“Do I really need new headshots?” Usually, when people ask me this question, it’s because… they need new headshots. And they’re looking for reasons to avoid spending the time, energy and money required to pull it together. You can try to convince yourself that they’re not that old and you look the same. But the bottom line is that once headshots have been in circulation for more than a year or so, your agent, casting agents and the producers who’ve been looking at your picture start to de-prioritize you. There becomes a tipping point where that photo no longer excites them - no matter how good it is.
The beauty of a new headshot is multifaceted: you’re actively showing your reps that you’re still invested and focused on your success, that you respect the time and energy they spend submitting you. You’re giving them a visual boost of energy to remember all the great things about your work and talent. And if you’ve had the same shots for a while and haven’t been getting the volume or kind of auditions you’d like, then it’s time to re-assess and re-approach the way you’ve been presenting yourself.
And there are reasons for new headshots that are harder to talk about. If your physical appearance has changed dramatically for any number of reasons and you’re hoping that somehow your 10-year-old headshot will suffice, I’m telling you as gently as I can that it doesn’t. Here’s the thing; we all age, gain or lose weight, do (or don’t do) things to our face/hair/teeth- some are elective, some are just life. We experience life-altering experiences that change us, which affects how we address the world and our art and is clearly evidenced in our connection to the camera. We’ve all got our own path. And as an artist, part of our job is to be deeply connected to ourselves as we progress and evolve from moment to moment. Or how will we ever connect to the character if we’re stuck on who we were a decade or more ago? Embracing yourself precisely as you are, empowers and informs your craft. But I digress. As soon as you send in your tape or show up to your audition? The “jig,” as they say, is up.
On a purely professional, practical level, when talent gets offered an audition, a self-tape, shows up on a zoom audition or on any platform based on their drastically different headshot, not only will you have undermined your agents’ integrity, inconvenienced casting and much of the team - they will likely not be bringing you back in again.
So you saved yourself a few hundred bucks but cost yourself who knows how many auditions. Or bookings!
Another reason I’ve heard many times is that the expense of a professional shoot outweighs the value. Pardon the pun, but that doesn’t add up. A great headshot session with a qualified photographer is an investment and a tax deduction. You’ve paid for it when you book even ONE day on a gig! And while I think there have been incredible advancements in iPhone/Galaxy cameras, save those selfies for social.
Professionalism matters. Amateur shots tell casting and producers…they’re hiring an amateur.
It’s 100% OK to be new to the business- we all have to start somewhere, but using a poor quality amateur photo sends the message you don’t know what’s expected of you and likely won’t know what to do on set in the eventuality you manage to get hired.
“You get one chance to make a first impression. And yours may be in the hands of an assistant.”
Food for thought.