The Headshot: The Actor's Foot in the Door

For young actors entering the entertainment field, their headshots are one of the most critical components of their marketing toolkits. It is their introduction to agents and casting directors, and the right headshot can mean the difference between being selected to audition for a major role or being passed by in favor of someone else.

This is important for the success of your young performer’s budding career. Do not make the mistake of sending selfies or taking your child’s photograph yourself. Take the time to find a professional who can capture the essence and star quality of your child.


Choosing the Right Photographer

With so many types of photographers, it’s important to choose one who specializes in headshots for performers, even more specifically, one who is experienced in headshots for child performers. Understanding what the industry is seeking goes a long way in producing a quality photograph. Many photographers who do not have this specialty will add headshots to the long list of services they provide. When it comes to headshots, there is a big difference between a specialist and a generalist.

One good way of finding a photographer is to review their portfolio of prior work. Often, photographers will feature samples of their headshots on their websites. Look for the photographer’s ability to tell a story through their work. Are they able to convey special qualities of their subjects? Are the photographs compelling and engaging?

Experienced photographers typically work out of a studio. And online reviews will give you a good indication of how satisfied their former clients are with their work.


Preparing for Photo Shoots

While good photographers are able to capture an actor’s essence and personality through the right poses, lighting, and direction, it’s important for actors to have a solid idea of the image he or she is trying to convey. The secret to a successful photo shoot is to have a collaborative partnership between the subject and the photographer. When actors have a strong understanding of their unique qualities, they are better able to help the photographer produce magic.

Performers should bring several clothing options for their photo session. This makes it easier for the photographer to help achieve certain looks or styles.

Actors should arrive at the photo shoot well rested and not hungry. Alert, focused performers make better subjects. And those who are genuinely enjoying the session are more capable of being relaxed, having fun, and letting their authentic selves be captured on film.

Go easy on the makeup. Casting directors want to see the true image of the actor in the headshot. If performers look much different in person than in their photos, they could be rejected. And too much makeup can come across as over the-top and inauthentic. If an actor has blemishes or is having a bad hair day, the photographer can help with some basic retouching.


Making the Investment

While headshots are not cheap, they are worth every penny if they capture the essence of the performer. Choosing to save a few dollars by taking your own headshots or hiring a bargain photographer can result in losing out on opportunities. One fact to keep in mind: As kids grow, their looks change frequently, and they may need new headshots every six to twelve months. This can be quite an expensive reality.

If you are seeking a photographer for your child, do your research, understand what you are aiming for, and choose a professional who truly sees the special qualities of your young performer.