Everything You Need To Know About Headshot Photography

Because photography is an interwoven craft usable in many forms, today we’ll discuss an undiscovered model or actor’s best portfolio friend: the headshot. The less complex description of these photos: a headshot is a concurrent, 8x10 picture of yourself that is used to determine your castability for roles in musical productions, your face’s potential to sell brands or just your mug for portfolios to obtain work in entertainment fields.

The more complex answer: A headshot is an updated, 8x10 picture of yourself that reflects your type and is primarily focused on the features of your face. A headshot is your calling card; your personal photo advertisement for securing interviews and auditions with agents, managers, and casting directors.

Below are commonly asked questions regarding the headshot photography world:

Are headshots in color, or black and white?

Color photography is the standard for headshots; in fact, the color saturation is richer today than ever before. Color photography gives casting directors an accurate view of your features such as your skin tone and eye color; never accept photos in black and white unless you’ve been instructed to do so.

What’s the difference between a headshot, ¾ shot, and full length shot?

The name refers to the amount of body captured in the 8x10 photo.

Headshots cover the top of the head to the sternum (middle of chest). ¾ shots are from the top of the head/ hair to approximately the midpoint of the thigh. (Most ¾ shots stop at the waist.) Full length shots capture the full length of the body.

Stick with either the headshot or ¾ shot.  Full length shots are normally used chiefly for modeling pros, and not necessarily great for casting calls. While it’s good to give casting directors an idea of your body type, usually a shot picturing the body from the waist up is more than enough and are far more dynamic.

How much should headshots cost?

You should expect to spend anywhere between $300 - $800 on a photographer and prints. While it’s extremely imperative to have professional headshots, it’s equally imperative to avoid deteriorating your finances on overly expensive headshot sessions; this is cash that can be better spent on training, marketing and so forth. There are many affordable photographers, many which may charge $400 or less, that are able capture a great selection of shots to help you stand out to casting directors, agents, and managers that you’ve shown an interesting in casting for.

Should I just take the photo myself or get a friend to shoot me?

Because these photos are designed for professional settings, having unprofessional camera operators at the helm is perhaps no-no number one. Remember, you’re a professional performer; because you want to emanate that professionalism, professionally taken photos should always be your modus operandi in theatrical or general acting lore. Anything with your name on it is a reflection of your talent and work.

In Closing: It All Starts with the Photographer

Because your ultimate goal is minimizing your initial investment, finding an affordable photographer is priority numero uno. Once you’ve found the perfect man or woman, discuss your goals so they can provide the right lighting, backdrops, close-ups and portrait rendering.  Certain fields require certain sizes of photo spreads; having the right photographer in your corner is definitely a huge bonus, but never a guaranteed ‘in’ when speaking of casting selections or lead roles in plays.

About the Author

Roger Kowalewski is a freelance writer and photography buff from Indiana. You can follow him on Google+.