Headshot Horror and How to Deal With It: Advice from a Fellow Thespian.

[Headshot Photographers by Vanie]

Guest Blog by my client Joanna Kelly


Born and raised in Houston, Texas and a graduate of New York University, Joanna Kelly now resides in Los Angeles where she works as an actress and writer. Favorite past roles include the shows Comedy Bang Bang, Scandal, and the Dierks Bentley music video Drunk on a Plane. Joanna also overshares in a blog, contributes to FLIP Magazine, and is working on an ensemble comedy movie script. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, yoga and drinking copious amounts of wine.  www.waitingforlefty.blogspot.com



Headshot Horror

SO MANY ACTORS get stressed out about taking headshots. I get it! It is a lot of money, time and effort, and the end result is the one thing you must have to get a job.

Ok, it isn’t the only thing that gets you the job, but it is your first impression and hopefully gets you in the door for an audition. A lot rides on whether or not you can take a good picture.

I can remember my first set of headshots (they were in black and white!) and how I didn’t know what to do, and how nervous I was. I ended up with a nondescript and “gorgeous” picture, but one that failed to get me in the door to auditions.

Each subsequent headshot session, I tried to figure out how to improve. A few years ago, I figured out the key– the one thing that made headshot day a favorite for me… acting! (duh.)

Sophia Shajari: Troubled Teen / Best Friend

Lisa Costanza: Blue Collar / Suburban Grandmother

HERE’S WHAT TO DO. Before you even go into the headshot session, prepare like you would for a huge audition. Research your role. Look at the shows currently on TV or movies in the theater and find the roles that you would be (should be) cast as.

What is that character like? What is the character’s essence? What type of clothes does that character wear? What is their inner monologue?

Now imagine yourself on the poster for that show/movie. How would that advertisement look? Think about this when you choose your clothes for the photo shoot.

Nate Sully: Casual Dad / Coach / Cowboy

WHEN YOU GET TO THE SHOOT, make sure your makeup and hair fit your movie poster/tv show advertisement. Talk to the photographer about your character.

Bring music that gets you into character, relaxes you, and that won’t be distracting from the job at hand. Now is the time to be the actor that you are and create!

As actors, one of the basic skills we learn from day one is how to deliver a monologue. It is one of the best ways to showcase your acting ability without needing any supporting players.

We learn how to focus on a spot just above the audience’s head where we imagine there is a person we are talking to, and most good actors can deliver an award-worthy speech to (essentially) an imaginary friend.

Lisa Hemmie: Casual Business / Therapist

Virgo Phillips: Customer Service – Helpful Employee / Outdoorsy Girl

When you get in front of the camera for headshots, the character you have prepared should be looking at and communicating to someone, same as you would with a monologue.

When you deliver a monologue, do you worry about your hair, your smile, the tilt of your head? No!

Let the photographer do their job and worry about those things. Any photographer worth their ilk will capture your character’s essence in the shot. You, Mr. or Ms. Actor, concentrate on what you are great at – ACTING!

Michael Simpson: Politician / Construction Foreman – Blue Collar

Another thing that helps with nerves is to imagine, or act as if you have the job already. You are Mariska Hargitay on SVU and the network needs you to do some promotional shots.

You are Andy Samberg and Brooklyn 99 is re-doing their stills for Hulu. Another day at the office for the star!

Sure, they have stylists that give them the clothes to wear, and hair and makeup teams that work magic, but when they get in front of the camera they still have a job to do, AND SO DO YOU.

I always think that any day I get to be a working actor is a good day.

That’s the dream we all have, right?

Well, photo shoots are part of that! Yes, you are paying for the privilege, but that day you get your pictures taken you are not a waiter or a retail sales associate or an Uber driver. Headshot day is a day you are an ACTOR.


I love helping you by putting out this free information (often written on weekends and evenings) so please help me spread the word by commenting and or sharing this post on your social feed!🙏🏻



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