As a young actor you need to grab casting agents’ attention. Your book is often the mechanism used for this. Obviously, that first photo has to have impact. It has to grab the attention of a busy casting agent or producer. Here you have to use restraint. It’s tempting to lead with a photo that grabs attention, but does so for the wrong reason. Don’t be lured into leading with drama. Lead off with a headshot that an agent can’t look away from.
The first shot should be your face, plain and simple. No cinematic color grading or shadows. No over the top, attention getting clothes.
Agents and directors know they can get the cinematic mood they will want through lighting and production. When looking for cast they want to know who they are getting. Your photo should be a positive representation of who you are. The headshot should be lit and exposed well. Your expression should be what captivates the agent to look further, to spend more time with your book. Let photos further in your book, or better yet your reel, sell your dramatic side.
Once you have decided a professional headshot will lead off in your book, how should it look? It should be all about your face. Enough of your clothes should show for agents to get an idea of what you are wearing, but your face should be the star. Personally, I like the shirt or blouse worn to show an inch, or two below a standard neckline. Picture showing a tie knot and the top of the tie, or a couple inches below a crew neck tee shirt.
Enough clothing, but not enough to take away attention from your face. As far as the layout, make sure you run ideas by your agent. I like a horizontal 8×10. We are used to horizontal screens, from our HD TVs to theatre screens. The 8×10 has been a standard for a long time, and is comfortable to look at.
Unlike a wider angle (widescreen) view, it concentrates the viewer’s attention on your face, keeping your look as the star of the show. In order to seamlessly transition to other photos, whether horizontal or vertical, work with your agent and photographer(s). The agent reviewing your book shouldn’t be continuously having to turn it to view photos. However, most won’t mind turning your book a couple times.
Remember, that first photo is your opening scene. It should pull casting agents in, without dramatic effects. Keep it simple and engaging.
Article by Greg Thomason
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