Hello! Welcome back to another Female Filmmaker Friday where we talk about The Industry. My name is Kate Hackett and I’m an actor/writer/producer here in LA. If you are new, please subscribe & consider becoming a patron!
Today’s chat is for our actors — all about headshots.
I’m going to be totally honest here. I hate headshots. I hate taking them. I hate preparing to take them. I hate looking at them. I hate them. BUT. Almost uniformly casting directors say that’s their first stop: they look at your headshot first, resume or reel second, and everything else maybe someday if they have time*.
*they never have time.
If you go back and look at my “what casting sees” video, it’s pretty obvious why the headshot is so important. Look at that. It’s all they have.
So here’s the easy stuff:
- don’t ask your buddy to take them if your buddy is not a headshot photographer
- expect to pay between 150 and 400 bucks
- everything’s digital
- shots should be in portrait mode; landscape is too small on the screen
Okay! You’re done! Go take headshots!
…no. No, there’s so much more. A lot of the advice out there is, frankly, bullshit. “Stand out!” what? How the fuck? That’s not helpful. So here are practical things I do before every headshot session:
- Research the shiiiiit out of my photographer. Because I’m a redhead, I make sure he or she has done redheads before. There’s something uniquely tricky about our coloring so it’s important my photographer gets it. Does your photographer shoot in a studio or outdoors with natural lighting?
- Research what’s ‘in’ right now — and who is in. Headshots go through cycles of hotness — a big easy example is the move from black and white to color. Color is here to stay, but you want to make sure you know what’s trending. Plain backgrounds? Natural light vs studio? Your manager or agent can really help here. If you already have recent shots of one, try the other.
- Meet with my photographer. Or chat on the phone. SOMETHING. I need to make sure I have some kind of rapport, especially because I find taking photos like this so weird.
- SCOUR photos to find shots that I like — of people who play my type, of fellow redheads, of people I think I could play… the works.
- Carefully decide what ‘type‘ I’m going to shoot for in this session. Talk to your representation and make sure you’re getting what THEY need too.
Oh – speaking of type – make sure you check out my blog post on how to type yourself!
- Commercial or theatrical? You can get both in one session, but it’s a good idea to have a focus.
- How many looks do I want? Most photographers have a set rate for ~3 looks and you can add on from there. I tend to aim for 5 just because I figure if I’m spending all this money, I may as well get some bang out of it.
- Clothes. I am not stylish at ALL so this kills me and I usually have to tag in someone who knows what she’s doing but — go out and buy clothing you think fits your look and your aim for this headshot session. Make sure it FITS you, make sure you’re COMFORTABLE, and make sure it is FLATTERING ON CAMERA. How?
- Test your shots. Do a quick test shoot with a buddy to see what your clothing looks like on camera. What looks good in a mirror doesn’t always work on screen and I cannot tell you how many outfits I’ve tossed on thinking this will suck wind up being great. Cameras are weird.
- Get enough sleep, do all your skin care nonsense, cut your hair AT LEAST six weeks before your session, blah blah.
- Bring your selected outfits and A FEW BACK UPS. Communicate what you want with the photographer.
- Ladies slash me personally, always get hair & makeup.
A lot of these steps are really personal. If you’re a bombshell, you’re going to need totally different outfits and styles than I need, but you still need to be brutally honest with yourself about what you play, what your team needs you in, and how to sell yourself.
…After going through all this, I’m sort of in the mood to take new headshots.