Danny Johnson (Broadway Actor) gives expert video advice on: What is a 'headshot'?; Can I take my own professional headshot picture?; How do I find a good photographer to take my headshots? and more...
What is a 'headshot'?
A headshot is an 8 by 10 photograph of yourself. It's almost like a business card. When you go to auditions to be seen by talent directors, talent buyers, that's your calling card.Your headshot, mine looks just like this. It's a black and white, 8 by 10. It can be a color photo as well. Color photos are very popular right now. You see I am kind of old-school.On the back of it you would have your resume which would list all your different acting credits. You did a play at the Goodman Theater or at the Boston Shakespeare Company and all of that stuff would be listed along with other pertinent information about you.
Can I take my own professional headshot picture?
You can't take your own picture for your own professional Headshot, I'm sorry to say. You know, this is a profession acting and you really need to have professionals supporting you in your professional activities. So hire a photographer, for sure, hire someone who is taking a lot of it, a lot of Headshots of actors and has an understanding of what the talent buyers are going to be looking for. Most cities will have photographers who are adapted to this, you know, who take professional pictures of actors.
Can I use one type of headshot for film, TV and theatre?
You can use just one type of headshot for film, TV, and theatre -- but not if you really want to work that much. I think it's a good idea to have different photographs for film, for television, for theater. If the part you're going in for is some tough guy hitman in a movie, you don't want that spritely, commercial look that you have with a suit and tie in your commercial shots. If you're going in for a television series then you probably don't want that, if you're going in for a television sitcom for example you don't want that heavy film look where you look like you're ready to pull out the gun and shoot everybody in sight. There are different forms and every one of them has a different touch. So you want to be able to tailor your look to whatever the particular job is.
What should I expect from a professional photographer?
You would expect them to have a professional studio, first of all, to shoot you in. And during the course of this session you would expect them to create the poses that are going to create that are going to be most advantageous to your gaining work. You might have a particular shirt that you really like to wear, and yes, it's great to have some pictures in that particular shirt, but the photographer might see a different shirt that will help communicate who you are better in the picture. Maybe it's just a simple thing as like, "Well, I love my gold shirt.", but you know, the gold shirt just doesn't look good with you in this picture. So, let's try the red one or the blue one. And, you really should trust the photographer's judgement on that sort of thing, and they should have good judgement on that sort of thing. They'll probably shoot anywhere from one to two, maybe three, maybe even four rolls of film and you would expect after the session within in a timely fashion of a week or so to receive back from them a contact sheet that had all of the different smaller versions of the pictures that they took. After which you could pick out the ones that you want and you would expect them to print 8"x10"s of the ones that you want that you would later then go have mass produced so you could take them to auditions.
How much will I pay for professional headshots?
Well Headshots varies quite a bit, depending on the level of photography you have: their aclaim, or fame. Prior to the digital photography boom, you could expect to pay, for high quality, top-notch photographs, anywhere from five to eight hundred dollars for your session. But now with the digital wave--you know, photographers don't have to spend as much time in the darkroom: developing contact sheets, and going through everything like that--they can do it all on a computer much quicker. And that has lowered the cost of really excellent looking professional photographs. So, I would say that you could expect to pay anywhere now between a hundred and fifty, and seven hundred dollars for photographs.