actor headshots

How to Get Great Kid's Acting Headshots!

Getting great headshots for your young star

I love working with actors and really enjoy working with kids who want to be actors too! And when it comes to getting noticed, publicity headshots are just as important for children as they are for adults. So here are a few tips on getting great kid headshots for your young star.

Do I really need professional headshots for my child?

Yes. Headshots are a great investment if you and your kid are serious about acting or print work. As adorable as dad's cell phone image of little Madison is, it may not get you a call back from a manager. Professional headshots show your dedication to your child's career. And, expect your kid's experienced competition did not submit a headshot taken by dad. Bottom line: Don't skimp. To that end, I'd recommend that children under the age of 18 get a new headshot every six months. “Every six months to 12 months” I hear you moaning “this is going to cost me a fortune?” No, not really. I offer a substantial discount when your child returns for headshot updates within a specified time. My offer: a 40% discount. That's not so bad now, is it?

kids-acting-headshots-maryland

kids-acting-headshots-maryland

What should my kid wear to a photo session?

Your child's wardrobe should include a variety of shirts, pants, skirts, and dresses in solid colors only. No busy prints, stripes or patterns of any kind. Outfits should be free of advertisements or logos for The Avengers or Frozen or anything else. The idea behind the headshot is to emphasize your child's adorable face and sparkling personality, not to endorse multimillion corporations—at least not until your kid gets paid to do so! Also, leave the frilly dresses and little boy suits at home. Managers and agents just want to see a kid looking like a kid! If you need some wardrobe ideas check out my Pinterest page here.

acting headshots for kids

acting headshots for kids

How long does a headshot session take and how do we prepare?

A typical session lasts from one hour to 90 minutes, depending on the child's age and the number of outfits to be worn during the shoot. As to be expected, children under five can only be animated and perky for so long (come to think of it, that's true of my 22-year-old!) I schedule headshot sessions between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily. So, if you know your 5-year-old shuts down after lunch, schedule your session in the morning. Bring a little snack and water too. But please, no, no, NO sugar before your session! We all remember Jake after having three Mountain Dews at the Renaissance Festival. It's was not pretty. And since teenagers need more sleep than anyone it is critical that they GO TO BED EARLY the night before the session. See my emphasis? I have a teenager who keeps the hours of a bat, especially in the summer! And no one likes a crabby teen.

How do I even choose a photographer?

The answer is easy! Pick me, pick me, pick me! Seriously. It's important to find someone who actually likes kids and specializes in headshots. When you're going down your list of professionals just ask if they like working with children. If they hesitate, move on. You'll want a photographer who is patient, able to give gentle direction and who'll help your child feel at ease. Your photographer needs to know the difference between a “theatrical” headshot and a“commercial” one and what images work best. Don't wait until you are in the studio to ask these important questions. You'll be wasting money when you could have hired a pro from the start. Remember, if you and your child are serious about the business, you'll want to establish a good, lasting relationship with your photographer. You just never know. Your little darling really could get to Hollywood or Broadway. They'll need new headshots wherever they go. My bags are already packed!

Want to read more about kid's acting?  Check out these other posts:

Headshots for Performance Arts Majors

Kid's Acting Headshots: Makeup or Not?

Ready to schedule a session? Click here! Or just want to chat? Call me at 443.840.0484 or email me.

Getting Your Best Actor Headshot Ever!

Few things seem to strike more fear into an actor than the dreaded headshot. If you have been acting for some time, you've probably been less than satisfied with at least one set of headshots or the photographer who took them. Perhaps the lighting was a bit too dramatic. Maybe your makeup was too heavy or too light or your outfit just wasn't right for the types of roles you'd like.  Maybe the images were OK back when only black-and-white headshots were acceptable. But now they look really dated. Maybe you continue to use them anyway because you had 500 printed. "Oh, well, they'll just have to do,” you tell yourself. Sound familiar? Or, you're just starting your career and you've heard all the headshot horror stories from friends in your acting class. You've been told the only way to get a professional headshot is to go to New York and spend a small fortune. You don't have a small fortune. So you decide you'll have your sister's boyfriend take your “professional” headshot. After all, he took some really good pictures of the family's Grand Canyon trip last year. How hard could it be? The pictures will be fine, you say. Guess what? They probably won't.

