I cannot tell you how many auditions I’ve gotten from my headshots. Sure, my resume helps. But my photos can turn heads! Is it because I’m devilishly handsome? Nope. I am the least photogenic person I know. So I found a great photographer and practiced being photogenic.
Here are the basics: A headshot is 8″ x 10″, color, and looks exactly like you. Take time to prepare yourself and make the most of your investment. Practice expressions and poses in the mirror and with your own camera. Pick distinct looks. Try thinking of a look as a character. Are you an Oregon mountain man? Rico Suave? Maybe you’re the tough kid in the hood or the boy next door. Imagine these characters for a moment. They don’t dress alike or wear their hair the same, do they? Now you have four looks. Can you portray that many? Of course. You’re an actor. Never wear just one outfit or sit in a single position. This isn’t the yearbook. You want a variety of shots to pick from. If you’re a dancer add ¾ length and sleeveless shots to show your figure.
Do the research. Ask who your friends used. If you ask an agent or manager they should recommend at least three people they like. Then I go to that photographer’s website to see their work. I look for vibrant colors; a range of expressions and looks; eye-cathing photos. If you are just starting out–or strapped for cash–find people building their headshot portfolios. This is an excellent way to practice and you’ll likely spend less than $100 on the session. But remember … that’s still just the sitting fee.
Let me break it down for you. The price for the photographer’s time and talent (sitting fee): $200-$800. Make-up and hair artist (who you’ll want): $100-$300. Rights to your photos: $50 each. First one is often included. This means you have permission to use your headshot wherever whenever for life. You should never have to “rent” rights for a year. Printing costs from $75 for 50 shots to $99 for 300 shots. Shop around. Look for return customer incentives. I love Rocket Repro in Vancouver, my prints are always flawless. In LA I use Spotlight Printing & Imaging, inexpensive and good quality. A photographer may recommend a printer, but make sure you have a digital copy of your headshots offline, and are free to go to any printer you choose. Above all else, never get pressured into buying headshots. I once was told “You need to take new headshots right now!” That’s how I landed some bad headshots and lost money. I’ve learned the hard way so you don’t have to!
Now go be a success! If you’re wondering my headshots are from Kevin Clark Photography (Vancouver). I have friends that love Melinda Kelley(LA) and Peter Hurley (NYC and LA).