When I was an actor getting my headshots was a big part of my career. Whenever a job finished, or I had some money through from a job or repeat fees I would book in for photos. If I got a hair cut or recently lost weight, I would book a new session.
Headshots are a tax deductible expense, also something I could talk to my agent about, a reason to contact my list of casting directors – “hey heres my new headshot”. And it gave me a boost. The experience of spending that time with the photographer, focusing on who I was as an actor and what I wanted to give off, and then going through the contact sheets and marking off the photos I wanted retouched – that was time to really feel like an actor.
This is a career path where you may only get to act for 10 days in a year, or a block of 3 months and then nothing and then 2 days on something. So taking the time to update your CV, get photos done, attend a class, is time you can take to be an actor. And its so important. That’s where you prepare yourself for your next audition or self tape. If you haven’t booked a job this year and then you get a self tape request… how are you meant to muster up those skills and techniques…. That’s like doing an hours work out in the gym after not doing any exercise for 6 months. You’re not going to have a great session! Same applies for auditions if you’ve not thought like an actor in a while.
In my day (that phrase!) Spotlight was a book and you updated it once a year so at the very least I would get new headshots in time for the Spotlight deadline each year.
These days you can have 16 photos on your Spotlight and you can update it anytime and its immediately uploaded for everyone to see. Wow. That’s instant marketing right there.
For younger actors a headshot session is time to take direction, listen, focus on looking into a camera and being ok with that. Being ok with the focus being on you and grabbing that opportunity to express yourself.
Its not about your outfit, its about your face. Its not about your make up, its about your expression and the intensity in your eyes. Its not about your hair, its about how you hold yourself.
Each photo shoot you’ll learn more and relax more, I hope.
And when you get the photos back, don’t judge yourself. Scan through them. Then leave them. Come back to them later with fresh eyes.
Don’t choose just the photos that your mum thinks you look pretty or handsome in. Choose the ones that say something interesting.