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My (not so) secret recipe for the Perfect Headshot

I believe everyone should have the best possible chance at creating a winning headshot, which is why I coach my clients from the moment we book, right through to the end of their session. The whole process starts with one simple statement that I ask everyone to answer before we start to plan our session.

“I would hire (me), if I were looking for (…)”

Unless you know the answer to that statement, how can you be sure it’s what you will project in your headshots? This is where my whole process starts and once you know what ‘type’ you are we add my recipe for a successful session.

1. Add a good helping of Honesty

Your expression should be real, so we start by finding your neutral point and do small variations around that. Expression should be effortless, trying too hard can come across fake, or overzealous neither are qualities of a professional actor that has the skills and experience to deliver a believable performance.

I like to keep backgrounds simple this is to reduce the look of it being too much like a photo shoot. This, together with how I use light during a session produces a look like a still taken whilst on set.

Finally retouching is light, removing anything temporary like spots, a nik from shaving or something that would be removed with make up whilst on set.

2. Fold your ingredients Effortlessly

Once you have a grasp of your natural expression we find a rhythm and make small changes, by the end of the session you’re doing this without thinking.

We try to capture your image as if you are on set (a production still). These shots are invariably captured whilst you are working and you don’t really think too much about it at the time. In these images you’re not trying too hard in front of the camera and so it looks natural and effortless.

It’s plausible that the image wasn’t taken from an actual headshot session. This is what we hope to achieve during the session.

3. Finish with a Personal touch

It’s very important that you bring something into the shot, something of you that we can identify with, this will be different for everyone.

Perhaps its your charm or wit, your fragility, gravitas or warmth.

There’s no room for bland, safe, neutral headshots in this industry. They should be something that makes you stand out, competitive and should always relate to my initial question – ‘I would hire (me) if I were looking for a (…)’.

5 Ways to save money as an Actor

Becoming successful in any industry has always relied on the ability of the individual.  Raw talent, skills and a little luck will help you get the role you desire, however with growing competition for a limited number of places, those things might not get you all the way alone.

There is pressure from the industry and from peers to invest money in both developing skills as well as promoting work.  So attending workshops, masterclasses, recording voice reels, show reels and updating your actors headshots are necessary in order to keep yourself current. So we’ve put together our top 5 ways to save money as an actor, if you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments section below the article!

Immerse yourself in culture without spending a fortune

Going to see every single performance your friends are in, or see the latest production or film out by your favourite director can become incredibly expensive.  This will seem like common sense but check to see if there is a reduced rate for matinee performances or an offer on certain days of the week at the cinema.  It might not save you mega bucks but over the space of a year the savings will add up.

Use your student status

Something else that theatres and cinemas will likely accept is your student ID or Union card.  A valid Student ID card can save you a considerable amount of money on the high street but also ask industry related businesses if they have an offers or discounts available to full time students. For example, I currently offer 20% off the standard price of our actors headshot packages to full time students.

Know your tax exemptions

When it’s time to submit your self assessment, understanding what you can claim tax back is really important.  A great deal of what you do during your day will be working towards full time employment, honing skills, working out, networking the list goes on. There is an extensive list of things you can claim back on such as, clothing (performance wear or costume), play texts, books, travel to and from auditions/acting work, computer, laptop, headshots. If you are unsure about any tax issues or deductible percentages then speak to your tax accountant, HM Revenue & Customs self assessment department, Spotlight or Equity.

Kill two birds with one stone

As you start your journey in the industry you’ll need to update your headshots, put a voicereel and a showreel together.  This can be an expensive exercise with individuals spending on average £700-£1,000

Try looking for someone who can provide those combined services and who offers good value for your money but without risking quality.  If in doubt always look for people who specialise, for example if you need to record your showreel, look for someone who supplies material, recording and editing services. However if you already have your material for your showreel, you could employ the services of someone who offers showreel and headshot packages.

I also offer a combined option with all of our headshot packages to include the editing of your pre-recorded material for your showreel.

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