Specific Looks Work, Until They Don’t

[LA Headshot Photographer Vanie]

I’ve been blogging for over ten years

and in that time, the one consistent advice I’ve given is to make sure your headshots define specific characters you’ll be auditioning for.

IT’S THE ONE ELEMENT ABOUT THE SUBMISSION PROCESS WHICH HASN’T CHANGED while so much else has. In a pool of 3000 digital submissions, when the casting community doesn’t already know you, if your headshot isn’t specific, you likely won’t get called in for that character.

Alisha Martin: Edgy Down and Out / Blue Collar Mom / Hip Urban

This is until you accrue enough (quality) credits from high budget productions and therefore start auditioning for co-starring and principle roles.

When you start going out for bigger roles, you also begin working with reps who only submit for those bigger roles. Those agents and managers aren’t going to bother with day-player and resume building roles.

John Kviklys: Sports Fan / Blue Collar Worker / Best Friend

Ayra Farzid: / Corinne Laurence: Hip DJ / Suburban Mother

Timmy Lee: Hipster / Athletic

In fact, often times the way they successfully get their clients seen for bigger roles is by personally “pitching” their clients. Sometimes their reputation alone opens bigger doors for their actors.

IN THESE INSTANCES your headshots need to reflect the ability to either support the show, or carry it all together, which means you are now in the big leagues.

Corinne Meadors: Suburban Mom / Country Club Mom / BBQ Mom / Doctor

And when you play in the big leagues,

you have to look like you belong. This is when your headshot can embody the essence of a star in the making with not much else.

Kelly Hawthorne: Suburban Mom / Fitness

Hannah McBryde: Girlfriend / BBQ Mom / Young Secretary

Manager Karla Huff from Dream Talent Management puts it this way.

“…we started approaching things this way when we looked at major celebrity headshots – there aren’t all these different outfits to express type or personality in the ones we reviewed.  What we noticed is something deeper – a different approach – we are very aggressive with working together with our agents for auditions.  I pitch all of our top clients for anything guest star and above – in our pitch documents we detail what their strengths are, etc. and I typically personalize a pitch as to why we think they may be perfect for something.  The pictures I use reflect an attitude not a wardrobe.”

Andres Schabelman: Hip Professor / Edgy Musician

Art Ybarra: BBQ Grandfather / Edgy Cartel Boss

So when you’re being pitched for roles, it’s time to change your marketing materials to reflect your billing.? That’s when it’s important to work with a photographer who captures your star quality instead of the different characters you can play.

Carollette Phillips: Hip Urban / Michael Kaycheck: Edgy Mafia


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!????????


  1. Tricia

    Thank you so much! For me the hardest part is actually finding a good wardrobe for the looks.

  2. Jim DeAngelo

    Thank you for this post. I have always shot specific character headshots and, for me, it is worth the money and time invested. I also have been given permission to use some photos taken on set such as homeless and prisoner pics. To match shots, I let my beard grow during the week and if I need a self tape with no facial hair I just shave. Specificity cannot be emphasized enough. It makes easier for your photographer and you. Then the session is like jazz!! Thank you again. ????

  3. Cloe

    Thank you that was very informative!

  4. Micci Toliver

    I drove from San Francisco to work with Vanie Poyey.
    It paid off, big time. She knows how to work with actors. She’s the best. I’ll be back, Vanie;
    I like the uniforms that I brought the first time;
    thanks to you.

  5. Lynda Stein

    Thank you for this and it is my hope that when things come back our way for travel etc. I will make the trip to LA and work with you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *