As an actor, your headshot is a calling card, your ticket to the big time, your face and hopefully your fortune. So make sure you’re not nobbling your chances before you've even got to the audition…
“A lot of people either tighten their lips or don't open their eyes wide enough – or both,” says the IdeasTap headshot photographer Camilla Greenwell. “People should practice their 'neutral' face in the mirror before they go for headshots.”
“Be wary of smiling,” says ex-casting director and IdeasTap Director of Programming, Will Davies. “You want your headshot to be as neutral as possible. That also means no hands,” (you are an actor, not a cherub).
We’re not saying that you’ll get parts based on your barnet (although Jennifer Aniston may beg to differ). Rather, having your face obscured by hair is going to make it harder for casting directors to judge your look. That goes for beards, too. Make sure that, if you’ve shaved, you’ve done a good job and if you have a wild mane, it isn’t covering up your lovely face.
Also, warns Will, be careful of having too contemporary a haircut. So much acting work is period drama – you don’t want to eliminate yourself from consideration.
Wearing distracting clothes
Yes, we mean distracting in the sexy sense, but also just visually distracting. Low-cut tops are a no-no (unless, you know, it’s one of those films) as are visible logos, jewellery, patterned clothes, piercings and ruffs (well, you know how some people are). If in doubt, go for a plain t-shirt and take off everything that tinkles.
Too much make up
Listen, your headshot isn’t supposed to look sexy, it is supposed to look like you. The “raw” you, as IdeasTap member and headshot photographer Charley Murrell puts it. So wash your face and be very, very sparing with the colouring in.
Shadows may look great in film noir, they’re less helpful when yours is the 675th headshot the casting director has seen that afternoon. Make sure that your headshot is properly lit and that all of your face is easy to see.
Here are a few more for free…
Only getting one type of headshot
As an actor you’re presumably hoping to audition for a range of parts. So, why not have a couple of different headshots?
“It's worth trying out lots of different looks as you won't know what role will come up in the future,” says Charley. “Trying different looks during your headshot shoot will save you money, because you don’t need to keep going back to get new ones.”
Will suggests hair up and hair down, with a t-shirt and with a collared shirt (for formal vs informal), one with a beard and one clean-shaven (for age range).
Your headshot should just be head and shoulders. That’s right – like the shampoo.
Only black and white
“A colour photo is fine,” says Will. “In fact, if you’re a redhead, for example, a coloured photo can really make you stand out.”
Not updating your headshot
This photo is meant to be an accurate representation of how you look now. Not how you looked nine years ago. Try to get it reshot every three-to-five years, or any time you have a drastic change of appearance (haircut, weight loss etc.).
To get a professional headshot, for free, apply for the IdeasTap spa headshot parlour.
"Alexander" Headshots by Michael @ NW Lens via Flickr under a (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.