Theatrical Headshots Los Angeles
Theatrical Headshots Los Angeles
A professional Theatrical Headshot captures the essence of an actor in an interesting light and is the primary tool for actors’ to submit themselves for work. Here I will describe the basics of what a theatrical headshot is and give some tips and thoughts about taking theatrical headshots.
Technically a Theatrical Headshot is a photograph used by actors in order to submit for television and feature film work at an audition. Headshots are 8 x 10 prints of the performer where the face is clearly shown. The image could be three-quarter or a tight headshot crop. The expression in a Theatrical Headshot should be relaxed, confident and a true expression of the actor. It is important that the image be a reflection of the character of the actor. On a printed headshot there will also be the name of the performer . This is usually in the bottom right hand corner. Included with a headshot is a resume stapled or printed to the back of the headshot. This resume will include your basic stats. Commonly used stats are your height, weight, hair color, eye color, agency info, experience and your formal training. You will also include a special skills section listing off various things that you can do that would be helpful for any casting director to know.
A great theatrical headshot should have a juxtaposition to it that captures the unique and unpredictable nature of a personality. I find that the more time spent in front of the camera that this comes more naturally. It is best to treat the camera like a person. Look at the camera like it is an old friend for example. This may help you feel comfortable being yourself in front of the camera and express the essence of your character in a natural way.
There are several thoughts to keep in mind while preparing your clothing for a theatrical headshot session. The most important is that the clothing is not distracting from you. Clothing for a Theatrical Headshot should be muted such as grays, blacks or earth tones. Pick depending on your skin tone and hair color. I find that people with really pale skin should lean towards grays instead of blacks in order to limit the contrast between the clothing and skin. People with very dark hair should also consider not wearing too dark a shirt as their hair could end up blending with the clothing. I really like layered looks. Layering can give depth to the character of an actor. Remember not to add elements that might be distracting though. Clothing to fashionable can upstage you. Keep it generic but still interesting. Everything is a fine balance.
I believe that like anything in life, the more you do something the more natural it will become. In order to help actors prepare mentally for a theatrical headshot session I want to provide a couple of techniques. Ten minutes in front of the mirror, character identifying and relaxation techniques can help you take your performance in front of the camera to a new level.
I’m not one to sit in front of the mirror but I think for an actor it is priceless. If you are not comfortable using your facial expressions freely then try to do it in front of the mirror. To use your facial expressions as genuinely as possible is a serious skill. Try to tell stories with just your face. Look at yourself and think, “This is the genuine me.”
A great theatrical headshot will show many different sides of a person in one photo. Take out a piece of paper and seriously list all the characters you believe you could play. Pick out your three best characters and practice playing them. Then try to make a character that is a sum of all the parts of those three actors. When you are shooting your Theatrical Headshot every once in awhile become the character that is the sum of all the characters that you can be. Sounds crazy but try it.
The next piece of advice that I can give you is relax, be confident and just be yourself. Any time you feel stress do this: take a deep breath, roll your shoulders and close your eyes. I call this resetting. I do it all day long and suggest it as a way to stay in the moment and to not let your thoughts get the best of you. This should be fun.
At the beginning of my headshot sessions I provide more techniques that help actor’s perform in front of the camera. These are just a few ideas to get you started.