headshots

4 Essential Poses for Actor Headshots

Every actor needs headshots, and often it’s a good idea to have more than one look or pose. But which poses?

Headshot
When getting your headshots done, it is very important to be aware of your everyday look, your “types” for future auditions, and the goal behind getting these photos taken in the first place. Headshots can be expensive, but they’re worth every penny if you get them done right.

First and foremost, make sure you sleep well the night before your photo shoot, and make sure you arrive early enough to be fully relaxed and ready to shine!

Headshot

Poses will vary depending on what you want to play and the career you are targeting. But the following essentials are some go-to poses that may help you get more auditions:

  1. A smiling pose: It is key that you genuinely smile for at least one of your poses. If smiling doesn’t come naturally to you, make yourself as comfortable and relaxed as possible. If it helps you to lean casually against a wall, or stand on your toes, do it! And remember: smile with your entire body!
  2. An everyday pose: Usually when someone tells you to “act casual” you struggle to do anything but. However your casual, everyday pose — the look you might have if someone saw you lost in thought or reading your phone — says a lot about you and your screen presence.
  3. An emotional pose: Explore what you know is your most challenging emotion. Treat your photo session as it’s an audition, or even a scene, and don’t hold back. Feel free to be vulnerable, loud, and truthful. Even if you don’t think this will play well for photo stills, there’s a very good chance a talented photographer will capture a few perfect moments for you. Get intimate with the lens.
  4. A neutral pose: A neutral pose is what it sounds like — a resting, unemotional look. You might think this is the same as your everyday look, but for most people, the two poses can be very different. Unlike your everyday pose, which is you out of your own head and acting naturally, a neutral pose usually means you’ll need to actively contort your muscles and cancel any emotions on your face. Become a blank slate that casting directors can fill with their own ideas for the role. Remember: neutral doesn’t mean natural!

Headshot

There are countless expressions that fall on the spectrum between these poses (and many  that are completely out-of-the-box.) Explore them all, practice in the mirror until your face is numb and you’re sick of looking at your face. The work will pay off and soon acting for your headshot photographer may just turn into acting for a film or stage director!

If you’re interested in taking classes at NYFA’s acting school you can find more information here.

Don’t Dread It, Write It: A Guide To Acting Resumes

How to Write an Acting Resume

Headshots get the bulk of the attention because they are the visual cue that immediately informs casting directors and agents of an actor’s type and range. However, for every headshot there is an acting resume that should be uniformly stapled to the back.

An acting resume should simply list an actor’s credits and contact information in a highly organized structure that provides readers with background information about the face in the corresponding headshot. A good resume makes an actor appear more professional and prevents agents and casting from quickly labeling you a novice.

Staples…You Should Use Them

Since it has already been mentioned, let this be the first rule of resume writing: use staples.

This will guarantee that your headshot and resume do not become separated in the chaotic piles of resumes that industry folk weed through every day. Paper clips are out. Tape is no good. Glue is messy and warps the pages. If you are really cool you can print your resume directly on the back of your headshots. If you are not really cool, just use staples.

Screenplays are Structure…And so Are Resumes

Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman said, “Screenplays are structure, and that’s all they are.” His words apply equally to acting resumes which all follow the same basic format.

Basic Resume Guide

  1. Name: At the top, centered, write your full name.
  2. Agent: On the line below, list your agency and their contact information (phone number and e-mail address).
    • If you are unrepresented, list your personal contact information.
  3. Union: The line below that should list your union status. If you are not in a union, leave this line blank and skip to the next step.
  4. Statistics: Immediately underneath union or contact info, list your basic stats: hair, eyes, height, and weight. Then move onto the meat of the resume.
  5. Credits: These are grouped into Film/Television and Theatre. Start with whichever is your primary emphasis as an actor. Under each subheading, create three columns:
    • Left Column – Title
    • Middle Column – Role
    • Right Column – Production Company
  6. Special Credits (Optional): If you have any credits you would like to list that do not fall under Film/TV or Theatre list them here in the same three-column format. Special credits might include Web Content, Dance, Opera, or Improv.
  7. Training: Underneath credits, list any formal training that you have. Only two columns are needed, one for the specific focus (dance, voice, Shakespeare, etc.) and one for the teacher or school.
  8. Special Skills: Finally, at the bottom of the resume, list your special skills. Think of things that are unique and specific that might be of interest to casting. Common skills are singing, instruments, sports, and accents but anything can be listed here.

Once the basic tenants of an acting resume have been applied, there are a few simple steps actors can follow to ramp up the professionalism.

Quick Resume Tips

  • Choose a clean, standard font and font size that is easy to read.
  • Name, agent, and all subheadings should be bold and larger font than the body-text.
  • Trim the resume to fit precisely on the back of an 8”x10” headshot
  • When listing your role for a Film/TV credit, note whether the role was leading, supporting or guest star. Casting directors probably won’t know the role unless…
  • If someone or something famous is associated with a credit, make sure you list it at the top. A noted director, producer, production company, or actor is a marketing point to that immediately signals “professional experience.”

Thou Shall Not Lie

If staples are the first “yes” rule, lying is the first “no-no.” Not only is lying on a resume unprofessional, but actors who lie are bound to be caught. When an actor is caught with a false credit, there is little to be done to save his or career. Simply put, if you haven’t worked with Steven Spielberg, do not list him on your resume because someone will find out.

Be proud of your past work and list it accurately on a well-formatted acting resume that is nicely stapled to your headshot.

Following these simple steps will immediately signal to a casting director or agent that you are ready to work. Be honest, be stapled, and be cast.

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

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