Headshots that stand out from the crowd

actor headshot headshot photographer Mar 02, 2022
Katherine Beck, The All American Actor’s Podcast

If you’ve already taken photos or are about to do your first headshots this episode will give you some great tips so you can get results with those headshots.

By the time you finish listening, you’ll know:

  • How to take headshots that match your personal brand
  • The do’s and don’ts for taking a great headshot
  • How to communicate with your headshot photographer before and during the shoot.

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    You're listening to the All American actors podcast, Episode 40. In today's episode, we're talking all about headshots that stand out from the crowd. That's coming up next, ready to go behind the scenes and learn what it really takes to build a sustainable career as a working actor in the US film and TV industry. Join me Katherine Beck, your all American accent coach, as I give you the insight and inspiration to take action on your career, learn my best tips and tricks to performing with an American accent and hear from working actors and other industry professionals. To give you a comprehensive overview of this biz we call show biz. This is the all American actors podcast. We will jump into today's episode in just a quick moment. But first I want to give a big shout out to Jess O'Connell, who sent me this five star review and says Katherine is the world's leading dialect coach for American accents. And it shows her expertise, connections and guidance on mastering the American accent is next to none. excited to hear more. Oh my goodness, thank you so much, Jess, I really appreciate your kind words. And I am excited that you are excited to hear more. So thanks so much. And if you're listening and loving this podcast, do me a quick favor just takes about 30 seconds out of your day. Hit the subscribe button if you haven't yet subscribed and tap those five stars and just write a really quick brief review about the podcast what you think about it means so very much to me. And you'll get a mention here on the show, which is pretty cool. So if you're loving this podcast and you're loving this episode, go ahead and leave us a review. All right, let's talk headshots. And back in my day, I've certainly taken a headshot or two. In fact, I still remember my first headshot, I think I was about 15 or 16. At the time, it was you know, your standard black and white in studio photograph, very archaic at this point. In terms of like, if you look at it, it just looks very outdated. But looking back at all of my headshots through over the years from when I lived in Chicago to when I lived in LA to when I moved in Sydney, you know, I've taken quite a few headshots. And it's interesting, I remember having this conversation with an old friend of mine who's from Chicago, and sometimes you can tell who takes your headshots, right, like a photographer may have a certain style like a go to headshot style, where everyone started kind of look similar in terms of the delivery of the photographs where you could go, Oh, yeah, that's a headshot taken by so and so. And that's a headshot taken by so and so. And so, you know, I think it's interesting. And I'm going to talk about this a little bit later on in the episode, because, you know, we want to make sure first and foremost when we're choosing a headshot, or even choosing a headshot photographer that were using a picture that really represents who we are, it's not about the headshot photographer, it's about us. And you know, going back to what we talked about last week, with personal brands, you want to be really specific with your headshots and choosing one that really speaks to you and who you are. Now, something you probably didn't know about me is back in my la days, when I was living in LA, I actually worked for a headshot photographer for I think a couple of years while I was there. And that was one of the coolest experiences because for me, I was behind the scenes, you know, and I got to learn the process of taking photos and headshots working with actors watching him work. And I took so much in and noticed so much. And I even got a chance to do some retouching work as well, which was very eye opening too. So I think I've got a decent perspective on this subject of headshots just from those couple of years of working with him. And let me tell you, I've seen some interesting styles over the years have different types of headshots and what's you know, hot and what's not. So let's talk about what you need. Now, today 2021 what's going on in headshots what you need to really stand out to get you noticed to get that audition to get you noticed by that agent or manager and really just get your career moving forward. So let's go through that. Let's break down what makes a great headshot. Number one, first and foremost, for me, it's always that you look like your photo and have a photo that actually looks like you. So what I mean by that is you want to make sure that your headshot really represents what you look like today, not five years ago and also how we wouldn't normally see you like if we ran into you on the street, that's what you look like in your headshots. We do not need a glamour shots, like you're getting ready for the prom. And we also don't need a character shot of what you would look like if you played a doctor on TV, you do not need and should not waste your time on those character photos, we do not need to see you dressed up as a cop or a doctor with a stethoscope, we do have an imagination. And for guys, if you've got facial hair sometimes, and maybe other times you're clean shaven, well, then make sure that you've got a photo of both to reflect both when you're clean shaven. And when you tend to have a beard because the last thing a casting director wants to see is a clean shaven photo, and then you walk in the door or we see you on screen with a massive beard, we don't want any surprises. And for women, you know, for example, let's say you're in your 40s. And you're starting to show those wrinkles and those beautiful expression lines, and we're starting to mature in the face. Well, we want to see that. So make sure that the makeup stays natural, not too much. So we can really see your beautiful journey of life right there on your face. Be proud of those lines and really let them show through. So watch retouching, you know, too much retouching on a photo is going to be confusing than when we see you in person. And we realize you're not a 25 year old, you're 40 year olds. And that's okay. And there's so many roles these days for 40 year olds, so embrace it, and let us see your natural beauty come through in the photo. So make sure that photo really represents who you are today, no surprises when you walk in that door or on screen. And as we were discussing last week, it really, really should reflect your personal brand. Let us see your personality come through in that photo, we want it to be genuine, not forced, real, truthful, honest, not some interpretation, or what you think the agent or the manager wants