The primary difference between headshots and portraits is that headshots are much more standard and portraits are much more experimental. There are four primary differences between the two:
These differences can be found in the lighting, the angle of the shots, how far out the shot is taken from, and the coloring. Additionally, there are usually more Photoshop effects added into one than the other.
Headshots are shot fairly close in and are very standard. Especially business shots. Typically headshots will be in color, however every once in a while you'll see them in black and white. However, no special effects are added to the shots. Most headshots use very soft lighting that covers the entire face and doesn't make any harsh shadows. Additionally, most headshots have a relaxed and realistic expression. You usually don't want a crazy expression in a headshot because it will look fake or forced.
Portraits, on the other hand, are different in all aspects. First of all, they can be shot very close in or very far out and they can be shot from low or high angles. The framing of portraits can be however you want because there are no rules. Typically, portraits will use many more Photoshop effects in them, and although they might be black and white, the contrast might be extremely strong, or they might have an advanced color effect. For portraits, you can use soft lighting or you can use hard lighting, it really depends. Most head shots are taken with high key lighting, but portraits can also be taken with very low key lighting, where the lighting is dark and dingy. It all depends on what the look is that you're going for in the shot, since portraits are extremely artistic as compared to headshots. Additionally, in portraits the expression on the subject can be anything from an extremely funny and crazy face to something extremely scary and dark.
Again, to reiterate the difference between headshots and portraits:
Portraits are extremely experimental. Headshots are not.
As a professional headshot photographer in New York City and Manhattan, you have to make sure you know the client's personality as soon as you meet them. Learn their mannerisms and see what they act like and do.
There is no easy way to learn a person's personality except by speaking with them during the session. Remember that if they seem not to joke too much, a very smiley and playful shot will not fit them well. It won't capture who they really are.
On top of that, you have to understand that it's not only just about expression. The lighting and style of the entire photograph should serve to capture the client's personality. There is something about every headshot that either makes it truthful or doesn't. Look at the shot and try to determine: does it look natural?
The funny thing is that you can tell a persons personality just by looking at their face.
If someone looks very friendly, they usually are. If they look mean, they probably don't have the friendliest personality, because over time, their expressions have caused wrinkles in their face in that way.
This is pretty easy unless you've never hired one before. All you have to do is email or call a headshot photographer that you are looking for. Make it simple. Just send them a message saying you need some new headshots and want to schedule a session, and it will be easy enough because they should get back to you within a day about their availability and you'll be able to schedule something.
The more difficult question is where to find headshot photographers. First off, if you are reading this article it means you are on www.cityheadshots.com which is a great headshot photography website and you can contact me for professional shots whenever you'd like. But if you are interested in hiring a different photographer, feel free to follow the steps below to get yourself some great results:
How to find a great headshot photographer:
1. Google "Headshots" and you'll come across a bunch of excellent photographers. Only thing is they typically charge a lot.
2. Google "Cheap Headshots" and you'll find some great resources for headshot photography and you'll be able to really get something decent without breaking the bank.
3. Ask your agents, managers, or acting teachers for recommendations. They will always point you in the right direction, but again, be willing to pay for those great shots.
4. Ask your friends who they may have used. But remember: just because a session went well for your friend doesn't mean it will go well for you.
5. Scour Craigslist. There are always photographers posting ads there. Same thing with flyers. Typically, if someone is posting an ad it means they are new and have not been getting much referral business, so be wary.
In a word, no. But in more than one word, perhaps, maybe.
You see, the reason makeup artists are recommended is because they know how to make you look natural and great on camera. You don't want to look made up for an event. You want to look like you look in every day life but with special makeup to hide imperfections and problematic things that show up on film.
There is a difference between makeup to enhance your appearance in real life and makeup to enhance your appearance on a camera.
I highly recommend that you use a makeup artist if you can afford it because it will really make your shots pop and look better. Be careful when doing makeup yourself because you might overdo it and it might not look as natural as it should.
If you absolutely cannot afford a makeup artist, I recommend you watch for two primary things:
1. Shiny face, from too much oil. You can wipe your face off if necessary.
2. Dry lips. You can use Chapstick if necessary, but be sure to remove it right before the shoot so your lips don't look shiny.
Hopefully these tips help you out if you can't afford a makeup artist. If you can though, don't be cheap. You're only hurting yourself.
