Friday, February 25, 2011

What makes a good headshot?

Descano Photography
 They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so rather than talk about what makes a good headshot, lets focus on what makes a bad headshot.

The goal of your headshot, beyond anything else is to make you more marketable, period. Headshots are not meant to adorn your living room or mantle, they're meant to get you more work in the entertainment industry. If your headshot doesn't do that, it fails.
So rule #1, if it doesn't market you well, it's a bad headshot.

Another trait of a bad headshot is if the shot is confusing. If an agent or casting director has to wonder if the person is smiling or not, its confusing. When its confusing it sends mixed signals. Mixed signals are not interesting, they breed uncertainty. And uncertainty is something that casting directors are never comfortable with. So rule #2, if it's confusing, it's a bad headshot.

If your headshot is black and white, and makes you look like a realtor from the 80's, it's a bad headshot. Face it, headshots these days are taken in color. Yes, I am aware that in certain parts of the world, London for example, headshots are still done in black and white. However this blog is called " The American Headshot ", and that's what we will be focusing on. Black and white used to be the norm in the 80's and 90's, not anymore. NYC was the last stronghold for black and whites, but once LA switched the industry standard to color, NYC soon followed.
Your headshot should be full of character, like a reflection of yourself. It's possible you might be sabotaging yourself if your headshot is "basic". A basic headshot is one that probably cost $50 and was done at Sears in front of a white backdrop. Basic headshots are boring headshots, and boring headshots are not memorable. The goal is to have one that makes you stand out from the crowd, not blend in. Unfortunately, there are only a few photos in a pile stacked in front of a casting director that he or she will remember. It is crucial yours is one of them. When you spend the money to invest in great photos it shows. It makes you look more professional, and it exemplifies that you have a vested interest in your career, and you'd rather not take the cheap way out. Generally speaking, if you got it done at the mall, it's probably gonna look that way. The old saying, "you get what you pay for " usually rings true for headshots. So rule #3, if it's black and white, it's outdated. Therefore it's a bad headshot.

More to come......

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