Can Actors’ Headshots be taken by Fashion or Portrait Photographers?
Different genres of photography but can photographers offer them all?
Photographers tend to specialise. There are many talented photographers out there for you to choose from but selecting one that understands what a headshot is, especially if you’re an actor or a model, is a very important decision.
Getting a headshot that is professional and engaging will give you a better chance at being noticed and making that good first impression. Your primary headshot should be taken by a photographer that specialises in headshots and that has plenty of experience.
You should choose a photographer that is well versed with headshot requirements. Generally, a headshot photographer will be aiming to get standout headshot images for your casting profiles and will be set up ready for this purpose. Getting other styles of shots like full-lengths, or a more fashionable shot may take extra time, planning and set up, so it’s worth discussing any additional requirements ahead of time.
So, what are the differences in headshot photography specialisms? Can’t photographers do them all?
A headshot is what the word suggests. The focus is on your face which is generally facing forward, well-lit and without any distractions from your subtle expression and eye contact. Items such as jewellery or clothing patterns take the focus away from your headshot. Casting directors are looking for the canvas they can work with so the headshot should be a true representation of what you look like day to day at that point in time and have a natural but engaging feel to them.
A portrait also focusses on the head and shoulders, but the rules are looser when it comes to posing, expressions, locations, clothing and lighting and eye contact and retouching. The photographer can be more artistic, and the subject’s personality can be turned up a notch or two and their personal style can really shine through.
A fashion portrait would be waist upwards and will be showcasing the creation of the hairstylist, the make-up artist, the designers and/or a product. The model will generally be transformed from their usual day to day selves, so it does not give a clear indication of what they truly look like.
You certainly will find talented photographers than can offer all these styles of photography and have lots of experience in all. But if it’s not obvious that they are experienced with actors’ headshots you really need to do some research and ask more questions. Your headshot will be one of your most important marketing tools. So, invest wisely!
So why is it really so important to get a headshot right?
Getting a professional headshot will save you time, money and any potential frustration at a lack of auditions or castings. Create a good impression. A non-industry standard headshot will mark candidates out as amateurs or lacking experience and insight into the industry. Do some research about your photographer and see who they have photographed and who recommends them, just like you would with any trade.
Headshots seem to be taken with all sorts of backgrounds indoors and outdoors. Which is industry-standard then?
There are no set rules here. Different agencies will sometimes have preferred photographers and there will be times where certain photographers will be more popular than others. Also, headshots can go through trends and also casting directors will have their own recommendations about what they want to see in a headshot. The main advice would be to choose a headshot photographer that will understand what is required and give you excellent results and in a style that resonates with your own taste.
How do I choose the right Photographer?
Headshot Hunter is a great way to choose a headshot photographer. You can set your area, budget and specialism parameters and then compare your favourite photographers. Many will also have reviews on Headshot Hunter but look for Google reviews for example also. Check reviews and study the photographer’s website and maybe email them some questions and see if you click. A good photograph is a collaboration between the client and the photographer so it’s important to feel comfortable with them. You can contact photographers directly via the Headshot Hunter website too.
Does this mean that the cool fashion shoot I did or that lovely portrait my family paid for is useless now?
Not at all, and I am sure they are fantastic images. But, on your casting sites your first few images should be professional headshots. After that, a couple of other shots to show your range, size and character can be useful if casting decides to click further than your main image – which is the most important one.
Will my photographer help me prepare and guide me during the shoot?
In my experience of course! Most photographers have their own FAQ guides and videos on their websites about the shoot experience. I like to have a little dialogue leading up to the shoot, firstly to get to know each other and also to help us both prepare. I will ask things about how your wardrobe hunt is going and what you will be bringing. I will make sure I understand exactly who and what the shoot is for and I will also ask for any inspiration examples to ensure that I and the client are on the same page. Some clients will be very specific such as ‘I only want natural light shots’ or ‘I only want indoor shots on plain grey studio backdrop’. This is fine and it helps me prepare and meet expectations. If I also know what sort of clothes the client is bringing it also helps ensure the shots are going to look current, professional and that the client has plenty of variety and choice from the shoot.
A passionate and professional photographer should be willing to help get the best results possible and help put you at ease. A headshot session should be a pleasant experience.
No matter how great images may seem to be not all photographs and photographers translate to a professional headshot. Industry professionals will notice straight away.
Do some research, ask around and talk to the photographer about what you need and find out their specialisms before booking. If you’re looking to get ahead in the industry book a Headshot Photographer and it will help you get noticed.
For further help on what to wear, how to pose and everything else you need to know about headshots, see this Headshot Hunter article “Actors Headshots – Everything You Need to Know”
Rebecca Knowles specialises in Headshots, Portraits, Fine Art and Fashion Photography. With a studio based in the countryside near Lutterworth, Leicestershire, Rebecca has been a photographer for 15 years. You won’t often see her without her camera! Prior to this she has had a variety of jobs including TV Extra, Farmer, Barmaid… It took her a while to find her thing! For more info check her out on Headshot Hunter or view her website at www.rebeccaknowles.co.uk