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Starting at Zero: Headshots

Setting Goals: p.1
What to Expect: p.2
Finding a Photographer: p.3
Cost: p.4
Dos and Don'ts: p.5
Getting Ready: p.6
The Shoot: p.7
Your Proofsheets: p.8
Makin' Copies: p.9
Headshots Online?: p.10

Make Your Headshot Goal-Oriented

Before you have your headshots taken, you should consciously formulate your goals. Ask yourself the following two questions:

  • What am I going to use this headshot for? Certainly, one purpose for your headshot goal is simply to have something to provide at auditions or with mailed submissions. But you may also want to pursue a specific type of performing that this headshot can help with. For example, if decide that you're going to be seeking commercial work, you may want to gear your headshot toward that goal by having more "smile shots" taken. Conversely, if you're only going after Shakespearean lead roles, you'd probably want the headshot to reflect the more serious aspects of your personality. Or you may want to split the difference and adapt the look of your headshot to encompass an approachable yet more thoughtful look. In any event, it makes sense to reflect a little prior to meeting with your photographer, so you'll know just what to ask for.

  • What product am I selling? Performing artists often talk about the fact that the product they have to sell is themselves. But such conversation rarely gets any more specific than that. But when getting ready to market your product , you need to be precise about what it is you're selling and then use the headshot to help sell it. Are you a comic actor? Are you a musician who needs photographs for publicity? If you're going after high-fashion modeling, you're going to have a different headshot than if you're an actor. And, once again, a headshot for an actor who is exclusively seeking sitcom work will be different from one for an actor who specializes in O'Neill drama. The more specific you can get, the better.

This is not to say that your headshot can't be general enough to cover more than one base. But unless you define in advance what those bases are, you won't be able to convey what your needs are to your photographer nor will you be able to evaluate your proof sheets once you get them.

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What to Expect

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