New York – Headshot photography is the art of producing images that are able to charm and make you memorable. You should look natural and open like young actor and playwright Michael Trainer in the picture.
Casting agents and a directors look at your headshot and get a first impression, an opinion, about you. You have one shot and one shot only. A headshot where you're relaxed, self confident, naturally posed and visibly at your ease, is often the image that wins.
Don't worry, a natural looking headshot can be flattering too! The key is in the connection between actor and photographer. An experienced photographer knows you might not feel completely relaxed in front of the camera. He knows how to find a way to diffuse that tension and give you the space and let their beautiful self surface. Let the photographer guide you through the shoot, he knows what he's doing!
The human element comes first then, when you're finally relaxed and comfortable, it's time to use the best photography techniques to highlight your unique strengths.
Good lighting is the key for great actor headshot. I often use different lighting techniques with the same client. This not only produces a final gallery on images that is more varied, but it’s also very distractive and helps you to relax (e.g. I move around, talk, sometimes get tangled in the wires, and this distracts you and provoke a sincere smile).
When it comes to actor headshots, I focus on the perfect light more than I focus on what I can do with PhotoShop. I always say “PhotoShop is a basic human right” and I really believe it is, but I really dislike overdoing it. Overdone Photoshopped images are ugly, and when it comes to actor headshots, they are simply unusable.
An actor headshot is a realistic representation of who you are. Casting agents and directors can easily spot a heavily photoshopped image and their reaction is always the same: distrust. Once trust in the picture is lost, you can forget to receive a call: if they don't trust your image, they can't trust your profile. You don’t stand a chance. You'll end up in the "NO" pile.
I agree that something like a pimple can be photoshopped away. It’s not a permanent feature of your face, it’s not meaningful, it’s certainly not pleasant to look at. But beside the occasion stress pimple, Photoshop should not erase your skin texture, the details and the colours of your face. These are all expressive features that tell a lot about you and any casting professional would look for them or wonder why they are not there. Real people have skin, get over it!
ACTOR HEADSHOTS: ALWAYS GO PROFESSIONAL!
Yes, we can be expensive, but casting directors are professionals who want to work with real professionals. No one wants to mix up with amateurs. If your actor headshots are not professional, it shows that you are not investing in yourself and your career. Why should someone else invest on you?