Did you already read so many headshot pieces of advice and confused?
A typical headshot advice is written by a headshot photographer as their marketing material. They are nothing wrong about that, but the opinions are heavily influenced by the preference of the particular photographer, or views among that particular circle of people. Some advice comes from acting teachers and casting directors, but their way of looking at headshot often misses how photography experience is different with today’s digital technology. So, there are always some variations of advice and recommendations. Prepare well but do not over analyze.
I’m not worried about maximizing signups. I’m more interested in producing excellent results, and for that end, it is important to work with people with at least some (non-zero) experience.
Advice: you need a professional headshot now!
You were probably told this many times, and this may be a part of why you are checking out this website. A good businessman agrees immediately and takes your money, no question. I’d rather say and do things that make sense, even if it sounds a bit more than a usual advice than being a pure businessman. (I earn a living doing this, but I’m also an artist, after all.) So, I usually ask one question before signing people up.
Do you have an acting resume?
Is should be at least 1/3 page full with something. If you do, skip the rest and sign up for your headshot session.
If you don’t have one, Google search “how to make an acting resume” and start drafting your resume now. You’ll also find resume stuffing materials by Google searching for local stage work, school productions, and local film production community websites. Craigslist gigs section is often useful. Student film, local business sales pitch video on youtube, tourist guide video for your local municipalities, nonprofits who need to create video contents, voice acting work, whatever. At this stage, it is more useful to work with patient and helpful people than impatient people who pay money to get their job done.
This is important for you because:
1. If you have a professional headshot and no experience in the resume, you’ll look skeptical.
2. If you don’t have any experience, you probably don’t understand yourself well enough to embody the characters you’ll be cast for.
3. If you shoot headshot before some experience, you’ll grow out of it fast and will be re-shooting soon.
If you understand that, and you still have to shoot headshot now, just tell me so, and no further questions asked. I’m glad to take your headshot. I’m just suggesting a way you get more value for the same price.
Isn’t it a chicken and egg problem?
One good thing about student production and no name theaters is that they can’t be too picky about everything. Take the best effort amateur headshot for now. Those people tend to check out your social media or meet in person if they have any interest, anyway. Another good thing about working with those people is that they are helpful. It’s always good to know actors who’ve been, in the recent past, where you are, and growing together.
When your resume improved somewhat, it’s time to invest in the best quality headshot to get to the next level. You’ll get a lot more value out of your money at that point. Don’t over stretch an amateur photo, no matter how good it is. You’ll need a real headshot before going to casting for real productions.
Then, you’ll have the experience and the headshot, both of which together make you credible. You will be taking out those resume stuffing and adding the real experience in the resume while getting paid.
Keep in mind
Actor headshot is not about looking cool or fancy. It is about giving casting director confidence that you won’t disappoint them.
An advice from a casting director...
Among many actor advice videos from casting directors on youtube, I think this one has the key elements in one package. If you want to watch just one video, this is it. (Note: I don't have any relationship with Amy Jo Berman. I just did some research for you.) She emphasizes the importance of knowing your character so that you can line yourself up with the role being cast for, starting at 2:15. This is absolutely true.