How do I Find a Photographer?
If you are an aspiring actor, one of the first things I would recommend is finding an excellent photographer in your area (or travel to someone) who can take nice photos of you (both head and full body shots). Do some Googling. Ask fellow actors in your area who they use. You want a professional photographer, not a “GWC” (Known in the modeling world as “Guy with Camera”- someone you want to avoid) You want the photos to look nice, but you also need them to LOOK LIKE YOU. If your headshot makes you look one way and you show up to an audition or casting looking completely different… those casting directors won’t be happy campers. That means that every time you change your hair, grow facial hair, or make any other modifications to your head/face area… get new photos taken. You don’t want to give out a headshot of you with long, blonde hair when you recently chopped it all off and dyed it blue. Like it or not, looks play a major part in the acting world. Your acting could be superb, but your looks can make or break you getting cast. For your headshot, I would wear little to no makeup so casting directors can see you as a “blank canvas” (same as modeling!)
This is the my current headshot. Notice the plain black background. I prefer it so that I’m the main focus of the photo (selfish, I know 😉 ).
“Selfies”… Say What?
I’ve also noticed in the acting world is that more and more casting directors are asking for “selfies” (AKA pictures you take of yourself). Why? Probably because they’ve been burned before by people showing up looking nothing like their headshot. This doesn’t mean take a selfie using the latest Snapchat filter.
It means you need to take a photo of yourself looking exactly how you are. I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m submitting for casting calls, I don’t look “photo ready.” In fact, I’m usually in pajamas, just relaxing. I’m not ready for a photo! My solution: Have a gorgeous, no filter, little to no makeup, professional, clean background, RECENT selfie available to send to castings THAT REQUEST IT. I would not send a selfie to a casting call that did not specifically note that they wanted one… That looks unprofessional.
Black and White or Color?
I’ve seen it debated on whether or not to send a black and white headshot or a color one… Based on my experience, I’d say that color is your best bet. That way, casting directors can see exactly how you look. I’ve never had to send a black and white headshot, but that doesn’t mean that all casting directors are using color. If it’s at all possible to get one color and one black and white headshot from your photographer (without breaking the bank), go ahead and do it, just in case. It seems as though black and white headshots have gone out of style in recent years.
How do I Send My Headshot?
There are a few options for sending headshots to casting directors. There’s the “old-school” method of mailing a physical copy. Sometimes, it will be requested, especially from an agency. I would have some Priority Mail envelopes and some printed out 8″x10″ copies of your headshot handy for moments like that.
There’s also simply emailing them to casting directors. If I’m applying to an acting job online, they will always ask for your headshot and resume. Have the file available as both a JPEG and a PDF. I’ve had headshots requested with both these file types before.