Here are a few tips for getting your actor headshot right the first time and feeling good about the experience.

Find the right photographer for you. One of the best ways to research a headshot photographer is—you guessed it—browsing their website! Answering the following questions before you book your session will easily narrow down your choices.

  • Does the photographer even do headshots? If so, how long has he or she been working with actors?

  • Are there actor headshot examples on the website? Are all the images similar, or is there a variety of poses and styles? Do the actors look comfortable and approachable?

  • What is a typical photo session like? How long does it last? What are the actor's responsibilities?

  • How much is a session and what do you get? Actor headshot costs vary widely, from $200 to over $1,000. The old adage that you get what you pay for certainly applies here. But there's no reason to break the bank either. It's more important to consider what you can afford and your ability to work with the photographer to get exactly what you want.

Assuming all your questions have been answered, it's now time to pick up the phone or send a detailed email. Note how long it takes for the photographer to call back or send a personal email response. You should get your potential photographer's attention within about 24 hours. Now that all your basic questions have been answered, be sure to tell the photographer about yourself and your acting plans. Ideally, they would have already asked you, thus demonstrating interest in your career and knowledge of the industry. Do some soul-searching, if you haven't already, about the kinds of roles you really want and what you've already been cast in.

Ask the photographer how you might portray those characters in your headshots. Does he or she have any thoughts on this? The answer may give you exactly what you'll need to make your determination. OK. The price is right. You've booked your session. Now what?

What should I wear? There's only one rule that should never be broken when it comes to your headshot session wardrobe.  You must keep it simple! Your clothing should be understated. For guys, that means jeans or other casual pants, crew-neck tees or turtleneck shirts and a light jacket or sweater. A business suit with dress shirt and tie is also a safe bet. The idea is to keep your wardrobe from competing with your unique look. No stripes, no patterns, and never any logos. (I once turned a client's shirt inside out and backwards, so as to hide the logo of a local brewery!) My approach is to suggest, depending on their complexion, that clients wear muted  colors like gray, navy, or brown. If you're fair, you'll  probably look great in navy or another darker hue. Dark-skinned complexions look vibrant in lighter tones, dissimilar to skin tone and hair color. Unless you're really buff and going for a cop or tough-guy role, stick with long sleeves. For women, simple boatneck or v-neck shirt styles convey a polished look on everyone, no matter your size or shape. Jeans never go out of style; however, bring along a daytime outfit like a business suit or jacket that you'd wear to impress! The idea is to be comfortable with yourself and the way you look.  By bringing 3–5 outfits, you and your photographer will have plenty of looks to choose from. Color rules are the same for women, muted and complementary to your complexion. Again, avoid loud patterns, stripes, logos, or "messages." You are the message, not your outfit!

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Should I hire a makeup artist? That depends. I have many beautiful images of clients that didn't use a makeup artist. I would consider them quite skilled at makeup application. If, however, you're like me and wear what takes under five minutes to apply, know nothing about foundation, and have been wearing the same lipstick color for 15 years, I would recommend a professional!  Men should also consider a makeup pro if plagued with uneven skin tone or dark undereye circles.  A good makeup artist will charge a minimum of $200 per session. For an additional fee, some pros will even assist with hair styling.

Success means always thinking ahead! Throughout your long and successful acting career, you'll need headshots more than once, so establishing a solid, trusting, long-term relationship with a photographer will be an absolute bonus. Your actor headshot is far too important to leave to chance. A great headshot doesn't guarantee that you'll get the part, but it sure gets you in the door.