This guide is for both actors and business professionals, and will help you format your headshots properly.
Business Headshots: You should never crop off the top of your hair unless the photo is being taken extremely close and you can hardly see any of your outfit (which isn't something we'd recommend anyway). Make sure that you don't have too much headroom above you though, or there will be unnecessary dead space. See the photo below.
Actor Headshots: Cropping the top of the hair is common and can actually create more energy in the image, especially if the shot is taken very close. However, if you have an interesting or unique hairstyle that needs to be shown, don't crop off your hair. For more info, take a look at this article, called Why Crop the Top of the Hair?
4. Don't Lose Your Neck and Shoulders
Actor Headshots: Casting directors like to know what you look like, and with headshots, you're usually only showing your face. In order to give them some idea of what you look like, you should show at least some of your neck and shoulders in the photo so they can get a general idea of your body type.
How to Crop Headshots Using Your Computer:
If you are on a Mac, the standard photo viewing application is called Preview, which usually comes with your computer.
If you're on Windows, the standard photo viewing application is called Paint, and it also usually comes with your computer.
How to Crop a Headshot in Apple's Preview:
- First, ensure your selection tool is set to “rectangular selection.”
- When you scroll your cursor over the image you should see a cross.
- Then click and drag your cursor across the image to select the portion you would like to crop (the dimensions of your crop should display at the bottom right corner).
- With your crop selected, you can use the “Tools” dropdown menu at the top of your screen to select “crop,” or use the shortcut “command+K.”
- Be sure to select “Save As…” when you save the image to create a new file so as not to overwrite the original file – you may need it for a different crop in the future!
How to Crop a Headshot in Microsoft's Paint:
- Open your image, and then under the home tab in the “Image” group, you will see the option to “Select” and the option to “Crop.”
- Select the section of the image you would like to keep and choose the “Crop” option.
- Voila, your image has been cropped!
- Be sure to select “Save As…” when you save the image to create a new file so as not to overwrite the original file – you may need it for a different crop in the future!
Cropping properly matters, so don't skip it!
Have any cropping or editing questions? Email us at email@example.com or leave a comment below!
- Just Do It
- Make it Easy to Work With You
- Focus on Pain and Results Instead of Your Process
Key 1: Just Do It
The most important thing when raising your prices is that you just need to get over it and do it. Like Nike says.
Yes, it’s scary.
Yes, you’ve never crossed that line before.
But what you do know for a fact is that there are other photographers out there charging significantly more than you... So doesn’t it stand to reason that there are clients out there willing to pay higher prices?
It’s time to get over your fears and realize that if you want to be a successful photographer, you need to start making choices based on logic instead of emotion.
I admit - I was terrible at this for years.
I kept telling myself the age-old story most photographers believe: “I need to pay my dues for years and years before reaching that level.”
Well, that story is a lie.
There is no “level” you’re aspiring to.
There’s no Photography God out there saying, “Though shalt not raise thy prices until thou hast earned the right.”
You just need to say to yourself, “No more. I’m going to raise my rates!” And what will happen when you do?
Business will slow down.
For a while. But NOT forever.
Depending on how big your jump is, you might have to wait a few weeks or a few months before you get your next booking.
How Long Until You Get Bookings Again After Raising Prices?
If you currently charge $200 for a one-hour photoshoot, or $2,000 for a wedding, what will happen if you raise your rates by 25%?
You’ll be charging $250 for portraits or $2,500 for weddings.
And if you typically book five people per month, you might suddenly see that drop to one person per month.
But guess what?
Once that first person finally books with you at your new price point, your confidence will soar.
When that client sees you’re worth it, they will refer their friends to you. And their friends will believe you’re worth it.
And in the next month, you might get 2 more bookings.
And in the month after, you’ll probably another 3-4 bookings!
And by the fourth month, you’ll literally be getting just as many, if not more bookings than when you originally started!
You Can Choose to Believe Me or Not
You can stay where you are or trust me on this - your decision is not going to hurt me either way.
But just know that what I’m saying is true. It worked for me and has worked for thousands of other photographers.
You have to get over it and ignore the emotions telling you you’re a failure and your business is dying as you wait it out for 3-5 months.
Pretty soon you’ll start getting bookings again.
And before you know it, you’ll be looking to raise your rates again!
Key 2: Make it Easy to Work With You
The second key to raising your rates is to make it a pleasure to do business with you.
If you put all the responsibility on your clients and make things difficult for them, they won’t refer you to their friends.
Here are a few examples of how you can make things easier for your clients:
- Don’t: Ask, “What dates work for you to come to my studio for a consultation?”
- Do: Say, “Here are three time options, let me know which is best. If none work, I can
suggest others. And I’m happy to meet wherever is most convenient for you.”
- Don’t: Send them their images without clear instructions and reminders on what to do next.
- Do: Ask them to get back to you with their selections for retouching, send them a reminder a few days later so they don’t forget. Better yet, send them your top favorites so they have an easier time deciding which photos to get retouched!
- Don’t: Hide your prices and ask your clients, “What’s your budget?”
- Do: Give your clients a clear quote or breakdown on what you offer so they have an
easier time deciding. You’ll come off as more trustworthy!
So what are you going to change in your process to make it easier for clients to work with you? Come up with at least five ideas and make the changes starting next week.
Key 3: Focus on Pain & Results Instead of Your Process
What Are the Results You Provide?
Ask yourself, “What is the real result I give my clients?”
If you shoot weddings, they aren’t hiring you because they want documentation of their special day.
They are hiring you because of what that documentation will mean for them.
- They want great memories!
- They want something they can use to tell the story to their friends and family.
- They want to feel relaxed at their wedding and not have to worry about who’s going
to capture great photos for them.
- They want peace of mind that someone will be there to capture the most important
- They want someone who can guide them to look great in their images.
Most photographers just talk about their features and process.
• “I shoot in a photojournalistic style.”
