To understand what agents and managers are looking for in a headshot, it is first important to understand the purpose of a headshot. Let’s break down the journey that your headshot will go on.
First, your photos will be taken by a photographer. Next, you will show your pictures to your agents and managers. They will give you input on their favorites. After they give you input, you will upload your choice photos to casting sites and also have 8 x 10 copies printed. Once they are uploaded, your agents and managers will begin submitting them to breakdowns. Casting directors then look through 1000’s of submissions for each of the roles they are trying to cast. The closer an actor’s shot is to the type of character they are looking for, the better your chance is to be brought in for an audition. Casting directors have so many small thumbnails to look at, so it is very important that your shot be clear and crisp and pop off the page. Listed below are some things your headshot should reflect:
•You should not have a busy background that distracts from your face. Instead of focusing on a palm tree or an out of focus building, Alan prefers to use solid backgrounds. With his technique, there is no doubt that your face will be the focal point of your headshot.
•Your headshot should reflect the brand or type of role you are auditioning for. An instant read on your personality type should be obvious. One minute you can look like the gal next door, and the next minute Alan can transform you into a tough chick. The 2 pictures below show the same actress with 2 different looks that Alan was easily able to achieve through his unique lighting skills. Photographers that use natural lighting have a more difficult time accomplishing this.
•You should look natural with light makeup for your commercial shots. No glam shots (unless that is your type.) Natural makeup is more effective in presenting a real looking human being. Makeup is adjusted for each look to step up your look and Alan uses different lighting to create the feeling you are going for. With natural lighting, you will often look like the same character, just with more makeup on.
•Agents don’t want you to look like you have obviously used too much retouching. Retouching is important, but it should be soft. It should only enhance your best features, not change your look. The correct retouching will also help pop your photo’s color correctly and make it look more polished.
•Your eyes should be prominent and convey a message. They need to have a clearly defined emotion that shows you understand the casting. While casting directors look through thousands of pretty pictures, you will stand out if there is something going on behind your eyes. Your eyes need to make a connection with the viewer. Alan knows how to work with you to capture the exact look in your eyes that will make you stand out.
•Most importantly, your headshot should look exactly how you look in person. Your expression should be natural and not exaggerated. There is nothing worse to a casting director than having an actor walk into a room, looking nothing like their headshot. Just be YOU.
•Your headshot is the most important tool you can have. Take the time to follow these tips to make sure it works for you!