Blog by Misti Layne
Blog by Misti Layne
Acting Headshots are to actors what business cards are to the rest of us. They are incredibly important and if you don’t make an impression in a nanosecond the opportunity may be gone. Casting directors, managers and agents may spend a split second deciding if you are right for the role or their agency.
I’ve been photographing actors headshots for over 10 years now and while black and white is no longer the standard some general ideas still are. I found this great page from agent Rick Miller titled Be Who You Are. His advice is just so spot on. I’ve sat with an agent friend as he sifts through headshots that came in the mail. The images that were taken by friends or friends who are photographers 99 times out of 100 get tossed. Sorry to disappoint you, but it is true. Why? Because the image doesn’t connect, likely they are starting out and lack any sort of resume and aren’t taking this business seriously. If you aren’t why should someone put all that effort into you? I know many actors in Los Angeles and San Francisco. These people work hard and on a daily basis to make things happen.
Take for instance Brian Chenoweth. He has been doing this for ages but went out and got a degree and now runs a business but it allows him flexibility to go out for auditions, call backs and the job if he books it. He loves what he does and does everything to make it happen. You should see his credentials and resume and can at IMDB where he’s also posted my photos. Brian is a great character actor and the demand for people like him is high. If you think because you are blonde and blue eyed you are destined to make it well, think again. You have a lot of competition!
Here is another story of Eddie Alfano and he too has my images posted. He is a great and gorgeous guy who works his butt off to make things happen. So he knows what type of guy he will play and has created images to help sell that. The first image on IMDB is one we took especially to get cop roles. It worked.
So go about your career as an actor as a business because it is. I got into photography as a kid because I liked it. I still do! But it is also my livelyhood and I do it because there isn’t anything else I’d rather do.
Professional images for business or corporations are more important now than ever. They are used in promotional materials, websites, LinkedIn, blogs, speaking engagements etc. Setting consistency in business is always important and now that images are so prevalent these days it’s just as important in most any corporate and professional service industries. Business owners, attorneys, corporations, speakers, realtors, authors and all types of industries are changing from the standard gray or black or white background to something that shows more personality and depth. Environmental corporate portraits can take place in an office or on the street which makes for an image that can really stand out from the rest.
My experience photographing people in and environmental setting have an easier time and feel less stressed in this situation which brings about an image that can express a person and personality far better than the sit here, turn, angle, chin down image. Images have texture and depth that just isn’t the same in a studio shot. I often hear a client say “I just want my image to have more personality than the standard kind of gray look.” This is exactly what you do get.
Living in the San Francisco/Bay Area we truly set the tone in many industries especially in technology and creative industries. There is no reason why your photograph shouldn’t represent you at your best, be something you are actually proud to use and help your business too.
A partial list of my clients are here. If you want an image that resonates and makes a great impression, call me. See the difference yourself.
ABC 7, AIG, Alain Pinel Realtors, Anshen + Allen Architects, Bingham, Bryan Cave LLP, Buzz Media, Cisco, Colgin Cellars, Dave Flemming-Giants Announcer, Disney, Goodwin Proctor, Green Ivyed, Incisive Media, Merrill Lynch, Payne + Fears, Reid Hoffman-LinkedIn, Ropes Gray, SAP, ShotSPotter, TAJ and many more.
Head shots are for actors like a business card to anyone else. They are hugely important and just crucial to your success. They really must be done right and done right the first time. A manager, casting director, director or anyone in the business won’t spend more than 1.5 seconds looking at your head shot if they don’t captivate them or you have a look that makes them stop and read your resume. It is sad but true and that’s how the business works.
I photographed Jasmine and had a great time with her. This is what she has to say about head shots…
I needed to take a head shot, so I did some research beforehand so I’d know what to expect. I looked up head shots of actresses in my age group and noticed that their photos were very simple: minimal makeup, solid-colored tee shirts, and natural looking hair. I decided to do the same, simple makeup and a tee shirt in a color that complimented my skin tone. Even with all the research I did, I soon realized that taking my own photos wasn’t going to be good enough – none of my photos looked anything like me, or good for that matter. I decided I needed a professional photographer and luckily I found Misti. Misti told me to keep my look for the shoot simple and fresh. Having a professional take my picture made all the difference in the world, I am so confident in these pictures and I know she got the best possible shots of me, infinitely better than the ones I took myself!
