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5 Reasons Your Headshot May Be Getting Passed Over

March 29, 2017

5 Things That May be Wrong with your Headshot

Industry professionals look at hundreds headshots every day.  While some are eye catching enough to hold their attention, many headshots need improvement.  Young performers, who in person, are obviously talented but somehow are not able to secure meetings should consider this: 

It may be your headshot!  

Does your headshot fall into any of these photo faux-pas?
  • The “Sears Portrait” or “School Yearbook” background.  Portraits and yearbook photos have their place, but if they find their way into an industry professional’s office, they’re likely to be presented with a quick exit via the trashcan.  These shots simply scream newbie, and aren’t up to par with industry standards.  Avoid faux-finished looking backgrounds and fake facades.  Even if you’re brand new to the biz, you can educate yourself as to what a good headshot looks like and you’ll fit right in with the most seasoned performers.  As a side note, actors should choose color prints over black and white.  Black and white is pretty much a thing of the past (except in the modeling world where both color and black and white are used).
  • Poor framing.  Poor framing in a headshot can be anything from too much headroom, to showing too much of a full body shot.  Generally speaking, a headshot should be cropped right at or slightly below the head (yes, in many headshots the top part of the subjects head is lopped off just the smallest amount), to right above the bust line/below the shoulders.
  • Poor Poses.  Poor poses include anything that appears silly or staged. For example, be careful about placing the closed fist under the chin or holding a prop.  Avoid side shots where it is difficult or impossible to see one side of the subject’s face, or those “Glamorshot” over-the-shoulder poses where you see more of the subject’s back than front.
  • You don’t look like yourself.  One of the biggest reasons your headshot may not be effective is that it doesn’t look like your child.  Yes, the headshot may get you called in to meetings or auditions, but it’s what happens after the initial meeting or audition that may be telling.   If you’re struggling to get callbacks your headshot may be to blame.
  • You picked the shot YOU love.  It seems only natural that a parent would be most qualified to choose the shot that best portrays the child.  Ironically, though, this isn’t always the case.  As a parent, you see your child a certain way, but that doesn’t mean you are the best at choosing what headshot will work.  If you’re currently seeking representation, ask other professionals, including your photographer, acting coach and those you meet at networking events to help you choose the right shot.  If you currently have representation, trust that your rep is choosing a shot that will help him/her pitch your child effectively.  It is important that you get the opinions of a variety of pros before deciding which shot to go with.  Remember, the photo you love may be perfect for the frame in the entry hall, but that doesn’t mean it is perfect for your headshot.
Having the right headshot is one of the most significant requirements for breaking in to the entertainment industry.  For more tips about getting great headshots like the ones on the right, check out the photo contest winners archive and make sure to check out our LIVE Hollywood From Home Q&A Today webinar on the 19th of next month!