WRITTEN BY AMELIA BRANTLEY
“That’s a wrap!” The photographer taking your headshots finally puts down their camera and you breathe a sigh of relief. You think, “I’m done!” And that’s where I, the assistant, come in to say, “Not so fast, Sonny!”
Yes, the main event is over, but your work is just beginning. The post-shoot process is the most overlooked part of a headshot session. So much so that an alarming amount of people never even download their headshot sessions once we send it to them. That’s insane, guys! You just spent hundreds of dollars on these photos and you’re not even going to download them to your computer or back them up on Dropbox for safekeeping? WHAT?!
So, we end this 3 part series with what to do after the shoot.
Before we settle your balance, I take 5 minutes to show you how we get you your photos, how to download everything, and how to request retouching/resizing. Please listen when the photographer or their assistant is giving you this information. At least once a day, I find myself talking to an actor who isn’t paying attention. They’re texting instead of listening and without fail, a week later, I get an email saying, “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention when you were talking. Can you go over all of that stuff again?” I will always go over it again, but really, I shouldn’t have to.
2. Download Your Photos
Not much more to say. When you get them, keep them somewhere safe and accessible. You’ll never know when you’ll want to access them.
3A. If Your Reps Are Picking…
Ask your agents and/or manager how they like to review headshot sessions. Do they want to look through all 928 photos or would they like you to narrow down to a top 50 or 40? Do they want to pick their favorites and then have you print out 4x6s to drop off at their office for their final selections?
3B. If You’re Picking…
It can be really hard to pick your own headshots, I know! But the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. What really feels the most ‘you’? I didn’t say the prettiest or the most handsome, I said the most YOU. Meaning your energy, your essense, your vibe. How you truly come off when you’re feeling goofy, curious about something, nerding out, or caught in deep focus over something. (That’s why it’s always better to listen to music during the session or talk about your dreams or recite a monologue.) These types of photos are usually the best and will stand out to casting directors. They’ll feel that energy coming off the headshot!
If you’re really struggling to pick, that’s when your friends, family, or social media can really lend a helping hand, but tell them which looks and branding you’re going for. Also, try sharing the photos with people not in your closest circle too, so the opinion is more objective. And remember, this a business tool, so asking people to look at your face over and over again isn’t vain or narcissistic, it’s just business.
4. Learn From Your Shoot
When I go through my headshot galleries, I look for quirks, the good, the bad, and even the ugly. More than likely, what you’re doing in your headshots is also what you do on camera when you’re filming. So take this opportunity to really look at yourself as objectively as possible. Scan the photos for tension. Is there any? If so, where? Mouth, jaw, forehead? Those are the most common places we hold tension when we get nervous. A tense mouth or a raised forehead can hinder a performance on film if it’s not truthful to the given circumstances, so look out for that.
Another thing is blinking! Now, a lot of photographers will go through your session and delete any of the photos where you’re blinking but you can ask them not to do that and send you everything, and I’d recommend doing so. It’s really good to know how much you blink in a session. Blinking signifies a change in thought. When editors are cutting a movie together, 9 times out of 10, they cut away from an actor when they blink. Blinking is this great nuance actors can hone to enhance their performances. In “Silence of the Lambs”, Anthony Hopkins is controlling his eyelids the entire time. It’s completely brilliant! (I mean, he did win Best Actor that year for the movie.) A character like Hannibal Lector is very focused on his prey and really only has one train of thought, therefore, he doesn’t need to blink much. I digress. My point is, if blinking signals a change of thought, excessive blinking may mean there is a lack of focus. If an actor comes into Joanna’s studio and seems really nervous when they get there, almost always, that actor is blinking in a lot of their photos.
Once you’ve decided on the shots you want to use, you then have to decide if you want retouching. Retouching is hit or miss for me. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t. I definitely suggest asking your photographer to retouch just one to start so you can get an idea of what kind of retouching they do. I’ve had some great retouching and I’ve had some really bad retouching and since it’s an additional cost, I think it’s best to stick a toe in the water before fully diving in. The cost of retouching varies based on the photographer. Some charge $35 per image, but I know others charge $175 per image. (Side note: charging actors $175 per image to retouch is shameful).
6. Upload, Post, and Celebrate
You did it! You just invested in brand new advertising for your acting business! Give yourself a high-five or a hug for putting in all the work and finally getting the results. Post your photos on breakdowns so you can start using them. Upload them on your IMDB, website, and social media! Spread your new marketing campaign far and wide. May it bring you new, exciting opportunities. And thank you for taking this headshot journey with me!