Ah, the all-important actor headshot! You may have heard the expression “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That cliche’ holds a lot of truth and is the primary reason you MUST have a professional, competitive headshot. Your headshot is your number one marketing tool for this industry. Ever since the dawn of film and television, an actor’s “look” has been paramount in casting. Your look, and more importantly, how you market that look is critical. I say all that to emphasize this point: This is not the time/area/place to get cheap on your acting career! Professional headshots are just that – professional, which means you should pay someone who does actors’ headshots for a living to do your headshots. Believe me, I’m all about saving a buck when you can, but the buck you save here will cost you role after role after role. The sad part is, many budding actors who “had a photographer friend” do their headshots don’t even realize how much it’s costing them because they aren’t even aware of the opportunities that are passing them by. Hopefully, I wasn’t unclear about that.
Actors’ headshots are a different animal in the world of photography. There are elements to it that change from time to time – much in the same way fashion does. For instance, headshots used be in black and white (until the late 90’s or so) and now they are in color. So, you need someone in that world who knows what door-openers in the industry want today. Do not confuse business “headshots” with “acting headshots”. Many photographers do “headshots” and actually mean business/corporate portraits – these are not appropriate for actors. Make sure the photographer you go with is a pro at headshots for actors. It is usually easy to tell which kind of headshot photographer they are simply by looking at their portfolio.
Great headshots are way more than a nice photo.
I could go into all the nuances of a good headshot but I’ll leave that to the pros – and you should too. Get recommendations for photographers from the agencies where you want to pursue representation. For now, here are two photographers who are excellent:
Kelsey Edwards: Kelsey’s portfolio speaks for itself. The catch is that she lives in LA but comes to Atlanta at certain times each year for sessions. Her work is incredible but also a little more in price (remember what I said above!).
Anderson Smith Photography: Smitty’s work is also excellent. He is especially good at fashion shoots if you’re also looking to put together a portfolio for modeling.
(If you are a pro headshot photographer in the Southeast and think you should be in this list, email me.)
Professional headshots are going to cost you anywhere from $200 – $600 depending on the photographer and how many “looks” you decide to shoot. That’s just ballpark range and has been my experience in the Atlanta area. If you live in LA, NYC, or Chicago, the price may be higher. Feel free to add a comment on price ranges you’ve found in your market.
Once you’ve chosen a photographer, listen to them! They will usually give you very important advice on what to wear to the shoot, how to prep, and what kinds of clothes not to bring.
Last, relax and have fun at your shoot. You want your headshot to be a representation of the best you!
Remember, don’t skimp on this part of the process and go with the pros.