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home | Quick Tips | Tip Of The Week 36: Choosing The Ri . . . Search 

Tip Of The Week 36: Choosing The Right Headshot
Mary Windishar
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When it's time to move to the next level, consider going visual! Many voice actors add on-camera work to their resumes, and what better time than a new year? So, in the same way your resume reel is the calling card for voice over work, a headshot is the gateway to video gigs. But you'll have hundreds to choose from, so where do you start?

The first step is to remember the goal of a great headshot: show a director who you are. This is done by showing your soul. Believe it or not...it only takes 2 elements to achieve that -- your eyes. When your eyes show your soul, they are engaged. They share an emotion. You are "present."

Don't confuse a great headshot with the goal for an audio reel, or a modeling or zed card. You're not illustrating types, or range. Think about the commercials you see...the people in them are real. That why we need to see the real you. Now if there's a bad boy element to you, no problem. Your headshot can reflect that...but you still have to be feeling something in the shot -- in other words, your eyes must be engaged. In just a minute, I'll provide some visuals for you to practice on.

But first, get a headshot that shows "you" using these three tips:

  1. Get a professional to shoot this. Don't skimp here!
  2. Cooperate with their direction, but be active, not passive.
  3. Do this by telling the shooter stories, or just tell them to yourself.

    Now, here are some head shots that showcase these issues. I always thought a good headshot was one that made me look pretty. But I worried that no one had ever captured me, my energy, my sense of "joy."

    Now, here are some where I'm quite engaged. Notice the differences, and remember: "Pretty/attractive" is not the goal, and when choosing your final shots, work backwards from your eyes.

    The background, how much of you is shown, how it's layed out...all gravy. What matters is that you get a color picture that shows you at your most vulnerable, confident best.

    This is not easy! A wise friend comforted me that my first headshot would not be my last...and I'm happy to report that I have gotten better at it. At the very least, investing in a headshot will help you appreciate your skills at voice over!