I’ve been shooting portraits of artists for over 13 years. Prior to that I was a make-up artist and stylist for various LA photographers. Prior to that I was at New York University photographing the angst, edge and avant-garde that is strictly found in Greenwich Village! I come to you with a well-rounded and vain eye in the area of the performing arts.
So here is my viewpoint…
You can get into casting doors just with a great picture alone! I’m serious! I recently spent over 2 years as an agent at a top Los Angeles talent agency, and the shots that we called actors in from were technically great and the talent looked relaxed, confident and approachable. Don’t scare people off with too much intensity, especially if you’re trying to get your start in commercials. I don’t look at photos in terms of theatrical and commercial but more in terms of different attitudes and character portrayals. Even TV and film casting directors appreciate a great warm believable smile and twinkle in the eyes for certain roles they need to cast. As an agent, I made sure my talent had at least these looks:
- a professional business look (hair down is fine – don’t be too stiff)
- a shot in a form-fitting spaghetti strap shirt to see your body type
- an intense more serious shot – “she’s confident and put-together” (which doesn’t mean lots of make-up and hair spray)
- a sweater-type approachable collegiate or young mom look
- probably 2 business looks – jacket not always necessary, tie can be loose,
- a blue shirt is always a good idea,
- an unshaved look (either sexy or slacker – whichever you become!) and
- colored t-shirts a-la the weekend dad or the hip Volkswagon-Dorito eating-Los Feliz guy.
Layers are great, like t-shirt, sweater, jacket. “Spoon-feed” your casting type with subtly specific shots: doctor, yoga instructor, waitress, military etc.
With Internet casting your headshot has only a 2 X 2 inch format to get the agent or casting director’s attention. Pictures too shadowy and dark or too far away from your face tend to diffuse the impact. Have variety in your repertoire of photos, but make sure you have a bright crisp close-up headshot where they can tell what color your eyes are.
Like with any purchase, get a few quotes on photographers. The cheapest isn’t always the way to go. Look at their website, TALK to the photographer, if only briefly. Make sure they guarantee their work. Make sure their website is current. Images of beautiful faces with vacuous eyes get passed over. Talented comedians, who have their “funny” stifled in a shot, do them NO good.
Be well rested and well fed before a shoot. It does wonders for your attitude. You can retouch stained teeth, or a zit but you can’t retouch confidence into the eyes. You and your photographer need to CREATE that attitude during the shoot.
Your headshot should be creatively unique – that means that’s the kind of actor YOU are. Take a chance, be bold and the agent or casting director will perceive that and expect your acting style to be just as confident… and your phone will start to ring!!!!