To create the best actor headshots, picking a top quality photographer and hair and makeup artist is a good start. A good photographer includes one that not only has great shooting skills, but one that can plan and prepare you for an awesome shoot. As a photographer I love helping actors prepare because it empowers you to be your best and be proud of what you produce. There are so many ways that you, as an actor can elevate the quality of your headshot and stand out from all the others. Here are 7 things actors can do to make their headshots exceptional.
1. Connect with your photographer
Come to your shoot with intention and a genuine desire to connect with the photographer. When you do, the result is a natural shoot and that “je ne sais quois” (“I don’t know what”) magic every agent, casting director and film industry professional is always trying to find in an actor. Tell stories, jokes, talk about things that genuinely interest you. Find out what you have in common with your photographer. Open up, be vulnerable and show yourself because that’s what you want to show in your headshots. A photoshoot becomes interesting when there is a real connection between the subject and photographer.
2. Be the best version of you
If you need a kick in the bum to start working on those goals you have for yourself, here it is. *Kick*. You will feel remarkably better about your photos when you look like the best version of yourself. If that means getting in shape, getting a facial, dying your roots, getting a good haircut, grooming, upgrading your wardrobe, or being/looking healthier, do it! Empower yourself. Some people think these things are just superficial, but they’re often a reflection of your self-worth and what you feel you deserve in life. I learned this when I got my own headshots done after picking up a new yoga hobby. Worth it! I’ve also had multiple return-clients shoot with me for a second time completely made over after having spent a year improving themselves. The sense of satisfaction beaming from them is something you can’t fake or manufacture, and they’ll tell you it was well worth the effort.
3. Know what you want to communicate to the film industry
Part of my headshot process as a photographer is to discuss what roles you want and what you’re already getting called in for. It’s a great starting point for getting to know you and why you are an actor. You should know what types of roles you are good for and what you want to play. Be on the same page with your agent and ask them if they want something specific from your headshots. It may also be worth talking to an acting coach or casting director about. Ask yourself what shows/movies you enjoy and which actors you love. This should help you narrow down what direction you want your career to go. Knowing where you want to be will help you get there. It will also make your headshots more useful to you and your career.
4. Make your wardrobe work for you
Bad clothing will suck a photographer’s attention if they have to maneuver to make it less obvious. As an actor you want to have a good set of clothes to draw from for shoots, meetings and auditions. We can all get extremely habitual with clothing. It can become an extension of ourselves so much that we can become blind to what it’s communicating to everyone around us. Know how you want others to perceive you and make sure your clothing reflects that. Basics like solid t-shirts and tank tops that are well fitted are a good starting point. If you’re not intuitive in this department but need a change, ask for help. Shop with a friend, get a stylist or do some internet research. Another thing you should do before a shoot is to iron/steam your clothes, unless you want it to look grungy (sometimes you do). Wrinkles can look really distracting and photoshop isn’t ideal for really wrinkly clothing. You don’t want your studio time spent steaming, so do it the day before your shoot. Got a great wardrobe already? On to number 5….
5. Relax your mouth and smile with your eyes
Most people hold tension in their mouths and sometimes it can take a lot of direction from the photographer to correct this. Practise relaxing your jaw/mouth in the mirror. Often times when nervous people are asked to smile, they have a huge grin and blank eyes. This is especially true for women with large eyes as they are very prone to the deer-in-the-headlights look. What you really want to do is reverse this. 1. Smile with your eyes, or as Tyra Banks calls it, “Smize”. This basically means squint a tiny bit, or “activate” your eye area. 2. Then relax your jaw into a subtle smile. A good photoshoot has a combination of these smiles mixed with more spontaneous natural smiles.
6. Work on your posture
If you have bad posture, practice standing straight or better yet do exercise that will permanently correct this. Yoga and pilates work wonders. Shoulders that roll forward will limit how many poses you look good doing and it can be hard or impossible to fix this on the day of your photoshoot. Correct your posture and you’ll notice how differently you move, how much more flexible your upper body is, how much more confident and healthy you look and how you breathe more easily.
7. Be well rested
You spend time investing in your long term health and appearance, so don’t let it slip the night before your shoot. Be rested, drink water and don’t scramble to get your things together right before your shoot. Eat a good breakfast. Don’t load up on salt and sugar. Moisturize. Get 8 hours of sleep. And anything else that will keep you looking your best!
There are so many things actors can do to influence a photoshoot to go their way. For that reason, I always emphasize the consultation part of my actor headshots to help actors look and feel like the best version of themselves. If you want to know more about what a shoot with me is like, contact me.