This Actor's Soapbox : The Thing About Headshots...

This Actor's Soapbox : The Thing About Headshots...

Katie Harden

Head shots. 

You know you need them but where are the best places to get them? Because, damn they cost so much! 

I went to an audition and saw a beautiful head shot. The girl had to be about eighteen and I asked her how much she paid...she said $450. Who the HELL is going to pay almost $500 for a head shot?

Obviously you would have to save your money for something but I mean that's half of the rent money right there. I know nothing of apartments but my wild guess is that it's way more than that and then some. 

Luckily I have a friend by the name of Barry Morgenstein who is a fantastic head shot photographer. He's taken pictures of everyone from Meryl Streep to famous rockers. He has great prices and he's such a sweetie. Try like $200, way, way better. 

But the worst thing about the industry and head shots is whenever you change your look, your hair, whatever you have to have new ones done. It's like, hello! I'm here in person, can't you see it's me? I never dyed my hair I simply cut it a tiny bit shorter. I don't understand that. It just baffles me. 

Obviously it's so they know what you look like now as opposed to a year ago but a few months ago? Really? 

I have short, shoulder-length hair right now and I'm growing it out specifically for a part I want. Plus? I like my long hair. I cut it short for a Walking Dead parody I was cast in as Tara Chambler. Yeah, the tomboy lesbian who wears endless plaid shirts, jeans and combats. What else is new? I loved it. It was fun, I found out how to hold a gun and have a camera in my face. (And yes, I would love to be in the Walking Dead like, tomorrow!) 

There's a big difference between commercial/tv head shots VS. musical theater head shots. I like the serious ones, I look prettier and younger in them. When I smile I feel like my eyes get all squinty and it's just a mess. I feel like I look older. I'm 27, one does not need to think they look old at such a young age. 

I would however give my left foot to be 25 again despite it being such a bad point in my life. Do-over? I think so. 

You want to be smiling and have that brightness to you when you have your shot for commercial. If you don't have any experience in doing commercial then forget it, you're lucky to even have your resume on their 'pile'. 

For musical theater a lot do the half-body shot which is what I always wanted but do you think I can find a decent outfit half of the time? Uh, no. I own jeans, sneakers, plaid (hardy-har) and band t-shirts. You always worry about dresses and then you worry about nice shirts. It's a disaster. 

Needless to say my hair is longer now and I will have to shell out some cash for a new head shot eventually before the year is over. I like to do my own make up for head shots unless it's included. Usually it's another $100-$200 for a makeup artist plus your $300-$400 head shots. Uh, no. I learned how to do make up as a kid and I'm pretty damn good at it. 

I'll keep my extra $100 for groceries. 

Sometimes I'll see waaaaayyyyy too much air brushing on pictures, as a graphic designer and web designer I just have to say that's too much. Sure, we want to remove a pimple or a stray hair which is totally fine. But when you start thinning faces or re-coloring eyes that's like being on a trashy magazine cover. You're not you, you don't feel like you. When you walk into an audition room or a meeting with an agency they sure as hell can see it isn't you. 

Be yourself. I always do a rosy lipstick, maybe some gloss. I always use mascara and I have naturally dark and full eyebrows so I just shape them a little and brush them down. I've seen some shots where girls have like this glob of eyeliner and dark shadow and I'm just like is this what these people look like on a day-to-day basis? 

But then sometimes you look at those again and are like, well wait a minute. She looks good, maybe I should slather on the lipstick and stuff too? Don't do it. When in doubt, ask a friend. If you have a good circle then they'll tell you the truth and trust me, the truth is always better. 

If you have the cash to throw for a $500 head shot, be my guest. But just know they're not always the greatest. I saw a deal recently for a great one around here for $199 that's amazing. When I get paid, I'll go for something like that. They come out just as good and the photographers are just as well known. 

Please don't charge us actors thousands of dollars, it's ridiculous. 

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