Your agent, the casting director and the director of any production will make decisions on who to cast based on your photograph, even before you get called in for an audition or casting.
Look at the photos you sent your agent. Do your photos represent you in a way that will improve your chances of booking jobs?
What is a headshot? A headshot is the one photograph an actor and his/her agent would select to represent them to prospective clients.
It is what it sounds like: your head is placed quite centrally in the photograph so that it comfortably fills the frame. It is a colour photo with a white background. (Balck and white photos were popular, but a colour photo gives added information – the colour of your hair, eyes and your skintone)
Ideally, you should wear simple clothes that don’t distract and your eyeline is straight into the camera, so that your eyes make contact with the viewer of the photo. A headshot should show your positive energy and charisma. If you don’t connect with the photographer, the camera will show it. Remember, the camera sees what you are thinking.
The headshot must be lit well to show the shape and features of your face and it is important that it looks like you. Photoshopping out a mole or scar, or straightening your teeth is not a good idea on a headshot photo. Just be honest. If they can’t do it on moving footage of you, you shouldn’t be doing it to your headshot.
Have you ever been on an internet date and you meet the person and they look nothing like their online profile photo and you think: well, something special happened when you took that photo – and it must have been five years ago, because, DAMN! and then you realise this person was wasting your time with their dishonest photo and you know that you’re going to block their number on your phone and never speak to them again. The same thing happens with a headshot that doesn’t look like you.
If you have an agent then the first impression prospective employers get of you is often your headshot. If your headshot doesn’t grab your attention, you need to find a photographer you can relate to and have some new photos taken.
Casting directors don’t have time to look past the distracting details to find you – keep it cool, simple and let your face be the focus of your headshot.
Additional photos: Your agent will often ask for several looks, this allows them to match one of your photographs to many more briefs – They can’t send a picture of you in an Hawaiian shirt to a casting for a bank manager. We all know the “casting uniform” that you are encouraged to wear when you start off going to castings, don’t we? Wear a blue shirt, they say, because it helps the camera process your skin tone more accurately. Well, this does make sense, but shouldn’t you also “dress the part”?
Bring three outfits to the photo shoot – they must show different moods. You can also bring a hat or two, maybe a prop or musical instrument that you play well enough to show off.
When you arrive I want you to relax into the space. You should feel calm and comfortable, a little energised and happy to play to the camera. Trust is a big factor in getting a good, engaging photo, so like to meet with my clients over a cup of coffee to discuss their desired outcome for a photo shoot, we can sit down and chat on the day if you prefer.
The background image on this page is made up of cropped versions of cast photographs taken for Protea Productions show based on Oliver Twist, there are 58 portraits that I took during two consecutive nights during rehearsals. You can view the image by clicking here.
- I shoot on a Nikon D5200 Digital SLR Camera with a 55-80 cm lens.
- My main light source is a speedlight and I may incorporate natural light and reflectors.
- I use a fold-up backdrop made of white strech fabric and shoot at a short distance in front of it to control lighting and shadows and ensure that I don’t have to spent much time on clean-ups and deep etching to prepare your photos.
I can shoot in any midsized room as long as the furniture doesn’t get in the way – I have a camera and I’m willing to travel. There will be an additional charge if we shoot in a location outside a 50 km radius of Sunnydale, Cape Town.
I am now a member of the Creative Camera Club, a loose affiliation of amateur and professional photographers whose main purpose is to promote photography as an artform and give photographers an opportunity to learn from eachother and independant judges who are invited to judge photos submitted once a month.