What do casting directors want with your headshot for an audition?Casting directors want a headshot to fill a role in a movie or television show! Make sure your headshot looks exactly like you. Not you looking – thinner, younger, older or more muscular, it should be an exact representation of you to fill the role he or she is casting. They are busy going through thousands of 8×10’s and need to fill a role that matches the demographics described in the script. “Casting directors or agents need to look at your headshot and know instantly your age range, where you are on the economic scale (upscale, middle class, blue-collar, etc..) and various aspects of your innate personality”, said Tob Burke an image consultant expert for backstage.
Why do you want a headshot for auditions?Simple answer right? To land a role or be discovered! “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. “The headshot. It’s the single most important marketing tool for an actor”, Backstage. So a headshot for auditions should be a portrait specifically designed to help you be discovered! Simply hiring any photographer to produce a headshot is careless and disrespectful toward one’s self. You are not serious if you think that anything goes when it comes to your career. Now that we know a casting director’s criteria, you want a headshot that represents you exactly as you are and inspires a role. Avoid the two most common type of headshots; the Vroom Look and the Smile with Vacant Eyes. Instead, look for a headshot specific for casting. What makes a headshot for casting?
Headshots for CastingA headshot for casting is a portrait of an individual that meets casting directors’ requirements and it gets you work. Our minds are extraordinary at understanding people, so a great headshot makes a statement that manifests a deep and profound understanding of you, that goes beyond words to convey a subconscious realization of your best. A headshot that inspires the director to profoundly vision you in the role he or she is casting. “Carlos, my agent wants me to die my her blond… I am a redhead and proud of being so… What should I do?”, I might have lost the agent as a client but couldn’t help myself… “Get a new agent…” Susan ( not her real name ) was a redhead who wanted to be herself rather than being a redhead pretending to be a blonde. On a deeper level she was aware of the power of authenticity which is what made Oprah, Jennifer Lawrence, and all the extraordinary people share themselves with us. During the session I learned about her skills, talents, and dreams through our conversation, her agent didn’t know who she had. A few days later she added her new portrait to the actor’s workbook and landed her greatest role to date. Her previous headshot was an image of an insecure female appeasing an agent but her new headshot was a portrait for casting.
VROOMI have never written about what I like to call the Vroom look because I didn’t want to criticize my competition but will not mention the names of photographers guilty of Vrooming. ‘Vroom Look’ is a bad idea for acting headshots, ok for modeling pictures to be used on your comp card and a great picture for Calvin Klein and ego, but it will look like everyone else and it won’t reveal anything about you. A Vroom look headshot is a picture of someone looking stunned at the camera matched by exaggerated photo retouching and heavy makeup. Producing an unrecognizable portrait of yourself which is great for the ego, Calvin Klein and not for casting. I like his abs and her makeup – great! Vroom look photographers aren’t interested in your uniqueness, instead, they simply photograph you the same way every single time. Casting Directors will receive the lifeless Vroom headshots because it’s fashionable – today, but I argue its relevance for an actor’s headshot. Thanks to the popularity of this style of pictures ( not headshots ) that may have started with Calvin Klein in the ’90s with a campaign of young teenagers in underwear. Actors with headshots for casting are smashing it with authentic portraits of themselves. Feel free to write me an email refuting my meandering subjectivity that critics 90% of photographers who are Vrooming.
Vacant SmileyThis is the most common type of headshots by amateurs, assuming that a smile will disguise everything. Also believing smiles equates to a good picture. I won’t show a demo not to insult anyone. One should smile if inspired to do so through interaction and authenticity. Smiley Vacant portraits are images of someone with an inauthentic smile that may or may not be professionally exposed and edited. The photographer simply instructed his or her customer to smile and completely neglected the most important piece in a professional portrait, the human being in front of the camera thus we dubbed it “Smiley Vacant”.
How do I get an agent???
The method isn’t to go out and find an agent. The method is to do work so impossibly magical that agents and producers come looking for you. You, the one who cared enough to put it all on the table, who fell in love with your viewers and your craft, and who made something that mattered. It doesn’t have to be a feature film or a Pulitzer-winning play. In fact, the approach works best if it’s not a fully polished and complete creation. The best work will create an imbalance in the viewer, one that can only be remedied by spreading the word, by experiencing this with someone else. The tension this imbalance creates forces the word to spread. It means that asking, “Have you seen . . . ?” raises the status of the asker, and the champions multiply.
– Seth Godin