“Headshots are cheesy” “They are not crucial” “You can take them yourself” …These are stigmas I often hear actors whispering around town. After years of working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, from Actress to Set Photographer, these couldn’t be further from the truth.
Since childhood, I’ve always been in love with storytelling and the arts. I was a shy teen and finally muddled up the courage to join an acting class after graduating high school. I loved it and once (to my innocence) thought I had enough credits on my resume (which was 2 acting classes, ha!)
She then asks “What makes you different?”
I started submitting my headshot and resume to agents. Crickets…until one commercial agent called me in for a meeting. I. WAS. ECSTATIC. Nervous, but ecstatic. Day of, I went into the meeting to be greeted by a smiling woman and her assistant. They asked me where I was from and how long I’d been acting. She then looked me straight in the eye and asks “What makes you different?” I started to stutter, frantically thinking of a clever or witty answer (I’m not good at on the spot quick remarks – I’m the person who thinks of a comeback 2 days later!). I was speechless. She quickly remarked, “Today, (as she picked up my 8×10 glossy) your headshot got you in the door. This is a fantastic shot with lots of personality and it got you in here today, but you need to do the work”.
Looking back at that photo now as a Photographer, I see the qualities that make it a stellar shot. Beautiful, even, flattering lighting that show my authentic self, a non-distracting background, a top that doesn’t clash and makes me POP, and tons of expression in my eyes and smile; I look comfortable and confident; I look like someone you want to work with and be friends with. Taking this all in, I realized not only what makes a great headshot but just how powerful and important the actors headshot is. It’s the agent/manager/casting director’s FIRST impression of you and separates you from the hundreds of thumbnail sized submissions. I’m a big believer in success equaling preparation meets opportunity. I wasn’t prepared to work in the industry at that time, yet amazed that this photo of me caught the agent’s attention enough to bring me in. THAT’S the power of the headshot.