• “I’ve been shooting for five years and have worked with numerous clients.”• “I work with high-end digital SLR cameras.”
• “I work smoothly with the videographer and I’m unobtrusive.”
• “I, I, I...”
Hint: No one cares or knows what most of that even means!
They only care about what all those things will DO for them. What’s in it for them and why will their life be better because of those features you’re offering?
They don’t care HOW you do your work, they just want it DONE.
Come up with at least five specific benefits you provide to your client at a deeper level.
What Are the Problems They Currently Have?
What are their biggest challenges?
Well, just think about the opposite of the benefits you wrote earlier. Chances are, a bride is stressed because she currently:
- Doesn’t have someone reliable to capture her memories for her.
- Doesn’t want to have to deal with worrying about getting good photos on the day of
- Doesn’t want to worry that her photographer might miss the important shots.
- Doesn’t want to worry that she won’t look good in her photos.
Out of all those problems she might have, which do you think are her two top concerns?
I would guess that she wants someone that won’t miss the important shots and will ensure she looks good in her photos (although this could be completely wrong since I don’t often shoot weddings).
Come up with the 2 BIGGEST problems your client wants to have solved right now. Keep in mind your client must be AWARE of these two problems. If you’re solving problems they don’t know they have, they won’t care (or worse, might get offended).
Here’s How You Pitch
Here’s an example of something you could say to have a bride immediately feel like you understand her.
Step 1: Focus on the pain:
“Most of the brides I work with worry they’ll be stressed on the day of the wedding, especially when it comes to the photography. Capturing the important shots and ensuring everyone is in place for them is definitely a big issue. Sometimes the bride even worries that the photographer might shoot her on a bad side or she won’t look good in her photos.”
If you’ve actually touched on her two biggest pain points, you’ve got her thinking, “Yes, I agree!”
Step 2: Transition into the results:
“Well, my main goal is to make your day run as smoothly as possible. I’ll be able to grab everyone and make sure they’re in the pictures and positioned properly, which means way less stress for you and better photos. I’ll even confirm ahead of time on whether you have any particular concerns on camera, like one side of your face that you like better than another, etc., so I make sure you look amazing in all your shots.”
Now the bride is thinking, “Oh my god, this photographer totally gets me and is perfect for me!”
She will likely not care at all about your credentials or the camera you use, or any of that stuff by this point.
Suddenly, that price increase of 25% is utterly meaningless.
Your client doesn’t care what it costs because YOU’RE EXACTLY WHO SHE NEEDS.
Avoid talking about your process and instead focus on the pain and benefits related to your work and you’ll have clients lining up to work with you, regardless of your rates.
Make things as easy as possible for every client you work with so they love the experience and want to refer all their friends.
And remember - the biggest barrier to raising your prices is the one you’re creating in your own head.
That’s why we discussed that at length first.
Just get over it and raise your rates - even if things aren’t perfect yet.
It’s much better to raise your rates BEFORE right away because that way, you’ll feel COMPELLED to make your work and marketing better to support it.
If you wait to make your business processes better first, there’s no time-based incentive to change!
So light that fire under yourself and create your success!!!
Are you a photographer?
Do you ever get angry that sometimes you’re booked with lots of clients and other times it feels like your business is dying and you’re stressed out of your mind?
What if you could have consistent work every month so you had a predictable, baseline of income that covered all your expenses?
Well I’m Martin Bentsen and I help photographers get booked solid.
I’d like to help you end the “Feast or Famine” in your business within the next three months.
And I’d like to help you for FREE.
“Catch Your Focus” is my free, 20-Minute Strategy Call to get your photography bookings consistent
I’ll help you get hyper clear on your messaging so clients line up to work with you, because they totally get how perfect you are for them.
We’ll also come up with a crystal-clear, step-by-step action plan to more than DOUBLE your photography business within one year.
And don’t worry - I don’t do hard selling. We're just gonna chat. If you want to hire me as your business consultant, that’s up to you.
My goal is just to help you reach yours. Sign up for “Catch Your Focus.”
Read Part 3 Here
Read Part 2 Here
Read Part 1 Here
Did you know that 92% of companies use social media such as Facebook during the hiring process? Social media sites give hiring managers the information they need to whittle down the list of candidates, and one in five employers ONLY looks at your LinkedIn photo and nothing else! Not having a social presence can also hurt you because it says you’re out of touch with trends and might not know how to use computers well.
It’s absolutely vital that you check social media sites and remove tags from pictures that show you engaging in NSFW (not safe for work) activities. You must also be sure your LinkedIn page is up to date with an excellent, professional profile photo.
A professional headshot tells employers you take yourself seriously and care, and it shows you are established enough to afford a professional photo. Unfortunately, research has shown that there is a strong bias against those who are unemployed, but having a professional headshot has been show to help minimize this bias.
A study done by LinkedIn found that job candidates are 14X more likely to land an interview if they have a professional headshot on their LinkedIn page, and that the positive first impression generated by a headshot with a genuine smile gives job applicants an immediate boost when the interview starts. This means rather than having to fight your way up from nothing, you’ll already be on the interviewer’s good side from the get go during your interview.
Read Part 2 Here
Read Part 1 Here
Do you know what it means to brand yourself? Most people think of Kellogg's or Chase when they think of brands. These are examples of corporate brands, and they each have something unique about them: a unique feel, unique colors, unique designs and products, etc.
Branding ourselves works similarly. What makes you different and memorable? How do you stand out? Branding yourself means combining your best personality traits with whatever skills you have that relate most to the job you’re looking for. For instance, are you really funny but also great at math and numbers? If you’re applying for an accounting position, you can tell them about your numbers prowess while also showing your comedic side by being your funny self during the interview.
So how do you brand? First, figure out what skills you have that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Second, figure out the best aspects of your personality. Then combine them together and you’ll have an idea of who you are emotionally and what you do best. Bonus points if you create a business card (www.vistaprint.com) and make a free simple website (www.weebly.com) for yourself that play up these things. For example, if you’re a applying for a sales position, you can create business cards as a freelancer showing you specialize in sales. Doing this shows you’re established and take your work seriously. Be sure to include a profes- sional headshot on both your website and business card to continue reinforcing that emotional connection and making potential employers want to meet you.
