What Are Casting Directors Looking for In Your Headshots in Los Angeles?
This is a great question, so I did a deep internet search and found answers on Backstage and other actor platforms.
A good headshot gives an accurate sense of who you are as an actor and the characters, you might play.
The real job of your headshot is to capture and convey elements of your personality and your brand. Again, your headshot is selling you. You are one-of-a-kind. Your headshot should show that.
You will be identifiable by your headshot, so naturally, you want to look great, right? In fact, maybe it’s time to get a makeover! But hold up just one second. You don’t want to look too good in your headshot
Wait, what? But I thought you just said my headshot should be the best representation of me! It should, and that’s exactly why you want to look like one person, and one person only: yourself. Your headshot has an undeniable physical component: you want to show off your silky hair, your almond-shaped eyes, your high cheekbones, etc. But your headshot is about much more than superficial appearance.
A helpful exercise to do before getting headshots is to make a list of some of your best qualities as an actor: traits you would want to represent as part of your brand. Now ask your friends and colleagues to do the same.
Your headshot should look like you when you walk into a room, so it should represent how you look on a good average day, not necessarily your best day. Unless you’re planning on getting your hair and makeup done professionally for every single audition you go on (unlikely), you should do your makeup as you would on any given day. Natural makeup is best; you want to look like you’re not wearing makeup. Save the glamour shots for your website or your modeling profile.
What You Should Know Before Getting Your Headshots Taken?
Before your headshot session, you need to know what you want to get out of it.
You should have a very clear idea of what you want out of your headshot session. There’s a lot more preparation involved than the obvious.
You want to get your hair and makeup done, but you want to put in a lot of mental preparation as well. What will you be using your headshots for? Which types of roles do you want to play? What types of projects do you aspire to be a part of?
Look at the styles of the TV shows you want to be on. If you’re looking to be a staple on noir shows or late-night crime time, a dark, gritty looking headshot fits that tone. If you aspire to be SNL’s newest cast member or a sitcom darling, a bright, sunny, and goofy shot is a better idea.
Also think about the types of roles you want to play. If you’re going for high-powered executive, you’ll want your hair, makeup, and clothing to reflect that. If you’re going for high school queen bee, you’ll want to make sure your wardrobe and makeup is age appropriate.
What You Should Wear to Your Headshot Photo Shoot?
Actors should wear simple, non-distracting clothing for their headshot photo shoots.
Simplicity is key. The focus in your headshot should be squarely on you, not your clothes. Busy patterns and large, distracting jewelry are a no-go. Bright jewel tones are best: red, blue, green, yellow—any solid, primary color. You know what looks best on you: Pick colors that bring out our eyes and complement your skin tone. Stay away from white (which can wash you out) and black (which can give the illusion of absorbing
light from the rest of the photo).
If you play more buttoned-up characters, you may want to wear a jacket. If you play more free-spirited or open-book characters, feel free to show a bit more skin (though not too much - be careful of wearing clothing that is too revealing - it can take away the focus from your face).
How Many Different Headshot Looks Should You Have?
You should have at least two looks for a headshot session.
It’s standard to have a theatrical, more serious shot, and a smiling commercial
shot showing your teeth. If you have a niche skill or bookable talent, it’s a good
idea to take a few snaps of you in your element. For example, if you are a
bodybuilder, you want to show off your guns. If you’re a musician or a pro athlete, your instrument can play a supporting role.
How Much Does a Headshot Session Cost?
Headshot sessions usually cost between $400—$1,500. You don’t have to break the bank to get a great headshot. However, you don’t want to cut corners either. Remember, your headshot is a direct reflection on you and your professionalism, so it’s worth investing in.
Getting headshots involves more than just taking photos. Be sure to ask for a breakdown of the cost. Most photographers will charge a flat fee for the session itself. However, expect to spend additional money on the following (or ask if they are included as part of the package):
Hair and makeup
Retouching - some photographers do
Different looks (some headshot photographers only include a set number of looks and will charge extra per photo)
Above all look for photographers with great customer reviews who simultaneously fit your budget constraints.
Remember, as an actor you are a business and you should be willing to invest in yourself.
For more information on “Headshots That Land You Auditions”, call me at 213.373.5061 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org