How to Get a Headshot that Gets You MORE momentum, more auditions, and could even land you an Agent!
The Successful Actor Photo Series: GREAT SHOOT PREP IS ALL YOU NEED. By Angie Papanikolas, Actress, MUA & Headshot Photographer
THE HEADSHOT STORY GOES…
You know the story If you have EVER FORKED OVER THE MONEY TO FINALLY GET A NEW HEADSHOT with the purpose of any of the following: advancing your acting career, finally getting that agent, and/or in hopes of generating tons of new auditions on actors access or LA casting…and then AFTER…nada happened?! Cheer up. You are in the right place. So let’s go back to the story. I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel…so this won’t be too painful to read;) I’LL EVEN SHOW YOU ONE OF MY HEADSHOTS OR TWO THAT DIDN’T DO MUCH FOR ME
Back to the Story…
So you shoot these new headshots, and after your shoot, you are all excited about the results! You think the pics are going to be amazing! Finally, this could be just what you need to get you that dream agent, or more auditions, RIGHT?! THEN…..drum roll………KAPLUNK! BIG KAPLUNK!!! There is barely any new momentum than what you had with your shots BEFORE. Talk about frustrating!
And now, let’s add another element into this case. Let’s say the photos are really GORGEOUS! (Not bad- not so-so, but GORGEOUS! !)
SO Wait, What?! WHY??!!!!! Why didn’t something new happen?! Why aren’t they generating auditions or helping to get an agent when you submit?
Let’s Discuss why your Pretty Headshot May Not Be Working
Ugh! How frustrating in the first place. But now let’s use this to help us and begin analyzing why it may not be working. But FIRST: let’s first focus on the things you CAN CONTROL. Because truth is in this industry, there are a lot of things we can’t control in this industry so we MUST focus on what we Can Control!
WE CAN START DOING THIS BY FOCUSING ON WHAT WE CAN CONTROL.
We can’t control what we really look like or control if we actually BOOK a role, but we CAN CONTROL how we go about our work. WE CAN CONTROL choosing to work on our craft and do the work! And we CAN control how we go about our headshot session. Repeat after me. Take control of the things you can control and let the rest go! This is VERY important.
Ok, so about that headshot session that you can control. LET’S DIVE IN TO A PLAN! THIS IS WHERE OUR PLAN AND A GREAT SHOOT PREP PLAN FOR NEW, EFFECTIVE HEADSHOTS COMES INTO PLAY! READ ON FOR THE NEW HEADSHOT PREP GAME PLAN:
MAKE THE OVERALL SHOOT PLAN–NOW IT’S TIME TO MAKE A PLAN WITH SOME SIMPLE AND TRUE BRANDING TO GUIDE THE SHOOT:
DON’T LET THIS WORD BRANDING SCARE YOU. DON’T OVERTHINK IT. ALL WE ARE DOING HERE IS GETTING YOU AN OVERALL PLAN. THE OVERALL PLAN FOR A GREAT SHOOT AND PHOTOS IS TO DEFINE AND DECIDE ON YOUR LOOKS AND DIRECTION–WHICH WILL BE YOUR SIMPLE MARKETING AND BRANDING FOR YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AS AN ACTOR/ARTIST/COMMERCIAL ACTOR AND MODEL
In the next steps, we will take the time to really figure out what sort of vibe you will shoot THAT WILL CAPTURE YOU, and what sort of roles you should try to target. This will then effect the different wardrobe that you choose. I love an approach that talks about using your dream roles to help you decide on looks. BUT IT’S not just all about an idea of these dream roles. You must also tap into your unique, real qualities that you will bring into these roles that you will book. You have personality that only you have that make you unique. We will have you do some exercises to have you focus into these. Then, We will then focus on combining your inner qualities and bringing them to some genres and dream roles that are what you want to do and suit you well.
Then, we will have you fine tune them into “looks/wardrobe” dressing them up with hair/makeup and wardrobe to really “sell” them. It’s actually quite simple and keeps you on track for a great shoot. At the moment, this may sound a bit abstract, but read on. It will make more sense as you go through exercises.
I have an IG video series about these ideas. This is also how I approach client’s branding. (More on this in future blogs) You can check out my instagram for Actors where I discuss all these ideas in depth. It’s called TIPS FOR GREAT HEADSHOTS.
STEP 1- INNER REFLECTION WORK/INNER PREP WORK:
Take some time to think and reflect about your special, beautiful and unique personality, quirks, humor…take some time to think about this and reflect on who God made you. Write it down. Tap into it. This stuff iw the stuff that makes you book. It is your individual flavor and uniqueness that only you can do.
