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Professional portraits for actors, corporate, business and more
The folks at the popular dating website OKCupid have a sister website called OKTrends which compiles “observations and statistics from hundreds of millions of OkCupid user interactions.”
While this article is from way back in 2009, their conclusion is still true:
…[the] unfortunate truth of online dating: no matter how much time you spend polishing your profile, honing your IM banter, and perfecting your message introductions, it’s your picture that matters most.
The article presents some great data in charts and graphs to illustrate how pictures can affect online dating interactions. Of course, since “attractiveness” is a pretty subjective thing, you might take all of this with a grain of salt.
However, especially with sites like Tinder, your picture is the first thing a viewer will see and you want to make a strong first impression. Is a “selfie” really the best way to go?
A client came to me recently after a divorce and said he was ready to start dating again, but had no good photos of himself. A week after our session I received this email:
I am on a date right now with a girl I met online because of those photos. Awesome!! – David
Quality photos for your dating profile make a difference.
The Internet is awash in articles on how to improve your LinkedIn profile. Many of them cite research stating that profiles with a picture are X times more likely to be viewed than a profile without a photo. Depending on the article, this might be seven, eleven or even fourteen times more likely to be viewed. I wasn’t able to find the specific research studies to back up these claims, but even if a photo was to just double the number of profile views, it would certainly be worthwhile (especially in a job search).
Once you’ve gotten that profile view, don’t you want to make a great first impression?
This quote from Tom Humbarger’s Social Media Musings blog sums it up:
The worst thing you can do on LinkedIn is to not have a profile picture, and the second worst thing you can do is have a profile picture that leaves an unprofessional impression…
The simplest advice is to look at your photo and ask yourself, would you hire this person?
New York photographer Peter Hurley has over a million views for his “squinch” technique video. The idea is pretty simple and Hurley says it will make someone more photogenic.
…it’s a good idea to squint ever-so-gently in photos (as you’d do naturally in a genuine, relaxed smile).
The folks over at PhotoFeeler did a small research study and guess what? The research says the squinch works. Pictures with the squinch increased a subject’s perceived Competence and perceived Influence scores.
Is the squinch right for you? Maybe yes and maybe no. It all really depends on the look you want for your photo. However, this research suggests its a technique worth trying.
A client pointed me at a great web video today called “The Do’s and Dont’s of LinkedIn Branding” by Kevin Nichols.
About 7 minutes into the talk, the Mr. Nichols states something I’ve been telling business clients for years:
“The most important part of your LinkedIn profile is your picture. It’s your first impression”
“…it’s worth hiring a professional.”
This is solid gold advice for personal branding.
Check out the full video here:
When I talk with actors about headshot prints I’m almost always reminded of the epic song/monologue “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie. Over the years I’ve memorized most of the 18-minute long song (yup, I’m a nerd). The following bit always comes to mind:
“… and they took twenty seven 8×10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us”
This quote actually tells you all sorts of useful stuff about what is needed for a good actor headshot print. You see, for actors, “8×10 Color Glossy Pictures…” are the standard calling card for auditions.
An actor might give away anywhere from one to six headshot prints at a single audition. Thus it’s a good idea of have a stock of prints on hand for those last minute calls. You might not need 27, but having 5-10 on hand at all times is a good idea.
Up until about 10 years ago, black and white prints were the standard for headshots because it was cheaper to print B&W in quantity. These days, color prints cost about the same and are the standard. Using a black and white headshot might be OK for theatrical work, but for commercial and film, it could suggest you are not up to date.
When making prints for clients I actually recommend getting a “lustre” print finish instead of glossy. Lustre is a finish in-between glossy and matte (“semi-glossy”?). The main problem with glossy prints is glare in different viewing conditions, scratches and fingerprints. Lustre prints resist fingerprints and will look better after bring handled a few times.
Acting/audition headshots are usually printed on 8×10 photo paper, with your name printed at the bottom of the page (center or right). A one-page resume – listing acting credits, training, stats and special skills – should be attached to the back the print, stapled at the top. Note that standard office/copy paper is sized 8.5 by 11 inches – so remember to adjust your resume print margins and trim the page down to 8×10 inches.
