Nancy Berwid, the founder and acting teacher of First Take; provides teaching and coaching for aspiring actors so that they can advance in their careers while in Los Angeles. Nancy, who is known best for her insight about the industry, has provided insight into what makes a great headshot.
So what is a good headshot?
A good headshot captures your essence, your uniqueness, your personality, and your specific type. It makes it easy for a Casting Director or agent to see what roles you would be right for. A good headshot looks like you. It should not be overly glamorized, and you should [always] look like your headshot when you walk into the casting office. If your headshot has been airbrushed to make you look ten years younger and you can’t produce the same look in the audition, the Casting Director will not be amused. In their mind you just wasted their time and took a time slot another actor could have filled.
A good headshot shows your face but your entire face doesn’t fill 100% of the frame either. A good headshot has good lighting, is in focus, does not distract with odd clothing, costumes, patterns, accessories, or any other potential oddity that could take the attention off of you. The headshot should be pleasing to look at and convey information about the actor, such as a specific type that could be easily cast right now. The goal should be to move the Casting Director to say something like, “I could see her playing______”.
Taking the time to ensure you have a good headshot is crucial to your success. Your headshot is the first impression you make and can open or close doors to casting quickly; but it is also the LAST impression you leave when decision makers are ready to book. If they feel confident that you are professional and the perfect fit, they may pass on another talent with a less professional or reassuring headshot -- even if that other talent may have given a better read in the casting room. By this point, nuances in delivery have been long forgotten! Nancy gave great suggestions to consider while working towards getting headshots taken or retaken.
Do your headshots set you apart?