Just think how impressed a hiring manager would be if they saw you have a professional looking website and business card that shows you are the perfect candidate for the type of job you want. If you think designing a business card and website is too much work, at least tailor your resume and cover letter to promote your brand.
Read Part 1 here.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Under Promise, Over Deliver?” Most job applicants go in to their interview hoping to do a good job in the interview and be rewarded handsomely. Unfortunately it rarely turns out like this. Why? Because these days, doing a "good" job results in poor results, meaning you probably won’t get the job. In order to have even the slightest chance at getting the job, you’ll have to do at least an “excellent" job in the interview. And when you do that, what kind of results will you get? Good results. Meaning you’ll probably just barely land the job.
However, those that really stand out and create the dream job they’ve always wanted are the ones who do an “outstanding" job in the interview. These are the people who go above and beyond by under-promising and over-delivering. Those who do an “outstanding" job are rewarded with excellent results.
A great way to under-promise and over-deliver, or to be “outstanding” in the interview is to do some in-depth research on the company. Find out what the company’s mission is and come up with at least three creative ways you can help them move towards it. Present your ideas during the interview and you’ll impress the hiring manager. Providing this kind of value will give them every reason to ask someone as dedicated as you to join their organization. Remember, when they hire, they want someone who seems passionate and excited about working with them. If you don't come off like this, they'll move on to the next person.
You’d be surprised at how few people want to spend a few extra minutes thinking of reasons they really want to work somewhere. Not only is this process great for landing the job, but it can also help you do better work once you’ve been offered the position because you’ll feel more connected to the company.
Two Quick Job-Finding Tips:
- Try volunteering for free. If you reach out to a company you'd like to work at and offer to help them out for free, sometimes they'll be interested in taking you up on your offer. Then, after a few months, they might wind up hiring you.
- If you don’t hear back from a job application within a few days of submitting your resume and cover letter, be sure to follow up. I recommend using an easy and free service such as www.followupthen.com to remind yourself to follow up with people. It's super simple and helps you stay on top of important things!
When searching for a job, it's important to not forget certain things. This article will cover a few different strategies you can employ to make your next job search faster and easier.
- Although it sounds basic, remember to dress professionally, smell good, have your hair combed, and look the part of the job you want. We all make snap judgements about one another, and if you come in with sweaty hands, you could immediately turn the interviewer off when you shake. Don’t arrive even one minute late or its over.
- Not having a professional email address and email signature, and/or using improper grammar and spelling can significantly hurt your chances at landing a job. Get a friend or relative to proofread your messages if grammar isn’t your strong suit.
- Be sure to attach a great photo of yourself to your email profile so you form an instant emotional connection with the employer. This will help him or her remember you when you come in for the interview.
- Beware! A weak resume will be tossed in the trash immediately. Be conscious of the formatting and fonts you use. If the margins are off or you use an unprofessional font like Comic Sans, you might be hurting your chances more than you think. Be sure your resume is tailored for the job you’re applying to. Highlight related jobs, skills, and education you’ve had and minimize unrelated ones. Never create a generic resume to mass mail to different industry jobs. No one wants to hire a jack of all trades, so be sure to focus on your expertise. Bonus points if you add a good headshot to the top of your resume.
- Are you talking too much during the interview? The more you allow the interviewer to speak, the more they’ll like you because they’ll be building rapport with you themselves. When it comes time for you to talk, ask questions that show you’re interested in their company and excited to work there. Asking how they plan to grow the division you’ll be in is a great way to conclude the interview because it shows you’re interested in staying with them long term.
- Do your homework! Be sure to research the company you’re apply to so that you can answer questions like “Why do you want to work with us?” and “What do you hope to accomplish while working here?” Interviewers can easily tell who did their homework and who didn’t based on how generic your answers are.
- Do you have a USP? In marketing and selling, a USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition (or Unique Selling Point). It’s what makes you different or better than the competition. Spend a few hours thinking about what your USP is. What makes you different and better than other job candidates? What can you give this company that no one else can? Why should they hire you over the other applicants? The more time you spend coming up with answers to these questions, the higher your chance of landing the job.
Read Part 2.
Choose the Best Possible Shot:
Article: Choose the Best Headshot from Your Session
Crop Your Photos Properly:
Article: Guide to Cropping Your Portraits
Retouch Your Photos:
Retouching is a process that fixes blemishes, whitens teeth, lightens up under-eye circles, softens wrinkles, and even fixes flyaway hairs and shine on the face. Photoshop (the application used for retouching) can do a lot more than you'd expect, and if you're ever planning to use your photo in a larger format than the tiny LinkedIn photo and you'd like distracting elements removed, you should consider having it professionally retouched.
Learn More About Retouched Photos
1. Look through your photos with someone who will be honest and has a third party perspective.
2. If you like the overall photo, make sure to check that the expression looks natural and there is no tension or worry in your eyes or mouth.
3. Narrow down your favorite images into folders and subfolders on your computer so it's easier to compare them to each other.
4. Remember that retouching can be done to fix flyaway hairs, blemishes, shine, something distracting in the background, etc. In general, all professional photos should be retouched, but if you are just planning to use it small on LinkedIn, it might not be necessary.
5. Check out these fun videos I made. They'll give you my top tips for how to pick your best possible shot.
Video 1 (2014)
Video 2 (2011 - this video is a bit outdated and fairly long, but it can be helpful!)
Plus lens therapy... I'm sure you've heard of it if you found this article. The premise is simple:
Make your distance vision better by wearing reading glasses when using the computer or your phone.
How does it work? It works by adjusting the focus of your computer screen so it's as if your eyes are looking at something farther away. By staring at a computer screens all day, slowly our eyes get close-focused, and our distance vision gets worse. But if you use reading glasses, it will be as if you're staring at something really far away all day, so your distance vision will get better.
