Headshot Session FAQs

Should I get my headshots in colour or B&W?

Until recently, black and white was still very much the UK industry standard. You can’t have a colour headshot printed in the Spotlight book but you can upload them to the website and that is where the vast majority of casting takes place (when I asked the Spotlight when they were going to phase out the book they told there were only about five casting directors who still used it, as opposed to the weblink!). The shots you choose to be retouched and supplied as high resolution files can be in any combination of colour or black and white you wish but colour is definitely taking over and I work far more in colour now than B&W.

Do you do any discounts?

No.

Really?

Well OK, but only in certain circumstances.

Which are…?

My headshot session rate is £220 but if you’re a student or if we have worked together before, the price is £195. I also offer this rate to individuals in groups of three or more who are booking at the same time, so if you know anyone else looking for headshots, spread the word.

Do you work weekends?

Generally no. I do make exceptions when possible for group bookings but I’m afraid the returning client and student discounts only apply Monday to Friday.

Why don’t you include prints in your actors  headshot packages?

Apologies if this answer makes anyone feel old – it certainly does me. Way back when, when we used film, photographers would initially supply the images from a session on contact sheets – A3 sized pieces of photographic paper with small thumbnail images of all the shots that had been taken during the session. While the small images could give you an idea of which shots you liked best, unless you had a magnifying loupe and a lightbox (and why would an actor have those expensive bits of photographic kit?) you could never really be sure until you saw a larger ‘proof’ print. So we would include a few prints to help you choose your definitive shot. Pre-digital, prints were also the only way to submit headshots to the Spotlight book or for any other marketing such as in a theatre programme.

These days of course, with a complete set of proof files like I provide, you can see all the shots at a much larger size and Spotlight, along with everybody else, would rather have a jpg file, making the print rather redundant. The only time you’re likely to need prints is if you are writing to casting directors or agents, (I’d strongly advise against contacting these people with an email and an attachment unless they say otherwise on their website), in which case you’re going to need a lot more than a few supplied by your photographer. If you do need a lot of prints reproducing I recommend Visualeyes, a lab who have been supplying actors with repros for decades and who really know their onions. They’re very reasonably priced too.

Should I choose a photographer who only does actors headshots?

No. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

What is most important is that you choose a photographer whose portfolio you like and whom you feel you can work with.

But it is important that your photographer knows the industry. You may know a great landscape photographer, or even a fashion photographer, but if they take your headshot, will it be suitable? I started out as a photographer doing headshots. I was an actor, I have friends who are actors, directors, agents and casting directors so, while I may also shoot stills for film and theatre as well as the occasional  corporate or social event, I do know what’s what when it comes to headshots (to see a wider range of my work please take a look at my other site here).

Think of it like this: if, as an actor, you did exactly the same job, day in, day out, would you not get a little jaded? Most actors are bored to tears of a show by the end of a six month run and are eager to get on to something new. Well, photography is a creative profession too and I know that if I took the same kind of photos all day every day the creativity would stop and I’d get set in my ways. As it is, each area I work in informs the others and if I feel something is getting a little stale, I develop it into something new.

Will you make me better looking with retouching?

Generally speaking, all digital photos need some form of retouching but this doesn’t necessarily mean changing the way you look.

Most professional photographers shoot RAW format files that are very large and contain a lot of digital information but look rather flat straight out of the camera. The colour balance, saturation and tonal range will probably need to be adjusted and then the tonal contrast. These steps do not alter the way you look in the headshot and in the old days would have been done in a darkroom by a skilled printer. They’re just photographic techniques that help get the best from a picture, but they are still ‘retouching’.

Then comes the cosmetic part. Initially I will just do a quick ‘clean up’, removing any stray hairs or fluff from clothing, any temporary blemishes on your skin: these are the only things I will remove. Wrinkles, scars, birthmarks, moles etc should all stay exactly where they are. That said, studio light can be either hard or soft and I use both, depending on the subject. The harder the light, the more contrast, (dark shadows vs bright highlights), which can pick out things like wrinkles etc and amplify them, so I will tone these down if necessary but not remove them completely. I will also lighten under the eyes a touch but that’s pretty much it.

I thought it would be unfair to demonstrate my retouching with a client’s headshot, so the example below is a self portrait. The tonal retouching I mentioned above has been applied to both images but the one on the right has been cosmetically retouched. Notice the blemishes to the cheeks are gone and the forehead wrinkles have been knocked back a touch and the dark circles under the eyes have gone too.

Remember your headshot should look like you at your very best, not some idealised version of you. A little subtle retouching can help bring out the best of your face but it shouldn’t essentially change what is there.

One thing retouching cannot do is give you a few extra hours in bed: if you arrive tired you will look tired in your headshots so do make sure you get a good nights kip, (sorry for sounding like a mum).

 

Can I bring a friend?

If you feel the need, you may bring along someone to make sure I don’t have two heads and live in a dungeon but, once you’ve seen that is not the case they are banished. There’s a very nice coffee shop down the road and plenty of places to have lunch but it’s a distraction to have anyone else around – I need to give you my full attention and get the same back from you. Of course, if you’re a younger actor, (under 18), you may bring a chaperone for the entire shoot.

You’ve gone on for ages and ages and still not brought up the question I wanted to ask!

Then do feel free to drop me an email here or give me a call on 07711 183 631