modeling & talent ● breaking into showbiz
By Adam Hill
Taking the right headshot is
an important decision for any
aspiring actor or model, and it
means selecting the right
photographer for the job
A gents receive a minimum of 350 pictures each
week. Casting directors receive the same unless
they are casting a project, then the total could be
as many as 1,000. What is going to make these
business savvy professionals consider your pic-
ture as they ﬂip through these hundreds of photos? Before
they even consider your résumé, something about your pic-
ture must grab their attention.
Why are agents and casting directors going to choose
your headshot and photos? That is the million dollar ques-
tion. Actually, it’s the multimillion dollar question that can
change your life.
KNOW THE PRODUCT YOU ARE SELLING
Too many actors have pictures that will look great on
their family’s piano or mantle; however, very few of those
8x10 prints would get an actor entrance into an agent or
casting director’s ofﬁce. Indeed, if you are attractive, it is an
advantage in this business. Everybody likes to look at a
pretty or handsome face. All the same, being attractive is
not enough, unless your looks are extraordinary. Even then
you better have the talent to back up your looks.
I had a student of whom I was extremely fond. She was
a talented comedic actress in her late 60s. The picture she
sent to casting directors was taken 20 years prior and made
her look another 10 years younger. Additionally, it showed
her in a provocative pose. Can you imagine the astonish-
ment felt by the casting director when, expecting a sexy 40-
year old woman, my nearly 70-year old student walked
through the door? Try as I may, I couldn’t get her to take
another picture that represented what she actually looked
like. The real shame was she missed out on all the projects
for which she could have been cast.
I realize she is an extreme example of self-delusion. She
saw herself as this young, sexy woman. Nevertheless, she
represents, to a lesser degree, many actors. Ask any agent or
casting director what they want from a picture and they will
tell you they want the picture to look like the person who
walks through the door of their ofﬁce.
You can type yourself out of work by having pictures that
illustrate how you wished you looked or how you believe
the industry wants you to look. I repeat myself—look like
you! You are the product being sold. You don’t submit a pic-
ture of a ruby and then go in as a diamond. They are ex-
pecting a ruby when you walk through the door. The ofﬁce
down the hall may be looking for a diamond, but you did-
n’t send them a picture.
What else are they looking for in a picture? A real per-
son. Models sell products. The more beautiful and/or glam-
orous the model, the more the eye is drawn to the ad.
Hence, their attractiveness brings us to the product. Actors,
on the other hand, sell stories. They sell stories in which
we, the audience, can identify.
I was coaching a very talented and quite beautiful young
actress. Her 8x10 was glamorous and looked very much like
this young woman. I asked her how often she was submit-
ted for projects. She said at least once or twice per week. I
suggested she get another headshot with very little makeup
and her hair as casual as she was wearing it at our session.
She took my advice and almost immediately her audition-
ing quadrupled. Her “girl next door” look was more popu-
lar than her glamour shot.
WHAT KIND OF PICTURE DO THEY WANT?
It is unfortunate but the industry is not consistent with
the kind of picture agents and casting directors are looking
SHOWBIZ Continued on page 76