Commercial and Theatrical Headshots by Vanie Poyey
I wish I could write like Bonnie Gillespie! That is a direct quote from one of her newsletters. If you’re an actor, and you’re not subscribed to Bonnie’s newsletter, you are missing out so click HERE and subscribe! She’s a former actress, current casting director, blogger and contributor to a weekly column on Actor’s Access called The Actors Voice. Her tag line is, “Living my dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs”. It’s brilliant and describes her to a tee. If you start reading her blog BonBlogs, via her weekly newsletters, you might pick up a little inspiration the same way I did. Her article titled “But I have range” really hit home for me.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve consulted with actors that want a session with 8, 10 or 12 looks. Really? What does 12 looks, or to be more specific 12 outfits, get you? I’ve always believed that the more specific you are (based on your age range), the greater the chances are of getting in the door. In her recent article titled “But I have range!”, Bonnie confirms this. Having headshots of yourself on LA Casting or Actor’s Access with 12 looks only confuses those who are in a position to give you a job. Do you want to be a jack of all trades, mediocre at everything you do, or do you want to specialize in the few things you do really really well and get to be known for those stereotypes? Wouldn’t you rather hire a photographer that specializes in headshots rather than a friend who shoots a little architecture, a little fashion, some cars and oh headshots too?? Which photographer do you think would do a better job at capturing a marketable headshot? Which photographer immediately has more credibility? Same concept applies to you! You need to capitalize on your stereotype and figure out how to market yourself as a “Brand” so that casting can clearly see the roles you are right for.
My associate photographer who is also an actor had about 10 photos of himself on his Actor’s Access profile. He wasn’t getting too many auditions and my suggestion was to narrow down the number of images on his profile and to keep only images from his last photo session. I suggested making sure none of his images have the same expression or the same outfit. I told him that the viewer needs to quickly and clearly identify his characters and that having the same expression with different outfits from different photo sessions, sometimes years apart, actually confuses the viewer. When there is that much range from picture to picture, the viewer is left wondering what you really look like and what you are marketable as.
So guess what. If you make it hard to identify your brand, casting would rather pass on your image and go to the easy and obvious choice.
Be smart about your image. Just as I’m not a fashion photographer or a car photographer while I shoot headshots, you’re not the lawyer, the dad, the blue collar guy, the young Disney kid, the yoga instructor, the edgy hero, the anti hero, the guy next door and the surfer dude all at the same time. Identify your brand and make it clear to the viewer what you can easily delve into and your chances of booking jobs will increase tenfold!
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