So, I’ve given you a round of these columns before (see Bad Headshots, Good Headshots; and Bad Headshots, Good Headshots II for context). And last week, we talked about headshot retouching. Cool. Next week, we’ll wrap up the headshots series with Bad Headshots, Good Headshots IV — specifically addressing actors’ primary and secondary types as well as looking at commercial vs. theatrical headshots. (Oh, and my husband tells me this will be my last-ever headshot column, since doing these pieces stresses me out in such a major way.)

In this week’s column, I’ve addressed issues such as wasted space, close-in cropping (good and bad), wardrobe issues, the damn borders, weird body parts, rule breakers, capturing your essence, and I’ve also shared some favorite bad and good headshots. Most of the info you’ll love you’ll find in the photo examples themselves, but I wanted to be sure to spell out one particular concept that I briefly touched on last week: The placeholder headshot.

When you don’t know the casting director, your headshot is your ticket into the room. It has to “pop.” It really has to sell a “type” that we need to invite inside for an audition. But after we know you and know your work, your headshot becomes a placeholder. We no longer need your headshot to teach us who you are. Instead, your headshot is a bookmark for the actor we already know. Before we know you, we’re assessing your age, type, and look from your headshot. Once we know you, we’re using your headshot as a reminder of the fact that you’re someone we’ve met and whose work we know. It doesn’t matter at all if you break all the rules at that point. Your headshot is just a placeholder for the spot in our brain that knows more about you than what is available in a photo and resumé.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I know, it looks like a short column. Believe me, once you click on this link to the headshot examples, you’ll understand why this portion of the piece is so dang brief!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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