The following blog post has been forwarded from the desk of a casting director. Take note!
Just when we thought everything that could possibly be written about headshots had been written, multiple times (including here), along comes a real shocker: actors' headshots are getting worse. At one time there were about 15 "go to" headshot photographers in New York. Now it seems there are hundreds, but they are no longer considered "go to" types, more "run from" types. These observations and now facts, and have been repeatedly confirmed.
By this time with all the resources and technology available to actors, everyone's headshots should be hand-held masterpieces. How did this downturn happen?
1. With cheap digital cameras readily available, many actors are now having their friends take their headshots. Or doing headshots themselves.
Results: shots that are visibly inferior to ones that were taken by a professional headshot photographer. Has "homemade," "amateur," and "clueless" stamped all over it.
2. Headshots are now being printed through a home printer.
Results: poor printing quality compared to a professional headshot reproduction lab. Black and white shots are becoming amazingly stubborn to eliminate; now we know why. AND, the size of the "headshots?" Not 8x10. Anything but. How about anything goes.
It is common knowledge that a headshot is your calling card to the world. It is the first thing anybody sees about you. It is supposed to open doors, not close them. Agents and casting directors look at a headshot for one second - and the decision has been made to call you in or not. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. You could be the most talented, best looking actor on both coasts, but you may never have a shot at the $60,000.00 commercials if the path to that job is not in place. And the path starts with a headshot.
This is definitely not the area of your career to cut corners. Simply put, a great headshot in the eyes of the Industry - not in the eyes of your friends, family or fellow actors (they don't hire or represent you) - can only be done by a professional headshot photographer. It is a definite art and skill, developed and honed over time. Cheap? Yes and no. The initial cost may seem high, but considering the potential, that headshot could be one of the best investments you could make.
Where are the sources for the great headshot photographers? Not the trades; the "names" don't have to advertise or pay to be listed in special sections that are really masquerading advertising sections. They shoot actors through referrals. Legitimate agents, casting directors, and managers are also a good start.
Promise the world the best headshot that our eyes will ever see. Be easy on the eyes and the Industry will be easy on you.