Well, this is a great question. And not a simple one either because using a bounce board is more complicated than it sounds. Many people think bounce boards are simple to use but they aren't. You have to understand the subtleties.
When someone first learns how to use a bounce board, they hold the board below the clients face and reflect light up all over them. They think this looks good when in reality, it actually looks terrible.
You never want light coming from below, unless it's extremely subtle. It's much better to have light coming in from the side.
This means that to use a bounce board correctly, it is best to use the dull white side of the reflector and shine it from the side of the actor's face instead of below. Rather than reflecting light onto the actors face, you are actually just adding some extra brightness to the side of their face.
But to really get a shot that pops, you can use two bounce boards on either side of the actor's face so that they shine on both sides and you have really great light coming in. It looks amazing and will get you excellent response to your shots.
Yes, you can sign onto another headshot photographer's website and learn the clothing to wear, and you can learn what the formatting should be for your headshots, but you're never going to learn the real secrets. The real things that allow those headshot photographers to charge so much for their work.
You'll only receive some of the benefits of those secrets, but they'll never tell you what those secrets are.
So what are they? What will make you successful as an actor? Do you really have to pay $600 to make it? The answer is no.
What will help you make it is not paying someone to take a great shot of you, nor is it just having good acting skills and being able to play the part. No. What will help you make it to the top of your acting career is understanding how the industry works, having a killer headshot, and knowing where to go from here.
Is having a great headshot everything? Absolutely not. But it is very important.
Having a great headshot is like having a great appetizer to a fine meal. The problem is, most headshot photographers and actors who have these shots end up stopping after the appetizer. Where's the fun in that?
You need the full package: the appetizer, the entree, AND the dessert. You need to know exactly what to do to be able to make it in the industry. And listening to a bunch of headshot photographers out there telling you to hire them over and over when their headshots don't book you solid isn't the way to go.
There is more to a successful acting career than just a great headshot and good acting skills. You need to understand the core principles of self promotion. That's the key and the truth. If you want to learn this, sign up for my newsletter. It's free and will teach you everything you need to know about it.
Are you a photographer starting out? You can't afford to hire an assistant for your shoots, especially if the shoots are unpaid? Well, you have one of two choices for using a bounce board:
Choice 1: ask your client to hold the bounce board. Although its not very professional, it's an easy way to do a shoot with a client without having to pay someone to help you. The primary problem is that your client might be annoyed that they have to hold the board, and they also might be impeded a bit. Just tell them that is the price they have to pay since they are getting headshots for such a low rate.
Choice 2: you can set up a bounce board system. Go to a photography store and purchase a lighting stand, a reflector, a reflector boom attachment, and a sand bag. It should run you about $125. What you need to do is to set up the bounce board so that it reflects without you needing to have an assistant to hold it up.
The key to using a bounce board is to know how to light up the face of the client without it seeming fake. Light coming from below will look terribly fake and won't show off the client in a flattering way. Instead, always have the bounce light coming from the side. It looks more realistic and will make the photo look much nicer.
After you use a single bounce board system for a while, you may want to look into a multi-bounce board system, where you use two boards to reflect light in a more flattering way, coming in from both sides of the client's face. The result is gorgeous and can really make your photos pop.
Did you know that if you are thinking of setting up a photo studio in NY, all you need is a fairly large room with big, south-facing windows? It's fairly simple and yields great results because the light coming in will be very soft and will look great on clients.
You don't need advanced lighting equipment or even a backdrop if you have a studio with large windows. Just shoot the client against some sort of backdrop, which can be anything. If you use an 85mm f/1.8 lens, it should be easy to blur out the background so the shot looks extremely professional.
Remember though, that darker backgrounds are best. Don't shoot with a bright background unless its a completely neutral white that doesn't cause vignetting or halos around the client. The reason to stay away from bright backgrounds is because they are very distracting for headshots. Darker backgrounds almost always look best (except flat black). Therefore, if you are shooting headshots in an indoor studio, try to buy and only use dark upholstery.
The whole idea of casting is what creates the need for headshots in the first place. If you're a first time actor, you need to understand how the whole casting process goes before you get into acting.
Casting, simply defined, is the act of choosing an actor for a role. The process, on the other hand, is much more complicated and is what's most important for you to understand.