The premise could theoretically be correct, although many optometrists and ophthalmologists advise that it doesn't work because shortly after stopping the use of reading glasses your vision will go back to where it was. Now don't get me wrong, as I can attest to the fact that it did in fact make my distance vision much better within a few weeks. I could literally read signs that were far away and I no longer had to squint to see the menu at fast food restaurants.
However, a side effect began taking place that I was unaware of: The muscles that adjust the focus of my eye were starting to rub against the pigment on the back of my iris. Because of struggling to see the computer screen by wearing strong glasses, I was giving myself unnecessary eyestrain and changing the shape of my eyes too rapidly, and my iris pigment (eye color) literally started falling off, as strange as it sounds.
This phenomenon is called Pigment Dispersion Syndrome, and it basically means that the pigment starts to get clogged in the eye's drainage system. What happens when your eyes can't drain properly and your body is always adding fluid into your eye to keep it fresh? Slowly, the pressure builds up.
Pigment dispersion can very quickly progress to pigmentary glaucoma, which means your nerves inside the eyes get damaged because of the extremely high eye pressure.
Luckily, my wife insisted that we go to the optometrist to get our vision checked, because it was coming to that point in the year, and I found out pretty quickly that my eye pressure was 25 in my left eye and a whopping 45 in my right. For reference, the eyes should be between 10 and 20 at maximum. anything above 22 is considered dangerous and can lead to permanent vision loss if untreated.
Long story short, I had to do an emergency visit to an ophthalmologist who prescribed special eyedrops and did a bunch of tests. Now I'm going to have to use eye drops twice a day for the rest of my life and get laser surgery to help relieve some of the eye pressure. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Pigment Dispersion Syndrome or Pigmentary Glaucoma. The pigment that has already gotten clogged will be there forever.
All this for better natural distance vision. And just in case you're wondering, no one else in my family had pigment dispersion syndrome or glaucoma, so it wasn't hereditary. I'm very inclined to believe it's because of using Plus Lens Therapy, because it all happened so quickly, literally in less than a month.
Is the risk of possible glaucoma worth it for slightly better natural eyesight? I guess that's up to you.
What do you think of plus lens therapy? I feel photographers may find this story interesting since we use lenses and our eyes all the time. Comments are welcome!
What do you think? We love her expression for the character she is going for!
The lighting enhances her features and the atmosphere of the image. The background adds depth to the shot without distracting from the face.
However we do notice the earring right away, so we would want to be careful that jewelry is not distracting. We also notice the hand on the bottom right, cropping in would ensure all attention is only on the face.
The head tilt definitely makes the shot fun, but we also may have straightened up a bit to make the pose more natural.
Overall we love the energy in this image. It's relaxed, it's approachable, it's perfect for commercial, friendly roles!
What do you think? Leave us a comment or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
Who better to start this series with than the one and only Emma Watson! Alright, so let's take a look at the image: http://image.123tagged.com/images/e/emma_watson_headshot-1624.jpg
We love the expression. A slight squint makes for great confidence in the eyes. We do wonder though what character she and the photographer were going for. This shot conveys much more intensity than we would expect for roles she typically plays.
The hair in front of the eyes is definitely distracting if we're using this as a standard acting headshot. Our eyes also go to the fly aways on her right shoulder. From an even more technical perspective we can see a few shadows across the nose from whatever light was being used.
What would we have done differently?
Overall we like black background, but we would be inclined to soften the lighting and bring down the contrast!
What do you think? Do you like this shot? Anything you would change?
If there's anyone you'd like to see critiqued, let us know!
Comment below or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
Actors, you want to take it more seriously. When that little headshot jpeg pops up on a casting director’s computer, you want them to say, “Yes, bring that person in!” Not “Yikes, that guy kinda scares me.”Your headshot is your calling card. A nice color 8x10 of your face, from which people will hire you, and you will make lots of money for them.
It will be sent out and emailed to tons of casting directors and agents, who see hundreds of these every day. If your headshot is awkward or low quality, it's not just the image that will look bad, but you will as well. You want to be seen as a pro, not an amateur so the way you present yourself in your picture is everything.
A high quality headshot is everything, you want it to speak for you, to represent who you are as an actor. You probably don't want to use a cropped image from your best friend's birthday party. You'll also want to stay away from that JC Penny glamour shot with distracting palm trees in the background.
Here is what you should to keep in mind when it comes to your headshots:
1. Go pro.
Spend the money. It’s worth it. Go to a professional who is trained, understands lighting, and takes headshots for a living, not a who happens to have a decent camera.
Good headshots range from $400-$1200, and get them professionally duplicated. If the headshots look cheap, they probably are. And will make you look like you don’t care about your career.
2. Go for personality over glamour.
Make sure it looks like you. Be careful not to over retouch. Casting directors expect you to look just like your headshot and will be taken off guard when you show up looking totally different, or 10 years older. It’s not about looking pretty, it’s about representing your type, age wrinkles included.
It should look like you on your best day, showing your age, and who you are now. It’s not about the type you want to be, it’s the type you are.
3. It’s all about the eyes.
Just like with on-camera acting, it’s all about the eyes, and what’s happening behind them. It’s your closeup, your moment. Your eyes should be perfectly in focus, alive, and energized, and not dead and glazed over. There should be strong inner thoughts, implying a backstory and a life. A slight squint, and strong piercing eyes will bring a picture to life and help it stand out in a pile of hundreds.
A good headshot photographer knows how to bring this out for you.
4. Pay attention to framing, lighting, and background.
In general, a good headshot is chest up with good lighting on your face, and no strong dramatic shadows. Three-quarter shots are good for print, but be careful of extreme closeups. Look directly into camera, and the focus should be on the center of your eyes, not your left ear, or your shirt collar.