Thank you so much Misti I absolutely love them! I will definitely let you know if I want more pictures and again thank you so much!
Jasmine did her research and knew what needed to be done. Head shots are not in black and white anymore, they are rarely printed beyond a few to send to agents and manager. Much of this is just done online now and when you see someone in person. Your image has to connect and connect quickly. So remember that old saying “you only get to make one first impression” and get those professional shots done soon! Show personality and range of ages and looks and don’t forget to connect!
One of my favorite things as a photographer is shooting head shots for actors. First, they are fun and second, they are so comfortable in front of the camera. I’ve worked with Eddie before and we worked on shots to get him gigs like a detective, cop etc. It worked. It’s important to all actors to keep your photos current, have a lot of options and different looks.
Remember this is your calling card. An agent will decide in 1 second if they think you may be right and that photo your roommate took in the backyard will get you noticed but it won’t be in a good way. It is really important to present your in the best possible way. Choices by casting directors are made in seconds and your shot has to touch them. It has to speak to them. Money may be tight but if you don’t have great shots you’ll never be the actor you want to be. This is your business card! I can’t be a photographer without a camera and this is the same for an actor. So be serious when it comes to your shots. This time we worked on the “nice guy”, the “boyfriend” and body shots. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!
Eddie is great so keep your eye out for him! Eddie will tell you…”Those pics have helped so much, I’ve gotten called in for more TV shows this season than any season before, so its no coincidence.”
I love film. I love the contrast, the grain, the texture. I love the tactile process and smell of the canisters! Call me crazy but I think these shots of actor Eddie Alfano show just how amazing film is. I get asked when people see me using film “how do you know you got the shot?”. Because it’s my job to know! I’ve shot a countless number of rolls of film over my lifetime and it was long before digital came along. While you may not be familiar with film and don’t trust it, don’t discount it as a medium. It was after all around long before digital came into the world!
I love working with actors! Some are a little camera shy oddly enough and some just eat it up. It was like this with Christy. We did the “get me work” shots and then just had a little fun with it like “your son just wrote on the wall!” and “please stop crying, please” head shots. Head shots should be fun but there are things you have to do for great shots.
Your head shot is your first impression to the people you want to hire you so put your best face on as this really is your business card and needs to be the best. Good luck!
I love photographing men. They are much more simple than us women with our complicated hair, make-up and insecurities. When doing head shots with men you can make them look stronger by using more contrasting shadows, harsher and busier environments, strong forward on stances even work well. Have lots of options done. Also think about interests you may have. Recently I had one guy who is in the military so we played that up (not the one in the photos-he just has the look!). The gent with 8 pack abs was going directly for certain shows currently running so that’s why the Roman costume. It doesn’t hurt to try something in particular so that casting agents really see what they will get! Here are some shots I’ve done just recently. Lots of laughs to be sure and I didn’t include some of the outtakes but maybe one day in the future I will.
A few months ago I had the pleasure and fun to do Eddie Alfano’s head shots. We were going for a particular look–he wanted CSI or that hard New York cop look. So we did that and a bit more. He looks menacing in some of these shots but don’t let that fool you, he’s really a funny and nice guy. So how fabulous is that he has now booked CSI New York and a robber on Cougar Town! I can’t wait to see them both and glad our work took him in the right direction. Elton Bolden of Tilmar Talent knew what needed to be done and it was successful.
If you are getting into acting and starting your head shots it’s really important to have options and know what you want and what you are good at.
Congrats again Eddie, the DVR is ready!
Lily did a great doing her first head shots. She’s applying at NYU Tisch (been there myself!) and in LA. Best of luck Lily I’ll look for your name in lights!
Last week I was in LA and had the best time. I worked with some great talent that definitely gave me some great headshots. I also got some great LA gossip which I always love to hear! Alas sadly, I can only share a few when there were just SO many! Thanks all! I had a great time working with you and I hope these shots get those jobs that you so deserve! These actors have worked hard and if you are just starting out it’s imperative you have great shots that are current and represent you to the best.
I love doing head shots and the people I meet are truly unique and always bring something into my life as well.