Categories: headshots

actor headshot photographers

Being one of the actor, headshot photographers, has never been more exciting or fulfilling than now. “Carlos, my son, just received a role on a new Netflix series,” explained one of my VIP clients after a headshot session. “Thank you for the headshot that opened this opportunity.”

US film productions are moving to Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa to avoid COVID-19 mishandling and to ensure crew safety. Thirty or more production will re-start or initiate filming in Hollywood North ( Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa ).

Solstice Studios was scheduled to start shooting a new feature film with Ben Affleck in Los Angeles last April but will instead be shot in Vancouver, BC, Canada. On Reddit, people are researching how to move to Vancouver and take advantage of this opportunity of a lifetime. https://www.reddit.com/r/vancouver/comments/6ok0qh/thinking_of_moving_to_vancouver_from_los_angeles/

Actor Headshot Photography for Success

Agents, writers, producers and some photographers have written many articles on what makes a successful actor headshot. The following are three tips to consider if you want your 8×10 to open opportunities for being discovered.

Headshot of Juliana by Emily in Edmonton Studio
  1. Your headshot isn’t for you, but your career. Looking good may not be what will help but instead looking like the role. I’ve had a lot more success with actors who know what roles best fitted for their success. One of my pet peeves with talent agents and some actors is that they are solely concerned about a “nice picture – where I look good” instead of invigorating the individual’s personality and energy. An agent told me before a session: “I want a nice smile for her headshot. Make sure she looks 20 to 25 years old”. What could be more dull and commonplace? When we see Jack Nicholson, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Deniro, we don’t see a good looking human being but their roles in movies that shifted our thought about the story he/she conveyed.
  2. Be Real. Don’t choose the overproduced, over retouched or a pretend image that we call “vacant smiley” or “grooming.” Be you, bring your soul in the portrait. “Or consider the case of the actor, the one seeking to be picked by the casting director and “made” famous. Just about every single person who enters this field fails because the dip is so cruel and the arithmetic of being chosen is so brutal.”, Seth Godin. It’s not enough to have a portrait; the actor’s headshot should be a tremendous document, illustrating an emotional message. I wrote an article called headshot for auditions outlining the importance of an effective headshot and how most actors are picking the wrong style.
  3. Professional Printing. Although advancements in technology have changed a lot on how talent is discovered over the last few years, the printed headshot continues to be the way for initial casting. It’s far easier for a casting director seeking new talent to shuffle 8X10 prints from one pile to another than to be painstakingly searching online for talent. Once the casting director shortlists the lucky few, then they will look at the reels, websites and other media showcasing an actor’s talent and experience. Don’t cheap out in printing. It’s not worth it.

Someone’s individuality, chore and soul is the way to go! The secret for photographing a portrait that lands a career is to love and listen intuitively while photographing the client in front of my camera. Actor’s headshot is not to for the person’s vanity but to land a role, to be discovered and have a prosperous career – looking good is not good enough.

Most headshots of amateur actors are what I like to call the ‘vroom look’ -lit in high contrast no shadows heavily processed and photoshop with the model looking at the camera vacantly with a fake smile ( Great pics for Calvin Klein or Channel ). My competition produces those headshots but I want a headshot like Marlon Brando’s, Jack Nicholson and Angelina Jollie – eyes that makes one’s heartbeat upon gazing their eyes… Wow, the great one really knows to share their beautiful energy.

Personal trainer headshot by Eric Sanchez

Recently, I photographed an actor who is usually cast as a villain. The emotions inside the headshot highlighted the darker, more dangerous aspect of his character. His agent complained that I should have captured a nice smile, so I photographed him again to capture a “nice smile” with even and safe lighting. His agent was very happy with the second shot, but I told the actor to keep the original headshot for his next audition. I heard from him soon afterward: “Carlos, I’m not sure what happened with your headshot, it’s like magic – it’s landing me roles”. Against the advice of his agent, he kept using that same headshot with roles in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “The X-Files” and he also snagged a principal role in a new television show! I wonder if he still has the same agent?

Some headshot photographers are following a stale, formulaic approach by simply asking their clients to “say cheese”. Fake smiles are never going to be as engaging and lively as one’s authentic and true energy. A smile isn’t just about lifting up the corners of one’s mouth; it’s in the eyes and spirit. Casting directors notice the difference on a deeper level, it’s subconscious but effective.

Learn more about our recommendations for acting headshots https://artofheadshots.com/acting-headshots/

Carlos Taylhardat

Carlos Taylhardat is a portrait photographer in Vancouver BC for Art of Headshots Portrait Studio. As an adult Carlos was a Youth Worker and Family Therapist for Children that were displaced due to abuse in their homes. Following a 15 yrs career, Carlos burrowed his experience in counselling to adapt a new system for photographing people. His vast experience and knowledge of the human psychic is clearly displayed in his work for photographing people

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Carlos Taylhardat

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