Is your headshot really that important? What is the deal? Why are people shelling out thousands of dollars, hiring professional makeup artists, and purchasing an entire new wardrobe for a couple of close-ups? Will a business headshot work? What about a yearbook photo?! The truth is: headshots are absolutely that important, but they don’t have to be that difficult. Headshots are more than a pretty picture, more than an ID card, and more than the back of your resume. Headshots have always, and will always be an important piece of the actor’s toolkit. We’re here to clear up confusion, reduce your headshot anxiety, and share our best advice on this forever-hot topic.
We would love to tell you that talent is all that matters, but that simply isn’t true. Once you’re “in the room”(in front of the casting director), your talent can take centerstage. But to get in that room, you need a great headshot, a strong resume, and usually some hardworking representation. To cast the pilot of Friends in 1994, casting director Ellie Kanner looked at more than one thousand headshots for each of the six lead roles. That’s 6000 headshots! Only 75 actors were brought in to audition for each role. In this example, only around 8% of actors got auditions, based on their headshot alone! If that statistic doesn’t make you want a killer headshot, nothing will!
So, what makes a great headshot? You’ll hear lots of different answers to this question. Here are the basic headshot requirements:
Shot by a professional photographer in high-resolution.
No distracting colors or patterns in the background or wardrobe.
Shows at least 90% of your face.
Retouched and color-corrected.
Beyond these basic requirements, you want your headshot to be over-the-top and cream-of-the-crop. Achieving the “it” factor takes personality. An empty smile may look fine in a yearbook, but it won’t help you snag auditions. If your headshot photographer is good, they’ll help pull the personality out of you and into the photo. Trust them, and have an open mind during your session. Try new things. Get silly, get serious, get smiley, get smirky! The more variety you have, the likelier you are to find “The One”.
What about makeup? It is highly recommended that people of all genders wear at least a small amount of makeup for their headshots; this eases the editing process and protects you from looking over-edited in your final shots. Most people have their makeup done professionally, but those with years of makeup experience should feel free to do their own. It is vital that you communicate with your makeup artist openly. You should look like the best version of you in your headshots...but still YOU. If you never wear eyeliner in your real life, don’t have the makeup artist give you a cat-eye!
How much is too much? The price of headshots varies greatly. Beginner photographers may charge very low rates, sometimes under $100, while seasoned photographers have been known to charge astronomical amounts. Picking a headshot photographer is extremely personal. Some people have a strong connection to their photographer and are willing to pay whatever it takes to work with them; others choose to be thrifty. It is important to remember that an expensive headshot does not always equal a good headshot. Always do thorough research prior to booking!
Headshots at AVS
Acting and Voice Studios offers headshot packages on a regular basis with top photographers. We knew our students often struggled to find good, affordable headshots. We decided to make the process easier for you. We evaluate our photographers in advance to make sure their work is outstanding. We negotiate prices and provide the studio space. You get to show up, have fun, and come away with a showstopping headshot. To see our current headshot packages, visit the “headshots” tab on our website’s main menu.
Written by Emily Richardson