A product shot for a personal project for a member of the United Irish Societies of Greater Cleveland, the committee that organizes the annual Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This is the awards medallion presented to unit leaders and others who distinguish themselves either in the parade or for their selfless work assisting the committee.
Headshots aren’t what they used to be – black and white, 8×10, printed on glossy photo paper and handed out at auditions. Technology has changed all of that.
Nowadays, a headshot can come in a variety of formats, sizes and genres. There’s the classic black and white 8×10 – or 5×7. Or the color 8×10. Or the four-shot composite – B&W or color – with one large image and three others to either show the “off-duty” actor and three character shots OR a three or four image composite to show a bit of the actor’s range.
The printed headshot is approaching dinosaur status. Yes, they’re still used like business cards – sometimes with an actor’s resume on the reverse. But most times now, a headshot or headshot composite is an electronic document submitted via e-mail or online.
The important thing is that performers have SOMEthing to submit. And I don’t mean images captured with an iPhone or an Android. Not because they’re captured with a smartphone camera – there is no argument that camera phones are getting better and better all the time. As a photographer, I welcome that. The stuff I’ve been able to capture on my iPhone 6plus is phenomenal. And that’s a good thing.
What I’m talking about is the operator. Equipment is equipment. A professional image you’re relying on to get you roles – a.k.a. business – still has to be captured properly. A crappy image is a crappy image no matter how expensive or complicated the camera you use for the capture. If you don’t know how to light it, how to compose it, how to process it after the shoot – then the result will suffer. That’s where a photography pro comes in.
The triptych image above is but one form for submitting a headshot to prospective theatrical decision-makers. There’s probably no wrong format. But whatever format you choose, the pics had better be good. That’s your edge. That’s what will set an actor apart from the rest. Not the configuration, but good images that reveal you – coaxed by a patient photographer during the shoot, lit properly and processed in the digital darkroom to accentuate your best features.
If you like, you can leave it to chance and use your phone. Or you can make a small investment in your career and let a pro help you. It’s your choice.