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Backstage Experts

What Headshots Reveal About How You Audition

What Headshots Reveal About How You Audition

Contrary to common belief, headshots aren’t just a way for casting directors to remember your face. They’re representative of your style, your standards, and how to you present yourself to a camera. How you handle your photo shoot is actually quite a revealing experience for actors, as it shows how you might handle your auditions. There’s some key things to remember here: auditions and photoshoots are parallel experiences, as they both put you on the spot and exhibit how you carry yourself as an actor. This is where we—the photographers, casting directors, and the camera—can see your style, your confidence, your body posture, and your overall look. Are you going to make a lasting impression?

Preparation is everything! Make sure for both your headshot session and your auditions that you’re taking extra time and care to get ready for your big moment. Do you meditate? Do you look in the mirror for a while to become more aware of how you work your mug? Wake up early, make yourself breakfast, and adhere to a good skincare regimen? No matter the circumstance, you have to devote a lot of time, energy, and care to clearing your head and getting in the right mindset. Being in front of a camera can be emotionally draining because you’re putting a lot of energy and effort into nonverbal communication. The same goes for your audition, as acting is notoriously an emotionally exhaustive job. You can’t give 150 percent when you’re focusing on taming your nerves. You need to be in the zone before you arrive on set or in the audition room. Take time to figure out what works for you. Practice makes damn near perfect!

The second major thing to consider is how you keep your nerves under control. When you’re anxious, unsure, or insecure, it shows…and the camera will make it painfully obvious. Even in the stress of the moment when all eyes are on you, you have to find your reset button and get your nerves under control so your best self shines through. Whenever I have actors or models in the studio, I’m able to notice spots of tension right away, and I always remind them to find their reset. This usually means that they need to shake it out, release the tension building up in their faces and their bodies, and find their angles again. When you hold a pose or an emotion for too long, it either becomes stiff or appears inauthentic. The key is to stay fresh, stay focused, and release all your tension. Stress gets in the way of success.

A good actor not only knows how to communicate emotion, but they also know how to respond to direction. Acting isn’t all you, it’s also your director, and how well you’re able to communicate and understand each other. This is crucial in both your auditions and your photo shoot, because it shows your ability to listen, absorb, and apply notes from a director. If we’re in a photo session and I ask you to tilt your head a bit and smile with your eyes, that needs to come through. You’re basically a car in power steering mode. Whatever direction you’re given, you need to take it, translate it, and make it work for you. Be sensitive to what is being asked of you, of what is being suggested emotionally and tonally. In the audition, your casting directors will definitely be looking for talent that’s also able to listen and adapt quickly. My best advice would be to treat your photo shoots with the same attention to detail. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open.

Your job is to be a strong communicator, a sensitive listener, and a master of the human condition. This applies to your auditions, your photo shoots, your job on set, and your practicing regimen. As famed writer Robert Quillen once said, “Acting is not being emotional, but being able to express and embody emotion.”

Watch how to get good headshots here:

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Michael Roud is a Los Angeles-based photographer, writer-director, and Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Roud’s full bio

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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