An actor headshot print needs to consist of five main things for it to be accepted by a casting director. If your print doesn't contain these five qualities, most casting directors will toss it. As a film director myself, I get tons of submissions for projects I'm working on. It's surprising how many actors print out an unprofessional photo of themselves on regular computer paper and in black and white and hand it to me during their audition. It actually blows me away.
1. 8x10 - Your headshot MUST be on paper that measures 8x10 inches in size. Computer paper is 8.5 x 11, meaning it won't work. If you decide to print the images yourself, you'll actually have to cut each individual piece of paper to 8x10, or purchase 8x10 paper specifically. Casting directors hate being handed a standard-sized page because it won't fit in the pile of other Headshots they have to carry around. This makes them more likely to toss it.
2. Resume on back - if you're going to hand in a headshot at an audition, it needs to have your resume on the back with all your information. See this book for more info on what to include in your resume. Now remember that because your printer will be printing your resume on 8.5 by 11 paper, you'll have to cut it so it fits properly on your headshot. Then make sure to staple it at the four corners so it's securely attached.
The other three musts will come soon! Stay tuned.
What is the difference between printing on regular paper and 8x10 paper, and why do casting directors prefer 8x10?
8 inch by 10 inch is the standard for headshots and has been the standard since the beginning of casting. Because of this, it's extraordinarily difficult to change the standard and when someone sticks out from the standard, it can be bad thing. Although they say sticking out from the crowd is good, in this case it's bad because your headshot is literally sticking out from the pile.
This is why in a stack of 8x10 resumes, you don't want to be the noticeable one that is larger than the rest. It makes it difficult for the casting director to carry around a nice pile of head shots and resumes.
I can't stress enough the importance of cutting your resume so it fits neatly on the back of an 8x10 print as well. And make sure to staple all four corners. There is nothing more annoying to a casting director than having to search through a pile of Headshots and resumes to find one that got separated because you only stapled it at one corner. Most of the time instead of spending the time searching for it they'll just toss your photo and with it, your chance to land the role.
Are postcards and business cards really that important? Absolutely. But are they a requirement? No.
Having a set of postcards and business cards on hand wherever you go is so important. It's infinitely better to just pull out a card with your info than to try to write down your information on the back of some scrap paper when someone asks you for it.
The reason I usually recommend business cards over post cards is just for convenience-sake. But as I'm a guy, I'm usually not carrying around a bag that can fit postcards. I've found that women are more likely to have the postcards, and guys are more likely to have business cards which can fit easily into their pockets.
It's fine to have both but make sure to at least have one or the other because oftentimes the opportunity won't present itself for you to take out your large 8x10 headshot. It's also rude to give someone something that they will have to hold if you're at some sort of event. This is why business cards are the way to go in my mind... People won't get annoyed holding a headshot or postcard the whole time. Sometimes they might even toss it before going home because they're tired of carrying it around.
I generally discourage actors from printing their own headshots because unless they have a lot of printing experience or want to spend a lot of time or money doing test prints and learning how to make it work, it's usually not worth it.
Most printers these days can print fairly clean images, but the tricky part is having to learn the right paper type and also having to learn how to get your name and inset border on the prints as well.
With a good printer (costing at least $500), ink can be as cheap as $.80 per page, with the paper itself costing about $.40 per page. This means it costs you about $1.20 per print. When you compare that with ordering 100 prints for $100, you can see why it's better to just get them made professionally. Large printing companies buy their ink and paper in bulk which means it's cheaper for them to print. Unfortunately for you, ink expires and you'd have to print many more prints than you'd need to be able to get value out of it.
If you don't want to invest in an expensive printer, ink and quality can cost a lot more. Sometimes it can go to $2.50 per page and the resolution will be low and colors won't match perfectly.
Most people opt to have them printed professionally because there's no learning curve and they don't have to invest a large amount of money in expensive printers and Photoshop software. And generally, the prints turn out better in the end.
What is the difference between Glossy, Matte, Semi Gloss, Luster, and Satin finish? And what is a Litho Print? Great questions, let's go through this and figure it out together.
Today we'll talk about Glossy versus Matte headshot prints.
Glossy and Matte are probably the paper types you have most likely heard of. Glossy means the print will have a reflective, shiny surface. This looks great and can really enhance the rich tones of an image and make it appear sharper, but the downside is that sometimes there is too much reflection and makes it difficult to see the print clearly without turning the image in odd directions to block the light reflections.
On the other hand, Matte is essentially what everyday computer paper uses. It's flat and not shiny at all, which is great for clarity and being able to see the image clearly. Unfortunately, the downside to this is that sometimes the prints don't come out as sharp or as constrasty because the ink can be absorbed more easily by the paper, which softens the precision of the individual DPI (or Dots Per Inch), which are the little tiny points of ink that the print drops onto the page as it prints.
If you were to choose between these two for printing an actor headshot, opt to use glossy. Sometimes, printing on matte paper can look like you just printed the photos out with a regular printer. But neither of these paper types is ideal, and we will go into more detail on what works best for a headshot print tomorrow.