I don’t need to tell you that you need professional headshots to be a professional actor. Unless you have friends who are directing or producing their own work and casting you, it’s the very first thing you need to get to submit yourself for acting jobs.
The problem? They are so dang expensive!
Worse yet, when you’re first starting out in a major acting market, you don’t yet have the experience to nail your headshots on the first try. You haven’t been in the game long enough.
Ok, so let’s assume your very FIRST headshot session won’t be your last. You’re gonna need to level up once you have more experience and knowledge about your type. But what I don’t want is for you to waste money on your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds of headshots!
So let’s break down the top three ways you’re wasting your precious dollah bills on headshots that take you nowhere!
REASON #1: You don’t know your (specific) type.
Your headshot is not just a nice picture for your social profiles of you lookin’ smokin’ hot! It’s a marketing tool that serves as an advertisement for what kind of problems you can solve on-screen.\
If you happen to be a SMOKIN’ HOT VIXEN, then alright – that glamorous photo is sending the right message to your buyers. But if you’re more on the “normal people” spectrum of hotness, that same sexy photo is false advertising.
You might get an audition, but you won’t book the job. Because you don’t solve that on-screen problem.
Allow me to share a personal example: Here are a few casting notices from projects I’ve booked.
- Real to slightly character looking
- Fit & attractive but NOT A MODEL
- Not too good looking
“Not too good looking?” Um… rude! 🙂
I joke of course. Because no matter what they were looking for, the check still cashes. Am I right? But I can’t get called in for those jobs if my headshots are too “pretty.” You must know exactly what you’re selling and shoot headshots that advertise just that.
When it comes to understanding your type, specificity is KEY!
Generic words are not your friend when preparing for your headshots. You may think it’s helping you cast a wide net. But a wide net will not serve you here. You need to cast a very small and specific net, so you attract the roles you were born to play and the auditions you can actually book.
INSTEAD OF “LAWYER”
What kind of lawyer? How much do you get paid? Are you an appointed attorney for criminals who can’t afford to pay? Or are you a District Attorney? Those are different roles, different feelings, and different problems.
INSTEAD OF “QUIRKY BEST FRIEND”
What makes you quirky? Do you make everything awkward by bringing up your cat’s diseases during social events? Or are you overtly sexual even though nobody’s tryin’ to get with that at this picnic?
INSTEAD OF “COP”
What kind of cop? Beat cop? Police captain? Mall cop? School security who wants to be friends with the kids?
The more specific you can get with what you’re selling, the more likely you’ll get called in for roles you’re likely to book. And isn’t that what this is all about?
REASON #2: You’re not acting in your headshot.
This is the BIGGEST problem of them all. If your headshot is your first line of defense to your buyers as an ACTOR, you’ve got to ACT in your headshot. You should have a specific character in mind and be thinking specific THOUGHTS into the camera, just like you would to your scene partner.
It’s not wearing a suit that will get you called in for a lawyer role. That’s only a piece of it. You must “jump off the screen” as someone who absolutely IS a lawyer. And that comes from your acting.
When you book your next big role and they put you on the poster, you will be playing that role in the photoshoot. Do that now. Your headshot session should be fun, because you’re doing what you love to do, acting!
REASON #3: You’re trying to do too much in one session
Many headshot photographers charge by “The look.” The reason for that is so:
- Not all your photos look the same, and
- Different characters lend themselves to different “moods”
I see actors kinda freak out over this and try and get as many looks as they can squeeze into one session. This rarely produces the results you’re after.
Trust me, I know how expensive those sessions are! I understand the impulse to try and “get it all” in one session to save money. But when none of the photos are specific and you’re not acting well because you were trying to do too much, you’ll have to do them over again…. That’s way more expensive.
Play the long game
This is a great time to remind you that you’re never “done” with headshots. They’re not easy to get right. But you can give yourself the best shot at a good session by getting VERY specific on just a few looks and preparing for those “roles” with character thoughts.
Once those are attracting the perfect roles and you’re booking, you get to reinvest in your next “set” of looks to expand your opportunities. Play the long game.
If you liked this post and would like to dive deeper into how to get really clear on what you do best, grab your FREE copy of the Actor Logline Worksheet!