ACTOR HEADSHOT Q&A

 

 

Q. What's the function of an actor headshot?

A.  A headshot is an actor's business card. It's the photo you give to casting directors, have on your social media, and use for the playbill. It should show personality, confidence, and approachability.

Q. What does a director want to see in a headshot?

A. There are three people involved in your headshot: the director, you, and me.

The director doesn't want surprises -- he/she wants to see a photo that looks like you, a good current photo with good lighting that is clearly representative of the you right now.

You want a photo that is flattering and is going to get you auditions.

I am a connection between you and the director. What do you want the director to know about you? How can you show that in your face? Think about these things as you prepare for your headshot.

Q. How can I prepare for my headshot?

A. Know your face. Practice in the mirror. 

Look at actor headshots online. What do you like about your favorite ones -- the lighting? the expression? the background? the pose? What are actors wearing in their headshot?

Q. What should I wear?

A. The clothes you wear for your headshot should be comfortable, flattering, and neutral. Clothes are another way to subtly say who you are, but they should suggest it, not shout it. Your face is the star of the show. Clothes should not compete for attention. Things to avoid: t-shirts with writing, shiny or frilly clothes, big, bold patterns, and plunging necklines. Neutral colors are a pretty safe bet, but your clothes don't have to be boring. Textured tops, and colors that complement your eye color can be very effective.

Q.​ What should I bring to my headshot session?

A. Extra clothes. If you have any doubt about what shirt or top would be good for a headshot, bring it! It is far better to bring lots of choices than to have just one choice. 

Hairbrush/comb, chapstick, eyedrops. Whatever makes you look good.

Payment. I take cash, check, and online PayPal.  :)

Q. What about professional make-up? 

A. There are two schools of thought here. One is that by hiring a make-up artist you get professional results, and thereby, a more professional looking headshot. The other is that you probably won't have a make-up artist every time you audition, so it's better to do your own make-up. I'm on the fence. On the one hand, an 8x10 is going to be scrutinized more closely than your face at an audition. On the other hand, a make-up artist may make choices that you wouldn't make if you were doing your own. In a perfect world, you would learn how to do a professional job of doing your own make-up and hair.

Q. How long does a headshot session last?

A. The Headshot Lite is a 15-minutes session. A full session can take an hour or more.

Q. I have an audition in two days -- do you do rush jobs?

A. Yes

Q. You use a white background for most of your photos -- what's up with that? Do you have other background colors?

A. Casting directors still look at 8x10 prints, but they're also looking at thumbnail size images -- lots of them -- online. A white background is going to make your headshot stand out compared to ones where the background is busy. I also have a black background and a few other colors. 

Q. There are photos I know you took that aren't in my gallery -- what happened?

A. When I edit your photos, I take out the blinks, and the out of focus shots, and then I go through and remove the ones where the poses or lighting just didn't work. I try to catch that when I'm shooting, but sometimes only catch it in the editing process.

Q. What do you retouch in a photo?

A. I retouch non-permanent features -- flyaway hairs, blemishes, dust on a jacket. I also might soften wrinkles if a I feel a make-up artist or different lighting would have made those less noticeable. I'm fairly conservative when it comes to retouching. It's a balance of flattering and realistic. If you have strong feelings about retouching, please let me know!

Q. Where can I get prints?

A. You can print them yourself, at a retail outlet, online, or I can make prints for you (an advantage if you have a rush job for an audition!). See my "Making an Appointment" page for my current print prices: http://www.cynthiadegrand.com/actor-headshots

Q. What ages of actor do you shoot?

A. All ages.

Q. I've seen 8x10s with the actor's name on the front -- is that necessary?

A. It's not necessary, but it it does insure that if your resume and headshot should become separated, that the director knows whose photo it is. 

Q. How should I attach the 8x10 headshot and the resume?

A. Put them back to back, and staple them in the corners