Headshot and Actors Casting Photo – Tips

There is no great secret to good casting photos. Your actor’s portrait must look like you at your best. However this isn’t as simple as it sounds. To help you on your way to great publicity headshots I have highlighted a few simple tips. Whichever photographer you choose for your actors or publicity headshot some elements will remain the same. First of all, drinking a lot of alcohol and staying up late the night before your photo shoot doesn’t help. You will end up looking drawn with bags under your eyes. While Photoshop can help edit photos, being tired and hung over will also affect your focus during the shoot, so I suggest you avoid alcohol and drink lots of water a day or too before the photo shoot. Don’t forget to moisturise your skin and only wear very light make up to achieve a natural look. The result will be great actors headshots that find you work.

Lighting for Spotlight Headshots

Good lighting is imperative to a casting headshot, with no hard shadows, and your eyes must be well lit and in focus. I am a fan of natural light and contrary to popular belief very bright days are not best for actors' portraits. Diffused natural light, i.e. sun through clouds often produces fantastic punchy results for a spotlight headshot, but whatever quality of light the photographer uses it must be controlled.

What to Wear for a Spotlight Actor's Headshot

The colour of your hair, skin or clothing should not blend into the background. You will see many bad examples of actors headshots in spotlight like this. For example, a black top against a black background looks like a floating head, what happened to the body one would think, the same applies for white against white etc. Plain colour clothes are best, any experienced publicity photographer in spotlight should advise you on this. Stripes or flowery patterns draw the attention away from your face and eyes and are best left at home on curtains and sofas, Cream or dark blue colours are easier to photograph than black or white which can be more technically challenging for a clear spotlight headshot, depending on the light or the experience of the photographer. Always bring a selection of clothes on the day, once again a good actors headshot photographer should advise you what to wear.

Getting a Range for your Actors Spotlight Headshot

Superficial styling, such as men shaving halfway through the shoot or women wearing hair differently can create different looks, but going beyond this is when it gets interesting. An actor's headshot photographer must focus on your eyes; a variety of looks from strong to vulnerable can all be achieved depending on your thoughts and how you feel in the moment. You can take this further by either projecting a thought or being open and letting the camera in. The important thing is you feel and think something as the moment is captured on film.

Choosing your Actors Headshot

Choosing your photos from the contact sheet is equally important. Most actors will choose photographs that make them look younger, prettier or more handsome but it’s the interesting headshot that will get you into a casting. So don’t ask your friends or your mother to help you chose your headshots only ask advice from others in the business, especially casting directors and agents.

Choosing Headshots for Spotlight

When choosing your Spotlight photographs, it’s worth knowing that the spotlight online directory will allow any number of photos in addition to your principal photograph. Make sure you chose a photographer who helps you maximise your chances of getting varied roles, and pick photos that reflect really different personalities and looks. When it comes to your 10”x8” headshot, I suggest gloss for the depth and no borders for impact. Colour photographs are becoming more widely used for actors’ headshots although black and white is still the norm. Presenters and dancers headshots are now usually in colour with the style allowing a little more flamboyance than actors’ casting shots.

Sending your Headshots to Agents

If you are intending to send your headshots by email, make sure you only send a low resolution version, the last thing you want to do is annoy casting directors and agents by crashing their inbox when sending your headshots.

Choosing an Actors Headshot Photographer

Don’t ever underestimate how important getting a professional casting headshot is, so do your homework before choosing a photographer. Go beyond personal recommendations, look at the photographer’s website and see if their work is consistent. You can also go into the Spotlight office in London and look at photographers’ portfolios. There are a lot of Spotlight photographers in London, I really recommend calling and making sure you can establish a rapport with the photographer so you can get the best headshots on the day.
 And finally, enjoy the shoot!

Publicity Headshots in London – Post Shoot

Getting Castings and Auditions

Artists that have an agent can still find their own auditions and castings. Information of castings and auditions can be found from various sources, and you simply joining the Actor’s Centre in London’s Covent Garden can help you network and be around like minded people. Many dancers, singers, actors, musicians and models will find auditions in The Stage, the website and paper for the entertainment industry. There are also many online websites on which actors, singers, dancers and models can find work, such as Shooting People or the Acting Website.com, or The Stage online listing, there are not only castings and auditions but also flexible jobs. Castingcall Pro, is another source, although this is mainly for actors & actresses. I also suggest PCR as a great place to find commercials, television and theatre work even student films. If entertainment is your chosen profession it is advisable to join one of the associated unions such as Equity or The International Federation of Actors.

Further Training for Actors

Drama classes and training are all part of the actor’s journey and a good place to start is
The Conference of Drama Schools, listing twenty two leading drama schools. These are mostly full time for young students but there are many drama classes and schools for mature students wishing to tread the boards, such as the City Lit in London Covent Garden or the Actors Temple in London which offers training in the Meisner technique as well as help with audition techniques etc.

New Model Photographs

For new models a publicity portfolio is important. Established models will have a range of styles from different photographers’ shoots over time, but getting noticed requires a good natural headshot for castings and sending to agents, most castings being in London. Z cards are often used to promote models and dancers in the musical or entertainment industry, Z cards are A5 cards with several photos to include a good headshot.