Why a Head Shot?

A headshot is used for many reasons, but being an Actor (whether experienced or not) you need a good headshot to supply to your potential employer. Your headshot is used by casting directors, casting associates, talent agents, directors and producers to simply give them a picture of you before they decide whether or not you are right for the role they have been advertising and searching for.

 You'd be surprised how many people send Polaroids, Xeroxes, or other photos in place of a professional looking headshot. Don't... they go directly into the trash or worse, completely ignored!

 Your headshot is primarily a photograph used by casting directors who use your photo as a way to see who they may be hiring for work in their next piece of filming. It is, put rather simply, a photograph taken from the shoulders upwards “ so, a photograph of your head and neck, with perhaps a little bit of shoulder thrown in.

Okay, so your actor's headshot should be a particular standard size that most people in the industry use – 8 x 10 inches in size. However, sometimes with movie extra work, the casting associate or extras casting agency will just require a 4 x 6 photo. Depending upon the type of job or audition you are attending, you might want to ask which type of photo you should supply.

 At a point where you might be seeking just movie extra work, then a standard photo will suffice. This can help keep the cost of your headshot to a minimum. The best photos are those that are not staged; however, there is still a requirement for your headshot to appear professional. You will look your best  without a hat, cap, glasses, sun glasses, and a scarf. No shadows crossing your face.

 Your headshot should be a recent photo, so that casting directors can see how you look right now. You can supply your actor's headshot in color. B&W does not allow to see your eye color, hair color and skin tone.

What makes a great headshot?
A great headshot is the perfect balance of quality, individuality, and effectiveness. A great headshot works on two levels, first esthetically - it looks good to the eye, even upside down. It grabs the attention of the viewer and pulls him/her in. Agents receive thousands of headshots a month. Your headshot has to stand out from the group and grab that agent by the lapels and say, "Look at me!"

Secondly, it has to place the actor within a context that makes it easy for the industry professional to mentally cast that actor. They should be able to picture the actor in specific types of roles. This actor would make a great Romantic Lead, that one would make a great Villain. The headshot should be specific enough to define elements of a "type" but not so specific that it limits the actor to only one note. No one headshot can represent all of the possible roles that a talented actor could play, but an effective headshot can represent qualities that logically give a perspective for casting that actor.

I have to add at this point that my actual opinions at this stage are that if you are only just starting your acting career then you should really be concentrating on saving yourself some money and not paying a professional to take your headshot. I say this because it is all too easy to succumb to paying a 'nice price' on one photo that might have to be changed the next time you cut/color your hair. Remember this potential employer of yours – she wants to see how you look right now, not six months ago when you were 5 lbs lighter/heavier or different hair color!

As a final word, please remember that your actor's headshot and resume together is the most important tool that you can possibly use when it comes to finding work. The more time you spend finding out about how to take your headshot, the more likely you are to be successful with that particular casting.

Good luck!



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