Actors and Headshots: Are You Camera Shy?
Actors: Are you nervous in front of the camera?
Damson Idris of “The Identity Agency Group”
I always find it fascinating that actors can thrive on stage or on film but immediately stiffen up in front of a DSLR camera. The key to great headshots is having natural and relaxed ones where you look like your best self. The key to remaining comfortable, looking natural and most like yourself is to remain calm and relaxed in front of the camera. Yet, the big question is how?
Pick the right photographer:
If you know that you will be nervous in front of the camera, choosing the right headshot photographer is key. Picking a photographer that spends a lot of time with you is helpful in developing a comfortable relationship to get the right natural shots and also to ensure you are happy with your headshots. Do your research and look for a photographer who will spend a few hours with you and also spend the time over tea at the beginning to get to know you and what you want out of your headshot session.
Also, deciding whether you prefer studio headshots or outdoor headshots may play a part in how at ease you feel. While studio sessions help develop an intimate atmosphere between the photographer and the actor, the studio atmosphere can also be intimidating with the lights and equipment, resulting in stiff and unnatural shots. Outdoor headshots can feel more casual and relaxed, therefore getting great, natural shots for the camera-shy actor.
How can an actor do their homework before their session?
While it is the headshot photographer’s job to immediately put you at ease and build a relationship with you during your session, it is also very important to do your homework before a headshot session. Think about the types of looks you want for your headshots. It is helpful to discuss this before with your agent as knowing what they expect for headshots is great for a discussion with your photographer on what you want out of your headshots.
What kinds of looks do I need for my headshots?
I always tell actors we need to aim for three different looks during our shoot (but we aim for many more).
1.) The Classic Headshot– This is a typical headshot with no smile but a neutral expression, with which you can be put up for a wide variety of roles.
2.) The Warm Headshot- Having classic warm shots, which show a bit of a smile, is great for a variety of roles. You don’t have to have a giant cheesy grin but having a bit of warmth in your eyes will be great when your agent puts you up for a comedic or twee role.
3.)The Serious/Edgy Headshot– Remember, you’re an actor! Posing in front of the camera is the same as acting! Personify the character you want to play, embody an edgy, serious, smoldering look that can be used by your agent to put you up for roles that are more serious, edgy or villainous.
Keep these looks in mind to get a wide range of headshots! Planning which roles and expressions you need for your headshots really takes out the initial “deer in headlights” frozen look and after a bit of warming up, you’ll be a pro!