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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

Some Dos and Don'ts ... Mostly Don'ts

Here's a list of general dos and don'ts regarding headshots:

  • No Kodak Moments. Whatever you do, don't use snapshots. We'd even go so far as to say, don't use a snapshot even if the folks you're auditioning for say it's o.k. to use a snapshot. Snapshots are for family vacations and for taking pictures of your pets, not for professional use. Even if you're just starting out and you're asked for a photograph, you do yourself a disservice by providing only a snapshot.

  • No Xerox Moments, Either. Don't use photocopies. While agents and casting directors often pass photocopies or fax copies of your headshot among themselves, it looks really unprofessional (and/or cheap) if you provide only a photocopy of your headshot.

  • No Glamour Shots. Don't use Glamour Shots, Olan Mills, Sears Portrait Studio or any other chain photographer for your headshots. While such photographers might suit your needs for family pictures, you won't be taken seriously if you show up at an audition with one of these in tow. And when you're first starting out, while you may not have Annie Liebovitz clamoring to do your headshots, there are plenty of reputable, talented photographers who can.

  • Act Your Age. Don't try to get your headshot to make you look younger (or older) than you really are. You won't be doing yourself any favors. As soon as you meet with the casting people, they'll be able to tell that you're 40 trying to look 25 (or 16 trying to look 25).

  • Mind Your Character. Be careful about having headshots taken in character. Don't lock yourself into such a specific look that you limit yourself in other ways. If you get headshots taken with a specific character look (such as country bumpkin or city slicker, hooker or schoolgirl, diva or down-and-dirty), you narrow your appeal. You might know that you'd make the best Tom Joad in the world, but if you have your headshot taken as Tom Joad, you're not going to be considered for roles that require sophistication or elegance. You're much better off being generic and leaving the specifics up to the imagination of the casting people. When you get called in for the "Grapes of Wrath" audition, then you can prove what a great Tom Joad you'd make.

  • Use Black and White. Headshots, for the most part, are still shot in black and white. It's a convention that really is a holdover from a bygone era. So, while color headshots may be technically possible, they're still not the preferred tool of the trade. If you're assembling a group of photographs to use in a modeling portfolio, by all means use some that are in color. But for your run-of-the-mill basic headshot, black and white photography is still preferred.

  • Be Yourself. Remember that people want to see you in a headshot, the real you, the truest version of you - not how vast and exotic your wardrobe is or how many funny faces you can make.

More ...
Getting Ready

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