This is an update I’ve been meaning to make for quite a while, but have only just found the time. Hopefully anyone looking to get headshots, even if not with London Headshots, will be able to take something from this to ensure they get the best possible pictures on the day.
As an actor, standing in front of a camera and pulling off a believable character is supposed to be your bread and butter. Your entire career is based on you being able to convincingly portray an individual who may be a million miles away from your real personality. The difference between a decent actors headshot and an amazing actors headshot is whether you can bring that skill into the studio on the day of your session.
Headshot Photography is maybe the only type of portraiture in which the photographer isn’t able to take 100% of the responsibility for a bad shot. I don’t mean to sound like I’m trying to admonish myself of any guilt for a less-than-perfect headshot, because trust me, even though I know my preceding statement is correct, it doesn’t stop me from taking 100% responsibility of it internally.
You are, by definition, at least partly responsible for your face. I can’t speak for all headshot photographers, but anyone who has been in my studio at London Headshots will know that I’m constantly working to get the right expression out of my clients. If you’re casting for a business role, we’ll discuss what kind of business person you might be, how that business person, if this were real life, would feel about having their photo taken. Would they be older and more comfortable, would they be younger and more arrogant or shy or proud? We work on facial expressions, eyebrow placement, the angle of the head, always refining, always improving, until you take on that role and we start nailing killer headshots.
I work to build confidence in my clients so that they can stand in front of the camera and just let it all go. I explain that not every shot will be ground breaking, that perhaps 9 out of 10 shots will, unfortunately, fail to bring world peace. I point out from experience that even when I’m shooting professional models, those models are missing more shots than they are hitting. I know that nobody likes staring into a large, gaping circle of blackness while explosions of light blast in their face, and I do everything in my power to make my client aware that this is just another day in the life of an actor; that they’re here to do a job, and my ultimate goal is for them to know that even though I’m standing in front of them taking shots, I’m not judging them when they get it wrong. And I’m really not. I show them tricks for how to drop the tension in their face, or how to mask it, I show them how to use the unique aspects of their facial structure to their advantage, or if they so wish, how to hide the things they don’t like, or don’t want to show. I teach them about micro-expressions and how to APPEAR confident (Much more important in a photograph than BEING confident).
After all of that though, the rest is down to you.
Getting your headshots done properly is trickier than it sounds. If done right, it’s more rewarding, more fun, and most importantly, more profitable. But you, as an actor, have to be prepared to work for it.
Listen to what your photographer is telling you. Soak it up, take it on board, and throw it right back at the camera.
Some people come to my studio expecting a couple of hours of blankly staring into the camera in return for a handful of black and white snaps. Not happening! The shots I take effectively go out with my name on them, and there’s no way I’m letting you leave with my handiwork unless my handiwork is shots of you looking the most friendly, approachable, confident, bookable you anyone has ever seen.
If you come and shoot at London Headshots, I’ll be going into the shoot and giving it 100% from start to finish. If you give even as much as 80% back, the chances are we’ll be getting some great headshots. But, if you’re prepared to give it everything, I guarantee you will get the best headshots you’ve ever had.
If you don’t come to London Headshots, and you go to someone else, give them 100% as well, because headshots are an investment, and what you get back is always proportional to what you put in.