No peace signs, weird facial hair, or the famous “hand on face” pose. Be sure the background is not distracting. Remember, it’s about you, not the environment.
5. Natural light vs. studio.
Some photographers do both, as they offer a different look and feel. Natural light gives a very real, “film” look whereas studio lighting tends to be a little more polished, with a more neutral backdrop. Both can be great. If you are more of a sitcom actor, perhaps a
good well-lit studio headshot is more suited for you. If you want to look like you are on a high profile drama, then go for the outdoor look.
6. Clothing and props.
Keep it simple and follow the standard format. Being professional gets you noticed, not desperation. Wear a simple, solid color shirt with a little texture that fits you well and matches your eyes. No whites, and no graphics or anything you think might distract from your face.
7. Don’t go crazy with the makeup.
Yes, lots can be done with retouching. There is no need to put on tons of makeup, work with a professional makeup artist who understands how to compose a natural look. You want to look like yourself on your best day, and not look like you tried too hard. Girls, be yourself, do your hair the way you would for every audition. Guys, bring some tissues or powder to take down the shine, and maybe use a lightly tinted moisturizer to take out the redness and even your skin tone.
Find a photographer that gets you. You have to vibe with the photographer and that person has to make you feel very comfortable as you will hopefully be using this headshot for a couple of years and sending it to everyone in town.
And most importantly, don’t cut corners.
Any questions? Feel free to leave us a comment or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
I’m always a fan of the DIY mantra, however, you still need to know exactly what your site needs, what to avoid, and most importantly, how to promote it and get noticed!
Hopefully, the following 5 Tips will help you avoid some of the more common website-related pitfalls.
1. Bio - A good bio goes a long way. If you can make it light and funny, even better. You can include your credits on this page as well.
2. Promotional and/or behind the scenes photos - Posting headshots is great, but it can also be boring, and only gives Agents or Casting Directors, a one-dimensional view of who you are. Include promotional photos, press photos, if you have them, and/or behind the scenes shots of you on set. After all, you’re a real person, not just an “actor”.
3.Embedded Reels - Make sure your reels are easy to find, and use the YouTube player. The HD quality is as good as ever and it loads far faster than Vimeo. If you’re worried about privacy you can keep the video unlisted on YouTube so that only people who stop by your website can actually view it.
4. Social Media Links - Make sure you include links to your Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages (You should have them) and encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter if you have one, if not, CREATE ONE!
5. A business email - In addition to your agents/managers info, you need a way to be reached at all times. Make the address separate from your personal email. Use Gmail, but feel free to customize if you see fit.
Now you know what you need, go forth and create!
PS: Having a personal website these days is non-negotiable. Studio execs, producers, and casting directors often google talent before general meetings or when making tough casting decisions. In these scenarios, having an awesome website is your greatest promotional tool, and one of the only parts of your career you can completely control.
So here are nine tips to start off 2016 right:
1. Take a class with a working professional. Actors need to know how to book jobs in today’s market, both in NY and LA. But how does one do that, especially if you’re from say, Tupelo Mississippi, (Elvis was just lucky). Learn from someone who knows the business, who works in it, and understands current trends in the casting landscape. There are a lot of classes being offered all the time. Investigate the one’s that are suited best for you and aren’t going to break the bank. Perhaps an audition class to practice auditioning for the camera. Or an improv class which helps develop the quick think on your feet technique. Richard Kline, Larry from Three’s Company fame, offers an acting class that encompasses improv, mock auditions for TV and Film, blocking, mologue technique and theatre scenes. Plus you get honest critiques and the personal attention most other acting schools don’t offer. Best of all, the class runs for 2 and ½ hours and the first class is FREE!
2. Update your headshot and résumé. Remove any extra work and featured work from your résumé. Make sure to format it correctly (google search for good examples), and have it saved as a PDF so you can email it any time. If you haven’t had your headshots taken in at least 2 years, it’s time to get new ones.
3. Track down your footage. Still waiting for your student film footage or that one scene where you played that creepy stalker? If you must, stalk the directors and get your footage no matter what. If you don’t have any footage, have two scenes created and taped. City Headshots offers this service for a really great rate and the footage is truly professional.
4. Re-evaluate your type. Ok, ok, I know a lot of actors aren’t sure what their type is! Perhaps you’re in between types or maybe you are transitioning to a new type. Anyway, if you’re not sure ask a fellow acting buddy or an acting coach you’re taking class with (they can spot your type immediately, based on your personality. Remember, your type comes from presenting yourself the way others see you.
5. Create your own opportunities. Now more than ever actors need to take control and create their own content. Get your friends together, buy or borrow a good camera, write a good short script or webisode, and create a role for yourself. No More Excuses!Close
6. Get new audition material. With new content coming out all the time, there is no reason that every actor in town shouldn’t have a current, original monologue or scene from a Film of TV show that isn’t overdone, that they can transcribe for themselves. This is essential for actors who want to break into Film and TV.
7. Make a website. Don’t have a website? Welcome to the 21st Century where websites are essential for every single actor. Plus it’s free and easy, and everyone asks for it. Create a simple site in Squarespace or Weebly, put your headshot, résumé, reel, and contact info on it. Don’t forget to put your website link on your résumé and business cards. Trust me, I know what I am saying.
8. Learn how to self-tape. OK, actors, it’s time for an intervention on self-taping. It seems there are a lot of you out there who are sending in really bad audition tapes. I’m talking out of focus, poorly lit, unprofessional, shaky. I get it. You get the tape request at the last minute, panic, and need to make some quick decisions. What do you do when it’s10:30 p.m. on a Monday, and your agent emails you saying they need the tape by the next morning? You can either pay a lot of money to get it done professionally, or frantically call your filmmaking friend who goes to sleep at 9 p.m.! Or you can simply take a deep breath, and do it at home using the tools you already have. I promise you, it’s not that complicated. Plus, here’s great advice someone once gave me, buy a used professional camera and lens (do some research first), it’s cheap and will ease those self-taping woes.
