Anyway, this next blog, part 2 in our probably 3 part incredibly cleverly named series, "The Business of Show Business (TM)" is about the all important Headshot. In Part 1 we talked about Agents and how you are pretty much required to get one if you want to make a serious go at this whole acting professionally thing. We also said that to get one you need a Headshot... "Okay," you ask, "Could you be a little bit more specific about what that entails?" Why yes, inquisitive theatre student, yes I can...
Headshots... Aren't those like... really expensive?
For professional Headshots yeah, they are pretty darn expensive. Here is the good news though, you do not need professional Headshots as a young actor looking to get an agent. What you need is a decent photo of yourself focusing on around the shoulders and up. A little bit lower is fine, but just the top half, full body photos will look amateur. This photo should be in color, no instagram filters :-) But here is the most important thing about a Headshot, be it professional or otherwise, it needs to show the actor's personality. Are you the bubbly, comedic type? Your Headshot should say that without anyone ever having to meet you. Are you a more simple, sweet person? I should be able to tell that by looking at your Headshot. The trick here is not to pose. The agent or casting director wants to see you, not your, "I'm taking a picture face." Whoever is taking the pictures, take LOTS of pictures, 99% of them will probably be useless, but you will find those 1 or 2 photos that just feel like you, those are your Headshots.
But what if I am confident in my abilities, I know this is what I want, and I or my parents have some extra cash, how do I get good professional Headshots?
I personally don't recommend making the leap to professional Headshots until you have secured an agent (you will pretty much have to get them at that point but at least then you know you will be using them for professional jobs). That being said, if you just can't get a picture you are happy with, or have been sending stuff our for a while and feel like your Headshot is holding you back, or you have money to burn and want to dive right in, well there are some tips for finding a Headshot photographer. First, the best ones around here all work in the city, seems kinda obvious, but if you are going to take the plunge and pay for Headshots, then you might as well get high quality ones worth what you paid for them. Backstage.com is a great resource for actors, not just for Headshot photographers, but pretty much for everything. I could probably do a whole blog post where I just type "Backstage.com is awesome!" over and over and over again. If you go to their resource section one of the options is Headshot photographers, you can sort them by most popular, see examples of their work, get links to their websites. It really is fantastic. Just make sure you take a look at where the photographer is located while you look at all the pretty pictures, if you are near NYC you don't want to schedule a photo session with a photographer in LA. Finally, your best resource for finding a good photographer is your agent, and that is one of the reasons I suggest waiting till you got one to get Headshots. Most agents have a photographer or 2 that their clients work with and like, they can make recommendations and you can bet their clients tell them when they do or don't like working with someone.
Wait! One more thing about Headshots...
The last reason to not get professional Headshots until you have an agent is your Headshot NEEDS to stay current. Now if you are an adult, you you can probably get away with getting new Headshots every ten years or so, if you start looking significantly different it is time to get new Headshots. As a young actor you are still growing, which means you look significantly different every couple of years. This means you could get professional Headshots to get an agent and by the time you finally get one you look different enough that you need new Headshots! "But why?" you ask. Well Headshots are the first thing casting directors are going to see of you, it's how they will decide if you are right for a particular role. So if you look different from your Headshot you might get called in for a role you no longer fit, or worse yet, not get called in for a role you would be perfect for, because your outdated Headshot doesn't show it. I went in for an open call for a production of Seussical, at the time I was the perfect build for Horton. My 3 year old Headshot didn't show that, I was typed out, that means I didn't get to audition because my Headshot didn't look like any of the parts they were trying to fill... it didn't look like me anymore either. To make matters worse I was called in at a later date, again based on an old Headshot, for a part I was not right for, I went in and auditioned, but I was wasting both my time and the casting director's, all because of an old Headshot.
Phew... So that is all for this week.