There’s no one more passionate about performing than ‘Perfect Harmony’ a sister tribute actor that hired me for the third time to take headshots for their agency submissions! We took time to put together a bespoke session that captured exactly what they needed for their mainland audition, so here are my best singer tips and headshot planning advice I shared with them.
Performer headshots are a clear photograph taken from the chest or shoulders upwards with a focus on expression and engagement with the camera. As a performer looking to update your headshot, you’ll already know that a quality photograph taken by a professional headshot photographer helps you stand out from the crowd of amateur headshots taken with your friend’s phone.
You’ll need at least two professional singer photos that highlight your talent and personality, they need to be professionally captured and are a true reflection on how you look right now.
- 1 showing your talent or niche as a performer
- 1 with a more commercial ‘smiling on a grey background’ style
A more rounded portfolio will include 5 or 6 photographs that are distinct from each other (i.e. not you in six different coloured tops) to showcase your versatility and on-stage persona.
Related: Studio Headshots for Girls
Your singer headshot portrait immediately tells the casting direction whether to put you on the ‘maybe’ or ‘reject’ pile. It’s the first thing they look at when sorting through submissions and you are going to want to impress with your engagement and personality. It also tells them how much gravitas, experience, and professionality you have towards your career, which is why amateur photography is frowned upon within the industry.
Once you have been accepted for an audition, the casting director will only want to see one 8 by 10 print of how you look. You must arrive at the audition looking exactly like your photograph.
Acting headshots are similar to performers in that they need a range of photographs that showcase who they are and what they are capable of portraying. I recommend between five and ten showing different sides to your personality or acting range.
For example, this client was often type-cast as a ‘friendly dad and the helpful neighbour’ but wanted to expand his roles to explore other aspects of his skill-set. The charming doctor? A thoughtful policeman? The loyal boyfriend? The car mechanic that saved the day? The list could go on.
In order to be successful in an audition, the casting director has to be able to visualize you in the role. You are more likely to succeed if you portray the character they are searching for. With ten character portraits, you’ll be able to choose the correct headshot to submit confident that you have the right photograph ‘up your sleeve’ for the right audition. My ‘what to wear ebook’ explains the different characters you may want to portray during your portrait session and I’ll show you how to manage your expressions to ‘nail the look’ perfectly.
I’m known for my ability to draw out personalities for camera-shy people and I’m even better at working with singers, performers, and actors who work well with direction.
Each agency has its own standards and we must follow them. It is vital that you do your homework and research what your agency needs. To help client’s prepare I have a series of questions I use before we meet which helps narrow down exactly what we need to create on the session.
Here are some questions that might help:
- Do you need horizontal or vertical?
- Do you want black/white or colour or both?
- Can the head be cropped?
- Would you like a closeup headshot as well as portraits showing the body?
- What background does your website use? Grey, colours outdoors?
Some clients worry when agencies don’t share their criteria, in which case we’ll look at the agency website together and follow what is published on their site. With this child actor, we decided on a plain tops and a grey background because all the female child actors were showcased in this way.
I suggest my clients update their headshots and book in for a refresher singer headshot photo session as soon as their look changes.
Georgina, with dark hair, in this post didn’t update her look during her visit to the studio because her ‘look’ hadn’t changed. However, her sister did because her hair colour had been updated.
If my clients cut or colour their hair, shave off a beard or drastically change how they look, I always suggest a mini-session to keep their portfolio relevant. Peter for example shaved his head for his actor headshots and will return again once his curly hair grows back.
Young children should update their headshot pictures frequently as they age and change so quickly, with younger children once a year is enough. Teenagers tend to transform as if overnight and might need twice a year if they have a growth spurt.