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What is a Good Headshot?

Too often, actors pick great photos that make terrible headshots. A headshot should reveal the personality of the actor, not the lighting skills of the photographer. In modelling, the images are about the product–the lighting, angle, mood, etc. are all adjusted to reveal the product in the most marketable way, and the model is there as another means to do just that. In an actor’s headshot, the product is the actor. Every decision that is made about the photo should be to reveal the actor in his or her best light. This is why actors should be wary of photographers who always shoot the same setup, regardless of the actor being photographed.

Actors are creative artists. No doubt about it. But they are unique in the creative arts–their physical personage is the tool with which they create. In the world of professional acting, this means the actor must understand the way he is perceived by his or her audience, and therefore the people who are hiring actors to entertain that audience. If you are perceived as a character type, you shouldn’t be looking for sexy leading role headshots. If you are a leading man or woman, you need to make sure your headshots support that vision.

Every actor wants to play a range of roles. As a performer, I understand that desire. But with universities, schools, private training programs, and personal coaching turning out record numbers of trained actors (who all invariably head to NYC), the days of “stretching” into a role are very nearly gone (except for celebrities).

You can use this to your advantage!

Agents and casting directors love actors who know their strengths, and who tailor their marketing materials to them (it makes their jobs easier). When you plan your headshots to take advantage of your strengths, you set yourself up for success.

Quick Answers to Headshot Questions:

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