9. Get a hobby. Acting can be very frustrating at times, trust me. You feel rejected, needy, and desperate. For the most part most actors are stuck in a so-so survival job that they start to question why they are doing this in the first place. Actors need to let loose and have some creative outlet, some inspiration, and a challenge right? But what can you do? Solution, find something else on the side to focus on that makes you, the actor, happy and get your mind off feeling used and rejected. Perhaps something within the acting world, such as filmmaking or photography. But take up this hobby because you love it, not because you want to make money doing it. This will help your sanity when those auditions come along, and you won’t be putting all of your eggs in that one basket.
I, being an actor myself, love interacting with fellow actors and other professionals within filmmaking, and I think it’s very important that we present ourselves as professionals, and we will be treated as such.
Good luck, and let’s kick off 2016 with Success!
1. Get Close Together, Very Close Together
You want to make sure there is no open space between anyone in the photo. What does this mean? Have everyone pose comfortably then check the shot. Are there any awkward spaces between people? You'll want to make sure those spaces are closed, either by having people rearrange or stand closer together. Really simple, but really important. You want to look like you like eachother!
2. No Floating Hands
We all know those photos, the ones where there's a random hand around a waste or an arm that someone has forgotten to hug around someone. Make sure everyone's arms are intertwined evenly. Suggest for people to hold their hands on their neighbor's backs instead of around their waists.
3. Make Sure Everyone Matches
It's always a bummer to see a family photo, everyone looking great, and you're in the middle of a conversation, a sneeze, or just weren't ready for that shutter to go off. Take a look at everyone before you shoot, is everyone smiling? Does anyone have hair in front of their face? Does anyone's clothing look awkward?
They may seem simple, but putting these few tips to the test will help you snap those awesome family photos you'll love for years to come.
What's the most awkward family photo you've taken? We want to hear about it!
Leave us a comment or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
The first thing you want to consider is whether you will be shooting in a studio or outside. Shooting outside you want to make the background as blurry as possible to keep the color but avoid distractions. We typically shoot between f/2.2 and f/2.8. The lower the f-stop the shallower the depth of field, so if you are shooting at f/2.2 and find it difficult to grab focus going up to f/2.6 or f/2.8 can help.
Keep in mind! If you are shooting on a crop sensor camera, you will need a lower f/stop than on a full frame. Something around f/1.8 will work comparably.
So knowing the f/stop you want to use, what should your ISO look like? Well to determine the ISO we'll also have to consider what our shutter speed. To avoid any blur and help us grab really crisp focus we typically shoot at 1/200 of a second. PRO TIP! Your shutter speed should match, or be faster than, your focal length to help avoid camera shake in your shot. What does this mean? Basically, if you're shooting at 100mm, your shutter speed should be at least 1/100 of a second.
So knowing your f/stop and shutter speed we can now set the ISO. This is going to depend on your lighting. If you're shooting outdoors with bright lighting, your ISO is going to much lower than if you are shooting indoors or in a darker location.
When shooting in brighter light outdoors your ISO is going to settle around 200-640. If you are in a studio you may be shooting between 640 and 1200.
And that's it! These three settings will have your headshots looking more professional in no time!
Want to know more, have any questions? We would love to help! Leave a comment below or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
1. A Genuine Smile
If you're going for a commercial you'll want to look friendly, approachable, and trustworthy. After all, you're the face of a product. You want to be confident but still relatable.
2. A Complimentary Background
Whether you are shooting in a studio or outdoors, you want to make sure your background compliments your expression. Light backgrounds, such as a white indoors or muted colors outdoors, work best for these types of shots. A dark background changes the atmosphere of an image. A bright background will help to enhance a happy expression and keep the photo engaging.
3. Complimentary Lighting
Just your background, you want to make sure that your lighting works to enhance your shot. Even lighting that keeps you looking natural is always best. If the lighting is too dramatic it will change the atmosphere or may imply to a casting director that you are trying to hide something about your appearance. Again, you want to convey a natural, relatable look.
Take a look at this commercial shot below!
Any questions? We love to read your comments. You can also tweet us @mjbhomeent!
Q: WHAT ONE THING SHOULD I DO TO PREPARE FOR MY HEADSHOT SESSION?
A: OUR ONE SUGGESTION? INVEST IN OUR MAKEUP ARTIST.
If you’re not used to being in front of the camera or are on a budget, you may be wondering if you should include a makeup artist on your shoot. Or maybe you’re interested in using a stylist but are wondering if you should bring someone you’ve worked with before.
These are both great questions.
To answer the first, no matter if you are male or female we strongly recommend using a stylist on any headshot session. While we do not require makeup, having someone on hand to ensure your skin, hair, and clothes are looking their best is invaluable to your final images. Not only will an on-hand stylist save you potentially having to purchase a retouched image to adjust shine or blemishes, she also works as an extra set of eyes for those details Photoshop may not be able to adjust, like certain flyaway hairs.
*If a shoot alone is like cake–fantastic in its own right– investing in a makeup artist is the icing that makes the cake that much better.
So who should do your makeup for you?
Maybe your sister or best friend is talented with a makeup brush or you loved your wedding stylist and want to work with her again. But how much experience do they have with headshots? Virtually everyone in our portfolio has worked with our makeup artist, who has extensive experience with our specific headshot style.
*If you love the headshots in our portfolio, our stylist Heidi plays an important part in helping to achieve that look.
Subtlety is key. It doesn’t look like your have blush on, it looks like a natural flush, it doesn’t look like high and contour, it looks like the light is hitting your face at just the right spot.
Heidi’s goal is to make you look like yourself on your best day. Do you always wear thicker eyeliner? Do you always skip blush? You got it. Before every makeup application she makes sure to understand what your normal makeup application looks like.
*Our artist integrates your style into her process, so you look and feel like yourself instead of a vision that a makeup artist might have for you.
