What is a Headshot? The Basics.

What is a headshot? What is a headshot for?

A headshot is, in most cases, an 8″x10″ photo taken of a model or actor. A headshot commonly encompasses a subject’s head and shoulders, with the focus being almost completely on the subject’s face. However, some “headshots” can often include as much as 3/4 of the subject’s body (called a “three quarter” shot).

If you’re an actor wishing to audition for roles, headshots are an absolutely necessary part of the process.

An 8″x10″ headshot is essentially “a business card for actors” which is presented to casting directors who decide whether a person has the right “look” for a particular part for a role in a movie, tv show, or theatrical part. It is not a “glamour shot”.

A good headshot is intended to market a person “as they are” (you should look your age, for example), but in as positive light as possible, accentuating the subject’s best qualities. A good headshot will often provide the viewer with a glimpse into the person’s character, or show their potential for a particular role a casting director is looking to fill.

Some photographer may claim that their headshots will get you work, but this isn’t entirely true. A good headshots can help you get your foot in the door and called in for an audition, but it won’t get you hired if you can’t follow it up with your acting chops.

A headshot is almost 100{dcffd43726133daeb6db98a6264148e9655107ea582a8464768083791b383b96} of the time the absolute only thing a casting director has to judge you by. And if your headshot isn’t good and grab their attention in about 1/2 of a second, you’ll get passed over without a second chance or a second thought.

What makes a great headshot?

What makes a good headshot?

While there is no magic formula to creating a perfect headshot, and there are exceptions to every “rule”, many of the best headshots have the same things in common…

A good headshot will focus on the subject and only include what is necessary in the photo to show a casting director that you have potential for a part. Nothing in the photo (jewelry, clothing, hairstyle, background, props, etc) will distract the viewer from the main point of interest.

A good headshot will be an accurate and realistic representation of the subject. It won’t make you look younger. It won’t make you look like someone else.

A good headshot will generally “invite” the viewer in and make them want to know more about the subject. This can be done through a combination of lighting, composition, and expression.

A good headshot will avoid overly dramatic (shadowed) lighting. Good headshots are not intended as “fashion shots”. A photo can work perfectly as a fashion shot, but fail miserably as a headshot.

When should you update your headshot?

When should you update your headshot?

You should update your headshot any time your look or, in some cases your personal style, significantly changes from that of your headshot. Your headshot is supposed to be an accurate and realistic representation of what you currently look like. If you have shoulder length hair and you suddenly go for a pixie cut, you need to update your headshot.

How much do headshots cost?

How much do headshots cost?

This is sort of a trick question. Why? Because you can pay a little or a lot for headshots. It just depends on your budget, the quality of the headshots you want, and the number of options you’d like to have, such as: number of “looks”, number of wardrobe changes, number of photos taken, number of hours you wish to shoot, and whether or not you wish to hire a hair stylist or a make-up artist. Different photographers provide different options at different prices.

With that said, for a strictly headshots only shoot, folks should expect to pay between $200 and $400 depending on the photographer and the options provided.

You can always pay less. And, of course, many people want to pay as little as possible for headshots, but truly good headshots are an investment that can easily pay for themselves in the opportunities they create.

You probably don’t buy the absolutely cheapest shoes you can find, so my advice, when shopping around for a photographer is not to pay for the absolutely cheapest photographer you can find either.

Why hiring a professional headshots photographer matters.

Does hiring a professional headshots photographer matter?

If you’re extremely lucky, like to take risks, and can actually find someone who is truly skilled at taking photos and knows how to get the best from the people they work with, then no, hiring a professional photographer may not matter. But for people who are less adventurous and serious about getting great headshots, don’t gamble. Why? Because beyond just getting your photos taken, you should also consider the quality of the “service” provided.

In the very competitive business of acting, any advantage you can give yourself over your competition can be huge.

Who do you think will strive to provide you with better service? The photographer whose livelihood depends on it, or the person who simply has a camera, already has a full-time job, and is simply looking to make a few extra bucks?

Professional photographers who have a name, or are developing a name for themselves, know that reputation and customer referrals are an important aspect of the business. They know that providing a quality service is important. This can mean a lot of things, from looking out for your overall comfort during a shoot to delivering the products you paid for on time.

Don’t underestimate the importance of hiring a professional. It’s not just about having the ability to take a decent photo. A good professional photographer will know how to get you to relax in front of the camera and evoke the best poses and looks out of you, will provide suggestions, and knows how to accentuate your positive features and traits through the lens.

Those who are providing headshots and photography outside of their dayjob typically have much less incentive to give their clients 110{dcffd43726133daeb6db98a6264148e9655107ea582a8464768083791b383b96}.