We've talked a lot about how a strong headshot can help show what makes you unique to a casting director, make you stand out among other actors in an audition, and even those photo flaws that may take away from showing these things to directors. Today we want to switch our focus to what casting directors are actually looking for when they are auditioning; the actual purpose of those headshots.
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.
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