You’re part of the entire process! Our makeup artist always starts by asking about your routine and finding good stopping points while she is working. She will show you what she is doing so she can get your feedback. You can relax in the chair knowing there will be no surprises.
As mentioned, Heidi has the knowledge, experience, and arsenal for doing makeup for specifically headshots.
She knows what products work with the camera, how they will differ from indoor and outdoor shoots, the attention that has to be given to certain skin types, and how to create illusions via makeup to fix things like facial structure.
Additionally, Heidi brings all of her makeup on the shoot. If something needs to be adjusted, she always has the tools to do so.
Throughout the entire shoot, we can see the photos up close via CamRanger, which displays the images on an iPad, keeping Heidi engaged with the session and able to modify so that every shot is better than the last.
Comfort and honesty are our top priority. Just as you collaborate with Martin on expression and position during your shoot, our stylist won’t stop until you feel happy and comfortable with the makeup.
Heidi is sure to encourage honesty if she feels someone is holding back, her goal is to ensure your makeup is exactly what you need.
Our stylist is at our studio full time for your convenience and she works with a vast range of clients every day, giving her extensive, specialized experience. To include her on your shoot, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org !
Do you have any other tips for headshot session prep? Tweet us @mjbhomeent or leave a comment below!
You might know how you like your hair, or how you like your makeup, but when it comes to expression, don't you wish someone could hold just your hand through the whole process and tell exactly what to do?
Well, if you shoot with myself or one of my team photographers at City Headshots, we'll make sure to do that.
But I'm assuming you found this article because you're either shooting with a different photographer or you haven't made a decision on one yet.
That being said, let's jump into it!
Well, because everyone is different and I don't know you personally yet, I'd like to start off by first listing the plusses and minuses of smiling and not smiling:
SMILES ARE GREAT BECAUSE:
1. They allow you to connect on a genuine level with the viewer. Make sure your smile isn't fake!!!
2. They show approachability, warmth, and build trust.
3. They make the viewer more comfortable with you.
4. They make you seem easy to work with.
5. They can help you look younger.
THE DOWNSIDES OF SMILES CAN BE:
1. If you don't like your teeth, they will probably show if your smile is genuine. But remember, your teeth can be whitened and straightened in Photoshop!
2. If you already look young, you will look even younger and possibly inexperienced.
3. It's dangerous to fake a smile in a headshot because if it's not a genuine, real smile, you could appear untrustworthy. An easy fix to get a real smile is to just laugh!
4. Your eyes can become squinty. Fix this by looking at the top part of the photographer's camera, or do a more subtle laugh/smile instead of a big one. Don't deliberately widen your eyes or you'll look like a deer in the headlights!
5. Wrinkles can show on your face, or your face can look wider. Lighting tricks and Photoshop can easily help with these issues.
1. They can help you appear older if you look young.
2. If you do a very subtle, closed-mouth smile, it can show confidence with approachability, which is an awesome look.
THE DOWNSIDES OF SERIOUS SHOTS CAN BE:
1. If you're not careful, you can look dead, blank, or mean/angry. A simple fix to this would be to keep your lips closed and do a subtle laugh to create a tiny little approachable smile that still looks like a serious shot.
2. You can look older than you are.
3. You have to work the camera more to show engagement and confidence. If you don't truly feel the emotion of confidence, or curiosity, or intelligence, or even sneakiness (for actors), your shot can look forced and fake.
So, now that you understand the main differences, take a look at our recommendations:
What characters do you like to play? Are you looking to go work in TV, Film, or Theater?
If you are looking for commercial work, a great smiling shot is the way to go. A good photographer should be able to help you achieve not only a great smile, but an interesting smile. You don't just want a stereotypical snapshot, you want your smile to engage and say something about your personality.
If you are looking to play more serious roles, you'll of course want a more serious headshot. Does that mean your headshot should seem angry, blank, or unapproachable? Not at all! Work with your photographer because a serious shot can show anything from vulnerable to sneaky, to arrogant, and even to insecure.
Remember: engaging your viewer is key, so make sure your expression is genuine and natural. Longer sessions allow you to play with several expressions, which can give you more shots to choose from when submitting to casting calls.
You'll first want to consider what is most appropriate in your company. What is your company culture? If your industry is generally laid back, focusing on more of a smile or laugh will show that you not only understand the culture but fit with the culture.
Alternatively, if your industry is formal and takes itself seriously, a more whimsical headshot may not be fitting. You'll want to prioritize approachability, but show that you take yourself as seriously as your industry.
Often your clothes and background will reflect the kind of expression that works best for you. If you would wear a polo or teeshirt to the office, a smiling shot will likely work best. If you feel a suit and dark background is most appropriate, a more serious headshot may be the way to go. But remember, confidence and approachability are key, regardless of whether you smile big or not.
You might also be interested in visiting this page, where we answer other questions and provide some great info including colors to wear and more!
Great Tips to Plan Out Your Headshot Session
Of course these are legitimate challenges, but a strong headshot photographer should not only be able to work in these creative limits, but create better shots for them.
So why do we love shooting outside?
First, your backgrounds will almost always be more vibrant. If you're looking for a creative shot or something to shake up your LinkedIn profile, shooting outdoors will give you richer colors that will draw eyes to the image. As for distracting backgrounds, ensuring this doesn't happen has everything to do with your photographer's equipment and composition. Make sure to look at portfolios–do you notice anything in the background? Does anything steal your attention away from the subject (the answer should, hopefully, be no).
Second, shooting outdoors puts you in a different element. Literally. Leaving the studio reduces a lot of pressure; rather than focusing on the lights and backdrop around you, shooting outside allows you the potential to interact more freely with the camera. If you are self-conscious about shooting in front of other people, check out our post from last week.
And Finally, as long as your photographer knows how to creatively add light where needed, outdoor light will virtually always be richer, enhancing your expression by adding different atmospheres.
If you still need some convincing, check out the shots below:
Do you like shooting outdoors? Do you feel more confident in the studio? Let us know! Comment below or tweet us @mjbhomeent !
