Is your headshot working for you?
Your beautiful headshot
Its all very well having a beautifully lit and composed headshot of yourself but is it actually doing its job, that is getting you through the door? 95% of the time it is your picture that gets you into a proper audition for film and TV. Your headshot markets your brand, not your talent. Your brand gets you through the door. Its your talent gets you the job.
Is your headshot doing its job?
Here are some simple things that you can do to find out if your headshot is working for you.
If you have an agent then ask them for a submissions list. That is everything you have been submitted for a period of say 2 months. Check the list and disregard commercial auditions, low or unpaid work, fringe, cruises and T.I.E. Target just film and television. These are auditions that your picture becomes the key to open that door. Make sure what you have been submitted for is suitable for your brand and that your headshot reflects that. Actors need to understand their brand to make the most of the way they present themselves to CD’s. Its really important that your picture reflects your brand/visual stereotype. Don’t believe me ? Then check out this video from a top American CD.
Lets say you have been submitted 10 times for suitable role types in the last 2 months but you have not had a single audition. Guess what. You headshot is not working. Its obvious, because at this point no one has seen your talent. The only marketing/presentation they have seen of you is your headshot and that is not unlocking the door.
Think like a casting director
CD’s are casting role types. They have breakdowns of characters that they need actors for. This is why its so important to understand your brand. You need to know where you fit in and your headshot needs to mirror that.
You might think your headshot looks great but you are working in isolation viewing only your headshot and how it relates to you. CD’s on the other hand are always working by comparison. They see 100’s and 1000’s of headshots so how well does your picture stacks up against the others?
If your headshot has worked and has got you into the audition room then there is more you can discover about your how your headshot markets you. Check anything the CD might have said about your headshot. Saying nothing is usually good, it means that you have turned up looking like your picture, but if you get a negative comment such as “I was expecting someone older/younger”, “I thought your hair was longer/shorter”, “Your are a little lighter/darker that I for your ethnicity”, “You look taller/smaller/bigger/ than your picture” all of these should give you cause to worry since the CD was expecting someone different walking through their door and the last thing you want to do is disappoint your CD. You are giving a false impression of your brand which could be costing you casting oppurtunities that your right for.
Try a different style of headshot
If your headshot is not getting you seen then change it. Most of the top headshot photographers will shoot 2,3,4 different styles for you during the course of the session. Choose a different style and then monitor how you get on.
There is no magic bullet in getting you into castings but if your headshot is not up to standard then you are giving yourself no chance.
John is a founder member of the Association of Professional Headshot Photographers