Even the most selfie-obsessed actor can struggle when it comes to figuring out what their commercial headshot should ideally look like in order to impress those elusive casting agents. Sure, you want that photo to reflect the real you, but in a world of filters, Facetune, and Photoshop, it’s getting more and more difficult to see ourselves clearly.
Scoring the right look and vibe is, of course, going to depend on a variety of factors. Before you get dolled up for the next shoot, consider a few things first:
Is this photo neutral?
Okay, obviously it’s best to let your personality shine through in your headshot. But unless your goal is to only get submitted for one type of role, you’re going to want that image to remain a bit on the neutral side. This means selecting an outfit and background that won’t take away from what’s most important: your beautiful face!
Consider which demographic you fall into, and do let your unique self shine through while maintaining a broad approach for casting agents. You can alternatively choose a few different looks if multiple shots are in your budget, but typically, you’ll need at least one that you can use for a plethora of roles.
Is this what I really look like?
Most of us - if not all of us - would love it if a soft light filter followed us around everywhere we go. But before you ask your photographer for that mole on your neck to be photoshopped away, and for your cheekbones to look a smidge more defined, consider what the casting agent’s first impression will be of you if you walk into the room looking only slightly like that headshot.
Even if it’s the best headshot you’ve ever held in your hands, if it doesn’t look like what you look like today, it might as well go in the trash.
Can I ask anyone for their expert opinions first?
It’s 2019, and we have a world of resources at our fingertips. Step one would be doing exactly what you’re doing right now and asking the Internet for some free guidance.
If your photographer is at all experienced in working with actors, don’t be afraid to ask for the opinions and let them guide you. Taking acting classes? Talk to your peers. Ask your instructors for their input. Have an agent? Believe me, they’ll have their expert opinions and advice to offer as well.
An objective take may just help you nail down what works best for you.
Will I be able to use this photo long-term?
Maybe you have money to burn and this isn’t an issue, but for many actors, those headshots need to work for at least a year-- or until a new gig requires you to chop off your hair or shave your beard. If your current look is bound to change in the near future for whatever reason, keep that in mind before you drop serious cash on those prints.
Do I love this photo?
It seems obvious, but if the whole world is telling you they love a photo of you, you may find yourself convincing the little voice in your head that everything is fine. Don’t do that. Being proud of your headshot will give you a boost of confidence when you submit for roles, and as mentioned plenty of times above, you’re spending your hard-earned dollhairs on this and should have final say!
There is a world where both your colleagues’ professional opinions and your personal opinions both live; it just may take a bit of extra effort on your part to find that happy medium.