Aside from your child’s talent and tenacity, a headshot is one of the most important components in any actor’s career. Agents and casting directors see them by the hundreds on a daily basis, so you naturally want one that stands out. Competition is fierce, and you only have a few seconds to make an impression. The trick is getting a photo that captures your personality (or type) and presents you in a natural and professional manner. This is all easier said than done, but there are strategies for getting the headshot that tells your story perfectly.
1. Find the Right Photographer
Every parent loves taking pictures of their children, but where your child’s career is concerned, headshots should be left to the professionals. And while it might seem like an expensive proposition, headshots should be looked at as an investment into the future of your child’s show business career. As with all things involving child actors, safety comes first and foremost, so do your homework to find reputable photographers. There’s no such thing as too much information, and networking with the parents of other young performers is a good way to start getting it. Whether or not they’re satisfied with their experiences, it can save you a ton of legwork and help narrow the field rather quickly. After initial safety concerns are satisfied, it’s important to find a photographer with whom your child feels comfortable. A sense of trust is an important factor in getting your young performer’s personality to shine.
2. Keep It Simple
The primary goal of headshot is to give casting directors and agents a glimpse of your child’s personality so they can quickly get a handle on their “type,” the kinds of roles for which they are best suited. And although we’ve been talking about the headshot in the singular form, it doesn’t mean you’re limited to a single photo or one type. Online casting has changed the game, and selecting a range of wardrobe options can help show your child’s different sides, but take care to avoid straying off course. Makeup, if used, should not be obvious. If your child wears glasses, they should wear glasses in some photos, and hair should be styled but not overblown. Nothing should draw the viewer’s eyes away from your child’s face. Above all, remember that you’re presenting a child performer, not a miniature adult.
3. Relax and Have Fun
While the finished product may project confidence and glamour, the work that goes into a good headshot can be time-consuming and tedious, particularly for very young child actors. With shoots that can take hours to complete, patience can be in short supply on both sides of the lens. Turning a photo session into a pressure cooker isn’t good for anyone, so help keep your child relaxed and engaged. It’s the best way to pass the time more quickly and allow their personality to come to the fore. To put it in terms your kid can understand, imagine you’re flipping through the channels on your TV or surfing the web. Each snippet of TV show or web page is vying for your attention, and the makers of those shows or sites know they often have just a second or two to pull you in. A good headshot works the same way, and a little forethought and effort can go a long way in separating you from the pack.
I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries. ~ Frank Capra