Pilot Season is coming! Is your young actors headshot up to date?
Headshots can be expensive, but they are important. A good headshot feels natural, and gives a sense of how an actor REALLY looks. Ideally it captures a sense of their inner spirit. Agents, managers, and casting directors want to look into the eyes of an actor in a headshot and feel they are connecting to someone real.
Some tips for a great headshot:
- For girls, keep makeup at a true minimum, if any. Kids are cast to look like KIDS!
- Teens can wear natural makeup
- Hair color and length should be as close to current as possible (or update!)
- Wear solid color clothing
- Check references of a photographer before you use their services
- Play music your child loves during the session: it can help them relax and make better pictures
- Wear black, white, or busy patterns
- Feel pushed into using a photographer your agent or manager requires
- Use “glamour” shots for kids
- Print too many photos at once: you can always print more!
- Print your child’s resume on the back of their headshot
If your young actor is looking for theatrical work (TV/film) their photo should be a bit “blank” looking. Commercial headshots are “smiley.” So if they are looking for both theatrical and commercial, you will need two looks.
Because young people change so quickly, headshots really need to be updated once a year or so, which is why it’s important to find an affordable photographer, and not order more prints than you are likely to need. A good photographer will give you a contact sheet (digitally these days) for you to choose your favorite shot or two. Many include a slight retouch on one or two images after you’ve chosen them.
Then you should be given the finished images on a disc (or in a file) to give to the printer of your choice. Fashions change and opinions vary, but the basic result these days should be an 8×10 color photo of your kid with their name printed on the border. The printer can do the simple graphic set-up of the border and name for a small one-time fee. The finished headshot will end up stapled to the back of the resume.
A word of caution: please only use a photographer with a good reputation or references. There are unfortunately some awful stories out there. Make sure they would never use your child’s photos inappropriately, or ask them to pose in a way that makes them (or you) feel uncomfortable. If that happens, walk out. My experience is that most good agencies will be happy to share their list of recommended photographers, even if you are not yet a client.
If there appears to be some kind of financial arrangement between your agent or manager and the photographer they want (or worse, require) you to use, this is a red flag. You probably need to find better representation. Clearly they are placing their own agenda above your child’s. Legit agents and managers do not require you to use a certain photographer to whom they are financially connected.
Should you print your child’s resume on the back of their headshot?
I know some people believe that the resume should be printed on the back of the headshot because it is “nicer,” but very few people actually do this because it’s just not practical. The minute anything changes on the resume (a new role, a new coach, different contact information) then you are wasting expensive photos instead of inexpensive paper. Printing the resume on the back of the photo instead of stapling it will not increase your odds of being cast-!
Finally: do you really need to use a professional photographer? Can’t you do it yourself? While it is technically possible for you to create a strong enough headshot on your own, unless you are an unusually gifted photographer and use first rate printing services, I would not recommend it. The headshot is the first thing a casting director sees when considering your child for a role, and if it doesn’t grab them, that is as far as the process goes. The resume will not even be glanced at.
And it’s also important to use a professional photographer who specializes in headshots for actors. The look is distinct from portrait photography.
So give your kid a fighting chance and spend a little money getting them a great headshot. When you consider the time and resources spent on all the rest of it—travel, auditions, time away from work or school—it’s worth it.
Pilot season is almost here—be sure your young actor’s headshot is as ready as they are!
Are you thinking about how to help your child become an actor? Or are you a young actor yourself?
My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!
Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.
Invest a little in your kid’s future today.
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