I have had all sorts of head shots during my 17 years in the business (Yikes!). Sexy (so it thought) looking, sultry, conservative looking, mommy…You name it! All of them were good pictures of me, but only a few were GREAT.
What makes a Great head shot?
Let me Count the Ways
The picture actually looks like you!
This may sound silly, but you would be surprised at how many people have their features “erased magically”, taking away that which is uniquely theirs. No I don’t like having crow’s feet around my eyes, but they are mine! Matter of fact, I was hired for a beauty product that netted me six figures for an 8 hour day of work. I LOVE MY CROW’S FEET.
Your eyes tell a story
Have you ever seen someone staring off into space? Their eyes have a vacant look. Since the camera captures everything, it will also capture the fact that you are not thinking of “your story”. What’s my story? I generally book work as a mom or someone of authority ( trust me people, I know a lot about lactose Basilius), so when I have my head shots taken, I am ALWAYS thinking about how I look at my children. Soft, smiley, warm and inviting.
An agent once told me that the reason Theatrical head shots are without smiles, is because they do not want the casting director, director or producers to have a preconceived notion about an actor. An uber-bubbly child can still handle playing a character that is scared, but if the picture shows lil’ Mister Bubbly….. You get my drift.
Shoot head shots with the intention of capturing ONE great image NOT six good images!
It took me a long time to realize, like children, we adults fatigue quickly in front of the camera. All of the pent up emotional energy we’re holding onto during the shoot is down right tiring. Parents standing behind the photographer yelling, “Smile Johnny”. Adults feeling insecure about not being able to see our images while we are shooting. It’s enough to throw anyone off their game.
TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF and go for ONE GREAT SHOT.
Shoot one or two looks per photo shoot, not 5 +!
Photographers make their money by offering their skills and abilities. Many of them will offer 3,4 or 5 or more looks for a steal of a price because they are reserving their time for you, and once you are shooting and in a “groove”, a couple more looks doesn’t take very long. When you order medium french fries, aren’t you always tempted to super size them? The same psychology holds true for head shots.
I tested my theory at the beginning of the year. I shot with a photographer that offered my SIX looks for $500 + $175 for make up. Way out of my price comfort zone ( remember, I am married to a photographer!) and my ability to stay focused. But I took one for the Commercial Mommy Team and shot with her. End result? I spent a total of $800 (proof book, 4×6 prints) and did not use ONE of the images! To add insult to injury, the photographer dropped her price in half 2 weeks later!
For the past few years I’ve only done one look photo shoots to give my agent a new shot or two every few months.
It has worked like a charm!
TO BE CONTINUED!