to see, we want to see you which brings me to an example from my own experience, which I think is kind of interesting to share with you. Because letting your personality shine through and the photo is so important. You want your personality. They're not the photographer's personal style. And I remember when I first moved to Sydney, and I got some photographs from a very well known and very sought after headshot photographer, and this person is great. I'm just gonna say that right from the get go. They take amazing photos. But for me, I remember when we were on set, and I felt like my personality just wasn't fully realized. In this session, I felt like the photographer was taking a lot of photos with a particular expression on my face. And when I left the session, I just got the impression that the session revolved more around the type of photos this photographer generally takes of actors, which is fine, but I didn't feel like it was really a true reflection of me in those photos, if that makes sense. I didn't feel connected in the process of taking the photos, and therefore it showed in the actual pictures. And I placed no blame on the photographer. As an actor, I need to take responsibility in that situation and say, if I'm feeling like something's not quite right, or I'm missing a particular shot, or it's not really connecting to me, I need to be brave enough and bold enough to say this is how I'm feeling. This is what I need. And can we have an open conversation about it? So then what happened is I got my photos back, I was a little bit disappointed. I spoke to the photographer and explain my concerns about the photos, but it was too late. Like I said, I should have said something within the photoshoot. Anyway, I asked for a reshoot, but the photographer kindly said that they don't do reshoots, and instead gave me a refund. Now let me say that this is the only time I was ever dissatisfied with a photoshoot. And what makes it so fascinating is that the photographer is very well light. And don't get me wrong, that they're a great photographer. But I just noticed that for me, everyone's photos look the same, the same expression on everyone's face. And I'm not the type of person who wants to look like everyone else. You know, I gotta be me. And for that reason, these headshots just were not my style. They weren't really speaking true to me. The reason I bring this up is that I don't want you to be afraid to have that open communication with the photographer before you book the session during the session. Keep the line of communication open with them, what your expectations are, what your desires are, what your needs are, and really understand if the photographer For is willing and able to work with what you want. So you've got that great communication and chemistry with your photographer. And if they cannot or are not able to achieve that what you need, well then be brave enough to express it to them. When it comes to headshots, we're paying a lot of money sometimes for these photos. So it's okay to be really clear on your intentions upfront of what you want to achieve. That way you're happy and the photographer is happy. And in terms of styles of photos, keep it natural, keep it real. Again, we want to see you if you're not a comedian, don't feel like you need a goofy, silly photo. Ideally, you'll have a couple of photos at least a commercial headshot and a theatrical headshot, your commercial photo should reflect who you are and the roles you would be cast in again, thinking of your personal brand. So for example, if you're a dad, make sure you have a photo that really looks like you're a dad, but don't overthink it, you know, just wear something casual, maybe another headshot with a more sophisticated look like button down shirt so that we can see a different role that you play in your day to day life. And then in your theatrical headshot. Well, that would serve more for your TV series or film roles. And you want to choose a photo that really represents you again, but we don't need to see that you're a jack of all trades who complain 18 year olds and an 85 year old just stick within your age range. Show us naturally who you are connect to us with in the lens of the camera so we can truly see who you are and your personal brand. And don't forget to update it regularly so that it reflects how you look now in present day. Okay, now let's talk about some technical things like clothing and colors, what to wear, what not to wear. Again, keep it simple, let's not overthink it. Choose colors that really bring out for example, the color in your eyes is really nice, or that works really well compliments your skin tone, stay away from things that are bold, bold patterns and stripes, that sort of thing. Anything that's gonna detract anything that's going to distract us from your eyes, from your face, from your expression from who you are, we don't want to see your top we want to see you. So anything that's a distraction, take it away from the picture that includes backgrounds, we don't want to focus on the background, we want to focus on you. So that should never be a distraction. You know, if anything, you can blur it out so that we're really having the point of focus on your face and not what's behind you. And you definitely should not blend in with the background either. And then the last thing I'm going to say is obviously natural light is better than studio light. So we want to be able to see you We don't want any sort of harsh shadows, nothing like that. Choose a photographer where you can see their body of work and it really resonates with you and who you are, again, that relationship when you're on set. Taking photos with them is most important so you feel comfortable and relaxed. And last but not least, resist the temptation to over retouch or retouch at all again, we want the photo to look like you. So resist trying to make yourself look like something that you're not. And that's really yet so just keep it simple. Let us see you in those photos. I hope this episode helped you out and served as a good reminder of what you need in your actors toolkit. So let me know if you enjoyed this episode. Send me a DM on Instagram at Katherine underscore back underscore and if you love this podcast episode, take a screenshot of the show. Share it with me on your Instagram story as well. Thanks for listening. And remember, if you've not yet grabbed my free American accent guide that's going to break down my step by step process to mastering the all American accent make sure you grab it, you can get your copy at www dot Katherine beck.com slash accent. And coming up next week on the show. We're going to be talking about your resume, what to put on there and what to take off and what will spark the interest of the US film and TV industry. Now make sure to share the show with all your actor friends, let them know what's coming up next week and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become an all American Actor so you can be the working actor you dream to be until then go practice your American accent and I'll see you back here next time.