All too often I get actors come to me for a headshot session after being disappointed (and usually considerably out of pocket) by going to a makeover studio or general portrait photographer. These are two types of places it is vital to avoid when looking to get industry standard actor headshots and this is why….
I know makeover studios all too well – I used to work in some at the very start of my photography career. From a photographer’s point of view, depending on the studio, they can be a great place to start. From my time working in one of the UK’s largest makeover studios I learned how to shoot quickly and efficiently by making every shot count as well as learning how to best pose clients to make them look as flattering as possible in camera. This training given by the studio was primarily done to help them get as many people through the doors as fast as possible as well as make as much money as they could. It was a real conveyor belt set-up.
In exchange for my soul and minimal pay, the studio would throw clients at me and the 9 other photographers shooting that day before hard-selling the clients into coughing up hundreds, sometimes thousands, for run-of-the-mill photos (mainly because the studio had sucked the life and creativity from the photographer). I got so frustrated by these studios extorting me and the people in front of my camera that I finally got the balls to say ‘sod it,’ and decided to go it alone and provide truly personal, individual shoots for a fair cost that wouldn’t require the client to take out a second mortgage.
The problem with makeover studios is that, usually after finding them on websites such as Wowcher and Groupon, they often offer clients a professional make-up artist and a photoshoot for little to no money (anwhere between free and £15 seems to be the current rate). A no brainer right? Wrong.
First of all, the photographers aren’t headshot photographers and there is a huge amount of difference between a portrait and a professional actor headshot. It’s a totally different set of skills that a photographer only gains through knowing the acting industry and specialising in it. Honestly, ask a makeover studio about casting types and they probably won’t have a clue what you’re on about.
The second thing to bear in mind is that the studio wants to make money and they can only do this by selling you lots of prints for lots of moolah. As a result, they often actively discourage their photographers from doing a shoot comprised entirely of ‘headshots’ as they know actors don’t actually need many. Instead they will try and convince you that you of course totally need some ‘fashion’ images as well as plenty of cheesy shots of you jumping in the air pretending to have fun.
Finally, once you finish with the photographer and get to the sales guy (there’s always a sales guy and he always pushes HARD), they will tell you that any single image you are fortunate enough to like, will cost you about £100 for a print, or if they even offer digitals, around double that. That’s for a low-end studio too and likely doesn’t include retouching.
JOE BLOGS; PORTRAIT-AND-EVERYTHING-ELSE PHOTOGRAPHER
Joe is a nice guy. He’s got the kit, the studio and even seems pretty reasonably priced. He’s got loads of really nice shots of babies and product photos on his website as well as pretty much anything else you can point a camera at (which is everything).
What Joe doesn’t know is the acting industry. Joe doesn’t know what Spotlight is, what industry standards are, the fact there’s a recommended dress code or what the hell a casting type is. Instead he’ll tell you to wear something nice like a designer shirt and either look super smiley or look ever so intently into the distance (with your eye-line so far off-camera you’re practically looking sideways).
Joe is a great guy to go to for a nice photo of yourself to give to mum. Not for your professional acting headshots that are going to be the key to securing your audition. There are hundreds of nuances to creating great actor headshots that it takes years of practice, training and research to learn. Whether it’s knowing how to achieve that focused look in the eye of your client without making them squint, knowing how to coach actors so you can capture their casting type in a subtle way or keeping up with the latest standards and trends expected of Spotlight and casting directors. 99% of general portrait photographers are oblivious to all of this so will struggle to get that one shot that could potentially launch your acting career. Though on the plus side you’ll have a lovely canvas over your parents’ mantelpiece.
Sure, Joe might be bit cheaper than a specialist headshot photographer, but this is your career and if that isn’t worth investing in, what is?
So why not check out exactly what a professional actor headshot photographer brings to the table by clicking —>HERE<—
My sessions are all about achieving the best possible actor headshots through tried and tested techniques that your agent, Spotlight and casting director will approve of! We’ll talk about your casting type; how to prepare and what to wear; go through exercises and run scenarios to help you stop posing and start acting; we’ll make sure we get a range of looks in a subtle way that doesn’t go overboard with huge smiles or villainous scowls and each session will be tailored to your acting style and level of experience so you can get a truly unique shoot, bespoke to you.
If you’re interested in booking an actor headshot photography session with me or simply want more info, feel free to say hello via [email protected] or by calling on 07765258666.
See you soon! 😉