Picking the perfect shot

Posted May 27, 2011

Last blog we discussed getting ready for your photo shoot and shooting your headshots!  The next step will be to chose the perfect shots to use from the session.

At Azalea, we are looking for a one really awesome photo that you will use when you attend auditions.  This is your signature look and often the first image of you that a client will see.

Headshots are like fashion and the ideal changes and evolves.  When I started in the industry, headshots were always black and white.  A color image headshot at an audition would have been the height of tacky.  However, that was over 10 years ago and now the exact opposite is true!  A good headshot is always in color.  A client wants to see a true representation of your skin tone, hair color and eyes.

Nearly all photographers shoot digitally which means full color.  That makes it easy!  Digital photography can be converted to black and white for artistic reasons, but again, we don’t want that for a headshot.

Your photo shoot will have included shots that are full body, waist up, shoulder up and sometimes just your face.  You will have smiles, grins, smirks and more serious expressions.

Every market is different, but I am going to focus on St Louis and the midwest for today.  You may love the shot of you with a closed mouth, strong jaw, or slight smirk, but it shouldn’t be your headshot.  I can guarantee you that when I send a client a photo of someone with a closed mouth, the immediate response is “What’s wrong with their teeth?”   The assumption being that you must have some serious orthodontia issues if you don’t want to show your pearly whites.

For this reason alone, your headshot needs to be a teeth showing smile.  A smiling shot is also warmer and more approachable, which is another huge selling point in the midwest market.  I love an enigmatic expression more than anyone, but I also know that those shots just don’t book jobs like a smile.

You want the focus of your shot to be your face.  It is, after all, your money maker!  So we need to avoid full body shots as your headshot.  Your headshot may be a waist up look or it may be shoulders up, it simply depends on what image has the best feel.

Speaking of “feel”, this is when headshot selection stops being a precise science and becomes more of an artistic endeavor.  Certain shots have an energy that I just know a client will respond to.  This part of the selection process is where you really need to rely on your agent’s eye and experience.  I have looked at thousands of photos and at this point in my career I don’t even consciously think of the “rules” anymore, I simply recognize the right shot when I see it.

So, what about those full body shots and all the different looks you have?  Those are your supplemental images that are perfect for use on the website!  It’s how you show clients your awesome range.  A few things to keep in mind when choosing these additional shots.

Do you have a good mix of angles and expressions?  It’s not worth it to have the exact same smile and eyes in two different outfits.  It’s better to have different expressions and ambiance in each shot.  Often we can make images feel unique by converting to black and white or cropping.

Are there any odd body angles or missing limbs?  Is your foot bent in such a way that you look like an extra from a medical drama?  Is your arm tucked behind your back so that it looks like maybe you only have one arm?  It may sound silly, but these sorts of things can turn a client off, sometimes without them even realizing why.

If you are looking at the camera, is it a strong look?  Clients don’t want to look at anything that could be a snapshot.  Your photos and your gaze need to look intentional.

Your headshot is your calling card in this industry.  My goal as an agent is to help you have the best representation of you that I can.  Sometimes we may disagree on a favorite shot, but keep in mind that is hard to be objective when looking at yourself or your child.  I’m looking at photos with the client in mind and I don’t have an emotional attachment to your physical traits that you might have about yourself.  Try to be open minded when looking at your shots and keep these ideals in mind!