USE THE INNER PREP WORK FOR SHOOT PREP TO DECIDE ON YOUR LOOKS- BUT YOU CAN AND SHOULD ALSO DO INNER PREP WORK FOR THE DAY OF YOUR SHOOT TO GET CONNECTED AND BE REAL.MORE ON THAT LATER: FOR NOW LE’TS FOCUS ON THE PREP BEFORE THE SHOOT TO DECIDE WHAT DIRECTION WE WILL GO AND MAKE YOU A PLAN.
HOMEWORK: QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF FOR INNER WORK CONNECTION/GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Write down and answer the following questions:
So now….before you shoot and before you think about what sort of roles you want to play, Take some time to ask yourself AT LEAST THOSE 5 questions.
Get in touch with these things about yourself: Personality, vibe, soul, core, characteristics, even the way you talk. Really try to get a feel for yourself. Then at the shoot, bring the amazing qualities about you to the camera, by just being you. Even just tapping into this subconsciously and consciously will really help you “feel yourself” during your shoot and make you feel confident about you and who you are, and what you are doing. Because you have a ton to offer to these roles you will play. You are made by God and amazing.
Get in tuned with your uniqueness first
I think the getting in “tune” with you is first and foremost one of the most important things you can do in your Shoot Prep. It’s also useful to tap into this during your actual photoshoot as well. You can use this to not only help you figure out your vibe and what you should be going for in your shoot, but you can also use it to get in touch with yourself during your shoot so you are connected and bringing yourself to your photoshoot and your phtos. Use this the day of/day before/ and to prep- and can be used as a self love exercise about the awesome person God made you to be!
STEP 2- DREAM ROLES. WHAT DO YOU DREAM OF DOING IN YOUR CAREER?
NOW IS THE TIME THINK ABOUT THE TYPE OF DREAM ROLES YOU WANT TO PLAY. ALLOW YOURSELF TO DREAM BIG. WRITE IT ALL DOWN NOW.
Think about shows, genres, roles already been done, roles that you would want to see. Do you see yourself doing comedy, drama? What networks? Is there a show on now and a character you would just be amazing playing? What lights you up thinking about this? Write it down.
Next after you brainstorm and write and dream freely- go deeper. Write a character description for the role/show so you can get specific. After this, I’ll ask you in the next steps to also include next what you will bring to the role from your unique personality. Some roles will have you bringing certain aspects and others will have you bringing certain aspects. We all play roles differently because we are all different. Get specific. As in acting, the more specific the better we respond. So do the same here! Go ahead and write this down when you are ready too. May as well do it while you are on a roll writing now. But I’ll discuss this more below. If this confuses you, just stop at the character description for now.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER:
STEP 3: HOW TO PINPOINT YOUR LOOKS FOR YOUR SHOOT- USING THE TWO ASPECTS OF DREAM ROLES AND YOUR UNIQUENESS AS A GUIDE
NOW WE COMBINE THE WORK YOU DID IN CONNECTING WITH YOUR PERSONALITY, TRAITS AND UNIQUENESS AND YOUR DREAM ROLES TO MAKE YOUR HEADSHOT SESSIONS CONNECTED AND REAL DURING YOUR SHOOT. WE WILL ALSO USE OUR WORK TO CHOOSE AND DECIDE ON DIRECTION/LOOKS/WARDROBE
LET’S STOP BEING ABSTRACT HERE. LET’S TALK SOME WARDROBE AND LOOKS AFTER ALL THIS TALK AND WORK
How I like to approach finally deciding on direction and looks? First –let’s use your decided on dream roles as a main structure AND then layer in your uniqueness to it in a moment. I recommend asking yourself (and your agent) about the roles you could play, and also the roles you WANT to play! After you have chosen some that you realistically could play well –Go for your dream roles in look and vibe. That’s how I approach choosing looks. I ask, “what roles do you want to play?” And then find looks for those that you could book, and shoot those. You can even base wardrobe off shows, movies and characters you would totally play well! But remember the other aspect too of using your uniqueness and true self! Now, layer in the YOU factor as discussed above. (Yes I jumped ahead a bit above). Don’t forget that you would play that character in your uniqueness and quirks. Ask yourself, “what would I bring to that character that is unique to me?” THEN WRITE IT DOWN next to the role! You would maybe use some components of your personality for this role more than other roles. Now also write those key words down. Choose 4 dream roles that speak to you and showcase yourself! If some of them overlap- skip one of two or combine the roles into one look.
Next, dress yourself in the role! Wahoo! Now add your own vibe and even wardrobe you would wear to this character/role. Make it “inspired by,” and then make it your own! Then go a step further than wardrobe after you nailed it down. If a show is on or a movie is real, take a look at the poster or imdb set photos for inspiration. Then also make it your own in character for you. Also consider colors that look good on you! There are lots to colors and emotions they can evoke- but this article can’t cover this now. Stay tuned for another blog post coming soon with more on choosing colors for your headshots 😉
Go Deeper Now And Connect to the Role. Discover More.
Also write yourself a character analysis, character breakdown combining this role and the unique aspects about yourself you would bring to the role. Write it on a card and bring it to the shoot and tap into it all during the look. Act and get into the role and bring yourself to the role. The expressions will be connected and real! So there you go– there is a way you get looks/wardrobe above and here is also a huge tip on what to do during the shoot using more prep to go deeper than just a random idea of a “look.” Connect to the character, go deeper, Act and Bring Yourself to the Role and Your Photoshoot! It will make the world of difference in your photoshoot.
You can even do an inner monologue/ or scene using emotional prep and storyline during this shoot for the look. Do whatever works for you! Just an idea that works well for myself!
This is my system for getting a great shot!!!!! I hope it helps you. Please comment and write to me if it did. Tag me in your headshots!
It’s very good to take time before you shoot to tap into who you are, focus on what you want to do more of and showcase, and also to really plan your looks based on all this. Also, it’s great just before you even choose the looks you will shoot to get in tune with YOU! The REAL YOU! Soak into who God made you.
Ok, so now, let’s try this whole photo shoot thing again, but with a different and strategic plan! A plan to really market yourself and get some very authentic vibes of YOU! Forget about pretty. Most of us photographers shoot pretty. Meaning, we will get you flattering and striking shots. That is just going to happen. But what you need is the real, diggity, dawg YOU. We need real. Raw. YOU! The good, bad and ugly too. But of course, for your main shot, show more of your good side. Show yourself in a good light, even in a more friendly light (not Ugly haha). Unless of course, all you really do is the bad guy. But even the bad guy can be good. Think about that.
Now going back to the word, pretty. Pretty is well…don’t judge me when I say this, but pretty is pretty much the normal in LA and also in headshot land. And a lot of casting directors see a lot of pretty shots. Everyone is pretty. Shots are shot to “capture pretty.” Even if you don’t think so, you are pretty or handsome. But what everyone is not, well what we all are not– is YOU!
Challenging all actors: I challenge you to really dig in to find some very unique attributes about yourselves in your inner core. Pray about it. Ask God who you are. Get in tuned with the real you. Don’t hide behind the acting. After you dig into these things and really think about them, at your shoot, feel free to let it all go. You can do some acting at the shoot too, with putting yourself in a role, in the dream look/dream role you are shooting. Ask yourself, what am I going to bring to this role, how am I GOING TO DO IT that’s uniquely me? But also, I encourage you to also shoot some shots just as you– being your amazing self. See what happens and what sort of great shots you get by doing a combination of this. Let’s get some expressions and vibes that are uniquely YOU.
It is my hope that this will really help you to let it flow at your shoot, to have fun, and to be you and get some raw captures of YOU. Try it. Message me, dm me, tag me or leave a comment below! I’d love to hear how your shots turn out. Or if you would like to shoot with me, reach out. I’d love to help capture you.
Follow me on instagram @headshotsbyangelstudio for my video series about how to get a great actor headshot. My personal instagram is @girlrambo
Take the time to really be in YOUR shoes and bring your true self to YOUR PHOTOS. You do this often when you act. You bring yourself to the roles you play and connect to them. (If you are way different than the role, you don’t of course, but you know what I mean here. Hope you get what I am saying). You bring characteristics of yourself to roles you play, so why not bring yourself to your photos, too?!
I believe a lot of people don’t do this, or even thinks about this whole headshot approach plan. Or no one really talks about a process to do this. IT IS SO HELPUL AND IMPORTANT.
You can control how you go about your headshot session and you can control your prep work for your photo shoot, just like you can control doing the work to connect to a role in scene work.
Decide Now The looks to shoot that will best market you in who you are and what you want to do more of!Using the 2 Aspects to Do this:. 1-Your personality and uniqueness– and 2-Your Dream Roles.