise.No matter what you order to be touched up, instruct the technician to go lightly.You do not want to completely change the shape of your features or “erase” 15 years of “maturity”.No, no, no.Your mantra should be “keep it real”.

Decide which of the photos will only be used online and which will also be duplicated in hard copies.Then shop around for the best prices for duplications.The quality nowadays is fairly standard, but play it safe:Make sure the duplication house stands behind its work and will re-do the photos if there are any serious problems with them.

Be sure that you only get 8X10s.We’re still astounded that once in a while, someone is using an oddball-sized headshot.That’s really ridiculous; if nothing else, the duplication house should have warned them not to do that.

NOTE:In our opinion, there is no reason to order more than 100 of any shot to start out.For one thing, with the proliferation of online submissions, far less hard copies are used (which is saving actors a ton of money).For another, you may find that what looked great six months ago really isn’t working for you, so why kill an extra tree just to have a pile of unusable headshots in the back of your closet?

ANOTHER NOTE:  If you’re going to send out jpegs of your headshots for any reason (and there are plenty of ’em!), for heaven’s sake, take the time to put your name on the label of each one.  There’s nothing worse for an agent or casting director than finding a jpeg floating around your computer of someone you vaguely recognize and the only identifyer is the number of the photo.  DON’T BE LAZY.  Do a cut-and-paste of your name and add it to the photo number.  That way, each shot can easily be identified.

Unless your agent specifically instructs you otherwise, you should only have your name on the headshot.All other information should be found on your resume.(Suppose you switch agents and have their logo plastered all over your headshots, of which you still have a couple of hundred left…!)

Many people really detest having their photos taken.It isn’t easy and it’s not designed to make a person feel at ease.If you’re one of those who freezes during a shoot, think about taking a good friend with you, someone who will act as your security blanket, and with whom you can laugh and have a good time.Ask the photographer if you may bring your own music, if that’s your favorite relaxer.No matter what, try to have a good time.After all, if nothing else, you are an actor.Act as if…!

No matter where you currently reside, other than L.A. and New York, it’s pretty much a given that when you land in Hollywood, you’re going to need brand new COLOR headshots.Your local photographer was probably perfectly fine for weddings, bar mitzvahs and high school annuals, but not for professional, Hollywood-caliber headshots.That isn’t something that you, …

Review Overview

Summary : Please help us keep content relevant by rating this article. If this article was of high importance to you, give it 5 stars, if not than less. Thank you!

User Rating: 2.93 ( 2 votes)
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About Kris Malone

Kris Malone is the nom de plume of a longtime Hollywood talent agent. Kris created this website as a way for actors to improve their chances of making it in Hollywood, not as a way to reach the agency for possible representation. Kris wishes all of you actors out there the best of luck, laced with a big dose of reality and plain old common sense.

8 comments

  1. “gauges” are earrings with a thicker diameter than “normal”, “girl-type” earrings. the hole in the ear is bigger, but the earring is (mostly) in the ear, little to no dangly parts. Personal opinion, gauges are similar to studs as long as they are reasonable, once you get to an 8, it’s hard to cover up. That may cost you some gigs. I used to have 10s and didn’t have any problems until my earring was “blinging” during a dramatic scene. Bad for business.

  2. Sorry, but…what in the world are “gauges”?

  3. I know this page says NO JEWELRY for headshots. But does that also include gauges? Mine aren’t that big, I can shrink them back to normal but I would prefer to wear them. Would my headshots wearing gauges alter any of my chances if seen by someone important?

    By the way, this site is awesome! So much help.

  4. Depending on how often you change your look – and how drastic the change is – it could become quite expensive to keep on changing your headshots, too. You’re better off shooting once every couple of years (only children need to shoot more often than that, since they’re constantly growing, etc.) and coming up with a few alternative styles within each shoot. In other words, since you’re a guy, you might go in with a few days’ facial hair, take a few pictures with that look, then shave and do clean-cut for the rest of the shots. Same thing with hair (no! don’t shave it off!), if it’s a flexible length. Try combing it in a couple of different styles. Practice in front of your mirror at home prior to the shoot, so you know beforehand what you can and can not do. ONE CAVEAT: (And this goes for females, too, of course.) If you change your hair color and intend to keep the new color indefinitely, you MUST get new headshots. There’s nothing worse than a blond walking in for an audition when casting was expecting a brunette!

  5. Should I get a new headshot every time I get my hair cut into a different style (even if it isn’t too drastic?

  6. It’s already there, Kat. Go to the “Must Have” page and you’ll find “Notes On Resumes” in the middle of the article.

    Glad you’re enjoying the website. That’s what we like to hear!

    – The Editor

  7. Hi. I was just wondering, would you guys mind putting a list of the information that SHOULD be on the back of your headshot, because i need that information. Thanks! This is a great website!

    KAT

  8. Just wanted to thank you for including me on your list! If you’d like please let your readership know that I’d be willing to give them a bonus ‘look’ if they mention they found me on this site. Cheers, J

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