The casting process works as follows:
1. You submit your headshot, the best one you think would work for the role you are trying to get. You can either mail in a hard copy or do an online submission, both of which work.
2. If the casting director who reviews your headshot likes what he sees (meaning that you like like the character they imagined could play the role), you may be called in for an audition. This will typically happen via telephone or email. Usually, auditions take place over the course of a few days, and for some projects, there are open auditions, meaning you can just walk in whenever you arrive. For other projects, auditions are scheduled at specific times.
3. If you do well in your audition, you may be called back. Typically, you are asked to bring in another headshot to your callback. The callback audition is much more in depth and the casting director is much more critical. They have narrowed it down to only a few top choices for the role, so the competition is fierce. Be sure to put on your A-game and be confident.
4. Assuming you did a great job, some places may hold a second round of callbacks and perhaps even more. But typically, the selected actor will be chosen for the role and you will sign some papers indicating you are being paid to act in something, and failure to show up for it could result in some penalty.
After the papers have been signed, the casting process is complete and you have been cast in the role!
A lot of clients come to a business because something about the business makes them stand out from the rest. Defining this characteristic is crucially important so customers can answer the question: Why this business instead of another?
The question about what separated my headshots from those of other headshot photographers is two-fold.
The first is that as a professional filmmaker and director, I know the importance of direction and I know what casting directors are looking for in headshots. But the most important thing is that because I have experience directing actors from behind a film camera, I also know how to direct actors from behind a still camera.
This relates because as of the time of writing this article, I am charging a significantly lower rate than most other headshot photographers in NYC.
Why is my rate so low? Primarily because I have not developed a large enough client base yet to charge more. However, those actors who have come to me understand that my work is vey good, and they refer their friends to me and those who have agents are also referred to me.
As a headshot photographer who has the skills I do with the low prices I charge, there is definitely a separation between myself and my competition.
Along with this, I am one of the few headshot photographers who gets powerful expressions out of clients that greatly increases their bookings and call backs. Most headshot photographers in Manhattan don't use my techniques for directing clients, techniques that are based directly off of Peter Hurley, the top headshot photographer in the world.
I hope my work speaks for itself when you make the decision to hire me. Remember that charging lower prices doesn't mean you are getting worse images. It just means the photographer might not currently be as established in a city. What if he just moved?
How do you prepare a child for their first headshot session? This is a difficult question because the answer differs based on how old the child is.
Typically, if the child is very young, there isn't too much you can do except make sure they look their best. They shouldn't be sick or hungry on the day of the session, and they should be in a good mood. Remember that to get good headshots, mood is everything. If someone comes to a headshot session unhappy, their photos won't turn out good unless the photographer really knows what he's doing and can lift people's spirits quickly.
Now, if the child is a bit older, such as between seven and twelve, it's a little more complicated to prepare them. Instead of simply making them happy, you have to do all of that in addition to making sure they follow my clothing guidelines and that they prepare some different looks.
Remember that if you're child is very young, they shouldn't try to play older characters as their main headshots. They can do it for fun because it's cute but they will likely be playing a kid role. For this you just want to be sure that they know what they are planning to play and that the photographer remembers to get some happy and some serious looks for their shots.
The most important thing though is that they come in looking happy and excited for the session because you can't get that session time back.
Today I learned a great lesson about the use of copyrighted images online. Never use copyright photos taken by someone else without their explicit permission in writing, even if you give them credit and a backlink to their website.
You never know what model release rights photographers may have had with their clients, or who they may have shot the images for, and your using of their images may violate their contracts and not only cause you to get in trouble, but them as well.
Fortunately I didn't have to learn this the hard way. I recently wrote an article about "Why Photographers Crop Off the Tips of Heads in Headshots," and I used a number of images from other big name photographers in New York, such as Peter Hurley, Chris Macke, and Taylor Hooper.
I decided to email Peter Hurley with a link to the article to ask his permission to use the photos and to see his thoughts. He replied asking me to please remove the photos as soon as possible because of model release issues and having to deal with backlash from clients, managers and agents, and I did so right away.
I learned that even posting an image up on a site for a few minutes is not worth the anxiety it could cause the photographers who took the photo. And of course if the clients did complain, things could get much worse.
So the lesson for today: ask always before posting an image you didn't take. The backlash and problems that can occur are just too great to take the risk. And it's wrong anyway to do it without someone's permission.