An actor’s headshot is the key reference point a casting person will use to remember you after an audition. They will flip though a binder of photos and remember your face and then remember the audition. Be sure your headshot is up to date and looks like you did at the audition. If your hair has changed significantly, it might be time for a new photo. Most working actors will get new headshots made every 2-3 years.
Arlo Guthrie probably never thought about these things, but perhaps we can start a new movement with high-quality actor headshots…
And friends… they may think it’s a movement.
And that’s what it is, the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and
all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come’s around on the
Glamour magazine recently posted a few great tips to look better for your next headshot or photo shoot.
“…avoid sparkle. It accentuates fine lines and ages you.”
“Do use an anti-shine product to keep skin matte. Oily skin gets shinier thanks to the flash.”
Although… I’m not 100% behind this comment (in the photo caption):
“Tilt your head so hair is visible,”
Head tilt will usually depend on the camera angle. Instead – I recommend working with your photographer to get a variety of angles that both accentuate your features and show your hair.
Check out the full article for products that will help get great results.
I get asked all the time if headshot sessions include half-body or full-body views as well as the standard head-and-shoulders view. Yes, of course… if that’s what you need.
The real question is do you really need a half or three quarter view of your body?
Typically actors and corporate headshots focus on the head and shoulders because that’s what people want to see – your smiling face. As you pull back to a wider view, your face gets smaller in the frame. When looking at thumbnails on websites, a full-body view will make your face tiny and perhaps unrecognizable.
For actors a half-body or wider view can be useful if you want to show off your physique, but only as a supporting image to your primary head-and-shoulders photo. Remember, the important thing about a headshot is showing what you really look like so you get called in for auditions. That determination is almost always made based on your face.
However, there are some exceptions…
Seeking male and female Extras with physically fit swimsuit bodies… include several current photos of you in swimwear, your age, height/weight…
…as is obvious from this casting notice. But again, unless you’re strictly a swimsuit model, then your primary headshot is not going to be you in a swimsuit. That is a supporting photograph.
If you anticipate needing something beyond the head-and-shoulders view, talk to your photographer before your photo session and figure out what will work best for your situation.
The Master Talent Teachers blog has a great article and video from Carolyne Barry this week on “slating”. For those who’ve not heard this term before, a slate is the actor introducing himself or herself to the camera before beginning their audition.
The post makes some great points about how actor’s can make a bad first impression with their slates.
For example, don’t be:
too perky or “cutesy” or if they have a forced smile on their slate, it appears that they are trying to be “commercial” or working too hard to be likeable, which makes them seem insincere, insecure or badly trained
In the end…
a slate is a positive introduction, not a presentation, announcement or line reading.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to sit down with one of Austin’s top commercial casting directors – Donise Hardy from A Casting Place. She gave me some great tips for actors getting new headshots.
If you’re not getting work, it could be you have a bad headshot.
In Austin, casting directors want to see a smiley photo showing teeth. The photo should be a clean, full-frontal view of your face and shoulders.
– Pastels and jewel tones are great color choices.
– Choose photos where the camera is at normal eye level (normal viewing perspective).
– Eyes should be right down the barrel of the camera with a fun, warm and happy expression.
– No makeup if subject is under 16 years old.
– No big jewelry. The picture is about your face, not your awesome necklace.
– No patterns, logos or glitter on clothing.
– Avoid all black or red
– No 3/4 shots
– Your name should be located in the lower right hand corner of the picture. Casting directors will put headshots in a binder and will look for the name in the right bottom corner when flipping through the book.
– Have your headshot set up with a white border. Casting directors or producers will often write notes in the white margins of the headshot.
– If you have agency representation, the agency logo should be on the left side of your headshot prints, opposite the name.
One last tip regarding auditions:
– For TV commercial auditions, dress the part. Be “IT” when you walk in the door.