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Holly Dell

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Headshots - 2.19.10, Revised 3.4.10
By Holly Dell
I've learned several things as an actor and photographer and would like to summerize:
An Actor's headshot MUST LOOK LIKE YOU...when you walk thru the door, right NOW!
Be prepared for your headshot session by knowing who you are and what you represent. More information on branding coming soon...once you know who you are and what you represent it will be easier to select the best wardrobe, pose, expression, etc.
Wardrobe - Prep several items based on the character types you represent. Rehearse in them in front of a mirror before your headshot session! Choose solid colors that do not distract from YOU, but rather enhance your skin tone, eye color and overall look. The shirt must draw attention to your face and especially your EYES. I recommend a button up, solid logo free t-shirt, tank top and business jacket. Whites and Blacks do not photograph the best. Bring 3-5 choices for a range and options to get the photographer's opinion. Make-up should be simple, draw attention to the eyes and be natural, again the best representation of what you look like walking into an audition! Yes men can/should wear coverage (foundation) to hide/minimize blemishes.
Also, pay attention to posture and practice different poses, angles, expressions in the mirror or even take a few test/sample shots by using a tripod and setting your camera to the timer setting (the button that looks like a clock). Review the shots to see what works best for you and what you represent! If you are part of an actor support group, have a headshot day to help prepare for your next shoot. Ultimately you want your expression to be captivating. Something that pulls you out of the stack of maybes into the YES pile! It should show your personality. An accurate description of who you are. I personally get inspired by monologues, music and personal "happy places" so come prepared with things that will evoke emotion from you! Be ready to express! Do your actor warm ups just like you would before an audition, class or on set!
If you have an agent, talk to them about what will help improve your marketing materials. What choices they like the best and find out what Casting Directors, Producers, Directors look for in a headshot and whenever possible how they see you (what roles would they bring you in for, what works about your current shot, what needs to change)! Find/research photographers in your area (including myself) to see who has the best cemestry and style and quality for your needs. Do not just look at price ranges, look at the lighting, composition, ability to capture emotion, etc.
Relax - come ready to shoot - stretch and if you start to feel tense ask for a moment to stretch, especially if you've been in one pose for a long time. It is important to be comfortable in front of the lens...comfortable with who YOU ARE, who you are working with and comfortable with your body! Being prepared is one way to become comfortable.
Have Fun!
Recommended Reading:
Bob Fraser's Headshot Secrets Revealed
Critiques: Your Headshots By Bonnie Gillespie
Excellent examples and insight to what works and what doesn't
The Great Headshot Purge By Bonnie Gillespie
Your Headshot: Bring It By Bonnie Gillespie
The Perfect Headshot By Mark Sikes
(Keep in mind 5 years later, color headshots, especially in AZ seem to be the norm, but Mr. Sikes has a great point about not letting color distract from YOU)