Here is a short list of tips if you are looking to get some headshots taken and you are an author:
1. Come in a good mood to the session. Eat well and get enough rest.
2. Make sure your confidence shows in the shot. Whether you're serious or not, it doesn't matter. You still need confidence to show.
3. Don't always think about getting the perfect shot. Relax! The shot will come and as long a you tell the photographer what you need, he'll make sure to get it.
4. Determine beforehand if you want anything specific. Typically, author headshots are less static than business and lawyer headshots. You have many more options and can play with it. It always helps if you have an idea of what you want before the portrait session.
5. Have a good time, and relax!!
Here are a number of quick tips to ensure you get some great headshots no matter who you hire as a photographer. Remember that lighting and photographic beauty are the least important parts of an actor headshot. What's more important in terms of whether you get hired is your expression and if the casting director thinks you can act.
Here are tips to ensure your headshot is great:
1. Be confident.
2. Know what you want before you come.
3. Experiment and play with the camera. Try new things.
4. Have a fun time and relax.
5. Stay engaged and actively involved with the shoot.
6. Be prepared by bringing everything you will need ahead of time.
7. Don't think too much about getting the perfect headshot. Have fun and it will come in time.
8. Don't look like you are trying too hard to force a look or it will look fake.
9. Come in a good mood and make sure you are well rested and not hungry.
10. And I'll mention again: show your confidence.
What will your agent say when you hand them a headshot that doesn't look good? They will get annoyed and say you should have them done again. This is why it's so important to have a great headshot, especially if you have an agent.
I can't stress the importance of having a good actors headshot because it's just so important if you want to get more than just background roles. Remember: you don't look like a professional if you just went to Kmart and paid $30 to get a photo of you. There is a difference in quality that agents can easily see.
Everything about you shows through the quality of your headshot. If your headshot looks shoddy and unprofessional and you don't have a great look on your face, the casting director or agent will think you're not serious about acting and will toss your shot in the garbage.
It's so important to understand this! There is no way you'll make it without a professional headshot and skimping on it is the same as punching yourself in the face.
What will your agent say if you walk in with a crappy headshot? You don't want to know.
This is a great question because typically, most actors don't really know how many shots a headshot session will get them, or how many they will need to have.
I'll start by saying that you only need one great headshot to break into the entertainment industry. But I'll expand on that by saying that you should ideally have at least two great headshots, one serious and one smiling. This means one theatrical and one commercial.
Based on the skill of your headshot photographer, you need to understand that you may need more or less shots. Typically, a novice headshot photographer will be trigger happy and will continuously shoot hundreds of shots and you'll walk out of your session with 700 or 800 shots, something that can be quite overwhelming to say the least, especially since out of those, every ten will look almost exactly the same. So really, you'll be looking at 70 or 80 different shots, of which you'll probably find 20 or 30 decent ones, and only 2 or 3 very good ones.
Now on the other hand, shooting with an experienced photographer may yield you with a lower number of actual shots but many more will be useable. For instance, someone like me would give you a disk with about three or four hundred shots during a three hour session, and you'll find 200 of them good, and maybe 75 very good ones, and about ten to twenty great ones.
If you shot with someone like Peter Hurley, who charges $1,100 for a session, you may get a disk of only 200 images but 150 will be very good and 50 will be great.
I recommend that you don't worry about how many shots you are getting but rather how many useable headshots you need. You should base your decision on the number of looks you'd like, so if you want two or three looks, you might need two hours. If you want less, then only an hour is probably necessary.
Think about how many shots you need in terms of looks and you'll be able to figure out how long the session should be.
This isn't an easy question because there are so many possibilities. The main thing to worry about when choosing a background for your actor's headshot is to think about whether or not there are distracting elements present.
Ideally, you want a background that draws little attention to itself, and there are only two things that lead to this result: a flat white background or a dark background.
Having a very dark background (not black) is good because dark colors don't demand attention. The brightest part should be the actor's face so that attention is immediately drawn there.
On the other hand, a flat white background is great because flat white is looked at as non-existent, meaning it feels as if there is no background. Therefore, the viewer's attention will be fully drawn to the actor in the photo. Just make sure the background isn't too bright that it "spills" onto the actor.
Hey I'm Martin, and my goal is to help you reach yours. I love writing content about career advancement, marketing strategies, productivity, and much more.