In one of the most difficult and saturated industries in the world, you simply can not afford to slack with your marketing. With over 80% of actors either out of work or performing crazy hours in basement fringe venues, for just enough money to pay their gas bill, self marketing is an absolute essential.
Over the years we have met many actors both established and new, looking to create the perfect headshot. Defining ‘perfect’ as that shot that will make them stand out from the crowd and be seen for the right castings. Having worked quite closely with many casting directors, we understand what works and we have endeavored to help those who shoot with us not just to create a headshot but an image that promotes them in the right way.
It’s true that all actors fall into categories based on their appearance, experience and voice quality, however, unless your appearance is one that suits your casting, you won’t get ‘in the room’ and the latter may never be discovered. This is why a headshot that truly encapsulates both your look and an element of image is invaluable. Those who are aware of their casting bracket tend to be far better at self marketing than those who cast a wide net, approaching every advert possible. The key to marketing, as in any industry is to know your niche/ bracket. Once you have developed enough as an actor to know where you fit in, it’s far easier to create the right headshot, showreel and find the right agent for you.
A great example of the importance of your main headshot is how Casting directors view suggestions on Spotlight. Not many actors are aware of how these submissions appear to a casting director, but this process further reinforces the utter necessity of having the right headshot on your profile. When they release a casting, usually each part/ job receives thousands of applicants to sift through and all they see on their screen is loads of headshots along with anything written in the comments box. If they like your look, they may click on your headshot and view your CV. They will then highlight you if they wish to shortlist you for the casting. So the revelation… all they see is headshots! Without a good headshot, your profile may not even be viewed and you could be perfect for a casting but most certainly be overlooked.
Like most industry standards headshots have evolved. Years ago they needed to be black and white, they could be shot on any angle and needed to be printed 8” X 10” so they could be displayed on your agents wall! The vast array of soft focus glamour shots that looked nothing like the actor must have been so frustrating for the casting directors. In each casting, waiting for a young Audrey Hepburn to walk in and meeting today’s Joan Collins. Needless to say misrepresenting photos of this kind probably wasted a great deal of time! American headshots were originally the same but quite quickly became precisely the opposite. Their headshots had to be in colour and straight on so a face can not be cheated with angles. This style of photography gives a casting director a much clearer idea of your appearance. This is now also true over here and has been for many years. Even a headshot on an angle is not ideal if you don’t have one that is square on as your main image. With the British and American film industry being so interlinked we now have very similar casting methods with the headshot being absolute key to booking those castings.
So! all that in mind… What actually does make the ‘perfect’ headshot. There are so many opinions on the matter but we’ve found the key to be simplicity. The perfect headshot is in colour, impeccably lit, with a simple background with the main focus being a strong straight on shot of you. Nothing overly posed or angled, no distracting backgrounds or garish colours, no Photoshop or filters. All they want to see is a clear depiction of you. Two or three headshots on your profile is great with varying looks from smart to casual and for those with longer hair, two looks is a nice variation, but your main shot needs to be strong and simple. The Vanity Studios headshot page speaks for itself, all shots are uniform and simple but eye catching and magnetic to its viewer.