What Directors Want Actors To Do With Their Headshots

If you ever find yourself prepping for an audition and you’re having a hard time grasping the character they want, the answer is in your headshot.

When you’re called in for an audition, it’s because they like your headshot. The reason they like your headshot is because they saw their character in your headshot. Whatever you and your photographer captured in your headshot, the filmmakers looked at it and saw their character. What they want you to do is walk and talk and live and breathe as the headshot version of you. Your headshot is the character.

In many cases, actors have no idea which headshot the agent submitted. The agent didn’t think to tell the actor, and the actor didn’t think to ask the agent. Think about the different looks you communicate with your headshots. Which headshot did the agent submit that made the filmmakers request you? If they want you to walk and talk and live and breathe as your headshot and you don’t know which headshot made them think you were right for the character, you’re going to be shooting in the dark.

And keep this in mind. When you are in a headshot session and the photographer is snapping photos of you, you’re looking at the camera and through the lens. It gives your eyes a cinematic quality filmmakers love because it makes you look like you’re in a movie. When actors play a scene, that cinematic quality in their eyes goes away because they are listening and connecting with the other character. It goes away and the filmmakers look at the tape or audition and wonder where that cinematic quality went. Most directors themselves have no idea how this headshot phenomenon originates but they really miss it when it’s gone.