Los Angeles Headshot Photographer: Vanie Poyey writes.
What exactly is the purpose of a headshot? I know it sounds silly to ask that question but if you will, let’s deconstruct what happens to your headshot from start to finish. Promise I’m going somewhere with this.
First, you likely share the images with your agents and after they’ve made their choices, you probably pay a retoucher or your photographer to retouch some of your images. Then you take steps to print a few 8x10s as well as upload your headshots to casting sites like Actor’s Access. After your images are uploaded to casting sites, your agents submit each image according to the breakdowns and you cross your fingers and hope they’ll work.
THEN the casting director looks through thousands and thousands of submissions (often for one role) in thumbnail form, clicks on possible matches and decides if your headshot is sorted into the “yes, let’s call her in” pile or not.
How do they decide this?
One, your image looks the part described in the Breakdowns. Meaning, if the description is of a “strong woman in her 40’s, light hair, that is heading the investigation team,” and your headshot looks like the strong woman in her 40’s with light hair and could be a team leader (dare you to find the headshot with this description below and leave a note which one it is!) then your headshot is likely to be clicked on. From there, other variables such as your resume, etc. come into consideration and whoop, within milliseconds, your image is selected for a call or passed on.
So tell me this, does it make sense to obsess and spend money retouching the details in your headshot that no one else really gives a hoot about and worse, has no bearing or influence on getting you in the door? Does it really matter if one ear is slightly lower than the other, or if you have a lazy eye on one side of your face? The small scar on your forehead, the mole on your cheek, the one wispy flyaway, the gap in your bangs, the color of your tongue, the contouring on your face, the crooked nose? The list of retouching requests that have come across our desk is endless. The answer is nope, not a bit, and it’s crazy to think casting has that much time to dissect your photo!
We all have a little vanity in us. I’ll admit, I’m definitely guilty of softening those smile lines on my own portrait, but I draw the line at fixing my nose so it looks straight. I am who I am and if I were an actor, it makes no sense to scrutinize my image with a magnifying glass for hours on end because casting will only see me as someone who fits the part or not, and in one millisecond will put me in the ‘yes’ pile or the ‘no’ pile before moving on. It’s that simple.
Sure a little basic retouching makes us all feel better about ourselves but if you’re spending almost as much on retouching as you are on your photo session with a long list of requests, you’ve lost sight of the purpose of a headshot and perhaps need to reexamine the big picture.
Give us your thoughts in the comments and let’s keep the conversation going! Also, see sample headshots below!
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