How to PREPARE FOR GREAT ACTOR HEADSHOTS THAT WORK FOR YOU! FOLLOW THE PROCESS TO get an AMAZING ACTOR HEADSHOT SESSION 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
You know the story if you have ever forked over the money to finally get those new headshots you have been desperately needing to get your career moving or to the next level. Maybe the purpose of the session is any or all of the following: to advance your acting career, to finally submit to get that agent, and/or in hopes of generating more auditions on actors access or LA Casting from your agent submitting you or you submitting yourself. But then AFTER you shoot, submit, upload….DRUM ROLL…. nothing changes much?!!!!! What happened? Well if this has happened to you, you are in the right place so cheer up and let’s take some control back. Let’s go back to the story. I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel… and this won’t be too painful to read. I’ll even show you one of my headshots (or two or three or 4 haha) that didn’t do much for me– so I understand your pain if this has happened to you. You are not alone and I have developed a system to help get amazing shots with a plan and purpose.
Back to the GOOD ‘ole Headshot Story…
Let’s Discuss why your “Pretty” Actor Headshot May Not Be Working
Ugh! First off, how frustrating is this in the first place! But– let’s now use this to help us begin analyzing WHY it may not be working for you. To analyze, let’s first start with a key factor for success and longevity as an actor: The key is a great mindset. Let’s first start with–and focus on the things that we can control. Because, truth is in this crazy and amazing industry, there are alot of things we can’t control; therefore, we must focus on the things we can do to add to our career and that we can control.
Mindset is Key for Actors Because Many Things are Out of Our Control in This Industry. We as Actors must Develop a Great Mindset, Strong Work Ethic, Positive Habits and A Positive and Healthy Attitude.
Actors must develop a great mindset: focus on what we can control:
We can’t control what we really look like or control if we actually book a role, or if a new “pretty” headshot is going to generate more work, but we CAN CONTROL how we go about our work and craft. WE CAN CONTROL choosing to work on out craft and to connect to the work and do the work! And we CAN CONTROL how we go about our next headshot session and finding ways to do things different! Forgot the old shoot and headshot- maybe it didn’t work great or for some reason or your photo isn’t generating alot of new opportunity. Well now its time let’s plan a great session and maybe even try working with someone new for another photo that is different than the last.
Repeat After Me:
“I am taking control of the things I can control and letting go of the rest!” What will be will be and I’m surrendering it. This is very important.
So now that we discussed that hugely important element and got it out of the way…so about that headshot session that you can control?! READY!? THERE IS ALOT OF PREP WORK TO DO- SO Let’s plan it out! LET’S DIVE IN!
HOW TO PLAN TO GET AN AMAZING ACTOR HEADSHOT SESSION
tHIS IS WHERE A GREAT SHOOT PREP PLAN FOR NEW, EFFECTIVE HEADSHOTS COMES INTO PLAY! READ ON FOR MY HELP FOR A NEW HEADSHOT PREP GAME PLAN: BE PATIENT IT WILL ALL MAKE SENSE TOWARDS THE END OF THE BLOG ARTICLE.
IT’S TIME TO MAKE A PLAN WITH SOME SIMPLE BRANDING AND CORE ELEMENTS OF YOUR PERSONALITY, VIBE AND DREAM ROLES TO GUIDE YOUR SHOOT:
ACTOR HEADSHOT PREP SESSION GUIDE WITH Actor, Photographer and Makeup Artist, Angie Papanikolas
First, Don’t let the word “branding” scare you, ok! I get it! You do so many things as an actor and don’t want to feel locked in– or you can’t figure out your own branding but you can for everyone else… I get it! Well I am here to tell you not to overthink this! When you go through this blog article, it will help guide you to branding made simple by helping plan a shoot and look that will capture you and what roles you play. It will also lead you to actor prep work and personal prep work, and ways to connect during your shoot and before. But don’t overthink it ok– and don’t stress! All we are doing here is getting you an overall shoot plan with some simple marketing. The overall purpose in this plan here is for a great shoot and photos that show YOU and standout! So I will ask you to go through with me some questions that will help you define and decide your looks and the direction to best market you, and questions about who you are as a person too (not just an actor), and what you do and what you want to do more of. This plan is effective for a great shoot and headshot session-if you follow it. Simply put, after you go through it, it will serve as a simple and effective marketing and branding plan for your professional services as an actor and/or model. To sum it up: Show them who you are and what you do (or want you want to do). Simple as that– but let me walk you through it… Read on…. Or contact me for a consult and I will walk you through this in my consult session!
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.
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
Get in tuned with your uniqueness
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.