1. A Flattering Light and Angle is Always the Goal
Photographers want to make you look your best, find your best side, and show you in, quite literally, the best light. Working with several people every day, we have a seasoned understanding of what light and angles tend to work best for each face shape. If you look good and feel good we'll get a great image.
2. We Like to Hear Your Thoughts
This definitely accompanies our first point. If you would like to adjust something or are looking for a different type of expression, we like to hear your thoughts! If you tell us during the shoot we have the opportunity to make modifications and help you achieve what you are looking for.
3. Some of the Best Shots Come at the Very End
This has to do with warming up to the camera. It's a strange thing to stand still and pose for a flattering angle, especially if you are not used to being photographed. If you see your very first images from the shoot and feel reserved, don't worry! Once you and your photographer warm up to one another and you begin to feel more confident, the shots definitely reflect that.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but some tips to know what's going on in your photographer's mind while you are shooting. If you are interested in more of these inside details, stay tuned for our next post!
Do you have any questions for headshot photographers? What are some things you're dying to know?
Leave a comment below and follow us @mjbhomeent!
We’ve talked a lot on our website and other blogs about what makes a good headshot, what makes a headshot pop, and our recommendations for making your headshot the best it can be, but today I want to cover what we look for–as photographers–when we are shooting.
First, and this almost goes without saying, is lighting and background. It is important you not only have quality lighting, but that the light is used to flatter you. Shooting with your good side away from the main light source will not enhance your shot as much as using that light source to illuminate your best features. Just as important, we always ensure that the backgrounds and colors we use match the tone you are looking for and do not distract from you as the main subject.
And that brings me to my final point: expression. Often in shoots, individuals will be thinking so hard about the expression they want to convey that they end up showing more tension and less confidence. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. We are very weary of things like mouth tension and whether the eyes are engaged. Relaxing a subject is always key to making sure the expression develops naturally–this gives the most genuine feeling to a shot.
When looking at choosing a great shot, all of these points come into play. If one element is off, it has the potential to take away from the entire image, but if all of these elements align, that’s when you have a great headshot.
For photographers, consistently shooting with these elements in mind give the best conditions for a great headshot. After all, “without a goal, you cannot score” (Casey Neistat).
What do you think makes the best headshot? We want to hear!
Tweet us @mjbhomeent or comment below!
Headshots NYC: ALL About color
Take a look at the two images below. Both show a very similar expression, but if this woman is looking for a shot that is warmer, more natural, and more approachable, which image works best?
There's conflicting conversation about whether it's color itself that influences emotion or our assumptions about color, but either way, we have certain ideas about color whenever we look at a photo.
Because we're so used to associating greens, blues, and brighter colors with natural, friendly, calming environments, the smile in the left photo seems softer and more welcoming. The dark colors, especially the red sweater and lips that are so eye-catching in the right photo, feel much more intense than those on the right.
Check out what happened when we directed our model to a more intense look in the darker background.
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The expression is now complimented by our "intense" background--it suits the dark colors.
In the darker shot her smile may feel out of place, we may wonder why she is smiling and be distracted from who she is as an actress. Because the rest of the image conveys such intensity her expression should also.
No matter how you use your headshot, you should be the star of the show. Choose the right colors and your expression will pop!
Interested in color theory? Check this out!
Think about it like this. If you were a director, trying to manage everyone on set, having problem after problem, and your actors expected you to cater to their individual needs, you would feel overwhelmed. Especially if these actors refused to help because they did not feel an obligation to you, rather that you are obligated to help them, you would not just be overwhelmed, but also frustrated.
But... imagine you are that same director and one of the actors offered to help you. How would that make you feel? You'd remember that actor and really want to keep in contact with them and spread their name around, right?
It’s called under-promising and over-delivering. It’s a technique that businesses constantly use to help spread word of mouth. Typically when you are first starting out you want to try to promise as much as you can because it will increase the number of times you are called. However, as your name expands and you get more and more jobs, you can start promising less but over-delivering, which really makes you memorable.
If you go that extra mile to really try to lend a helping hand (unless you are specifically asked not to), you will be remembered in the future. Your "brand's" "customer service" will be so much better than that of other actors or employees.
Most importantly, those in charge of casting want to know what you look like. This may seem obvious, but there are often misconceptions about how much of your appearance should be enhanced. While expressing the best version of yourself is crucial (in terms of composure and presentation), this does not mean you should perfect all flaws, they are after all what make you individual. Say for instance you have a scar on your cheek. Since physicality is one of the main qualities you're selling as an actor, digitally removing that scar is a bit like fibbing on a resume. If you arrive with a scar on your cheek having hidden it, you won't have truthfully sold your appearance and you become a less credible candidate for a role.This is not to say that you can't remove impermanent marks like pimples or discoloration, just not those things that are characteristic of your appearance.
Additionally, some casting directors may be specifically looking for imperfections. To remove these features can take away from the precise individuality casting directors may want.
Additionally, is the shot professional? This is another way to show your dedication to a production. A professional shot, one that has taken time and money to compose, implies a much higher level of commitment to auditioning than a photo taken in your home. While there are definitely ways to economize your headshots and make amateur shots appear more professional, it is not enough to choose your favorite vacation photo for a casting call; this will show much less commitment when looked at next to a professional shot. At the very least, an amateur photo should be taken specifically as a headshot and retouched by a professional if possible.
In addition to your appearance, headshots should also show what you are trying to sell: your acting skill. While aesthetics are important, this is only part of your acting resume. You have a fleeting moment to illustrate your skills and essentially market yourself to potential employers--make it count! You'll want to interact with the camera and play with your expression. If this seems more difficult in a photo shoot than on screen or stage it's important to find a photographer that can help to direct you and make you feel comfortable. The more comfortable you are with your photographer the more natural your expressions will be.
Any questions or comments? We would love to hear! Comment here, on our Facebook, or tweet us @mjbhomeent !