Why Your Headshot and Resume Are Your Most Important Tools

Article Image

Why are your headshot and resume two of the most important tools for being a working actor?

When you audition for Digital Dogs Casting, we request all performers bring their headshot and resume every time.

Why the resume? It tells me everything I need to know about you as a professional performer.

I look at your resume for your successes, where you are from, where you have been, what you have done, characters you’ve played, director and producers you’ve worked with, teachers you’ve had, where you went to school, etc. Everything is on your resume. I use it to find a direct connection to you—the performer! It’s a simple list of your successes. Maybe there is a director or teacher we both know. Or maybe we share a special skill like gymnastics, collecting glass blown figurines, or weapons training.

Some say you should never list credits that are not professional like community theater or high school plays. However, in my experience, if a performer portrayed Nurse Ratched or Randall P. McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in high school, there might be a similar actor transition in my project or maybe the character has similar traits to the character I’m currently casting. This is a direct connection that we can immediately use to enhance your performance and get you closer to the clients’ concept.

See how it works? It’s that simple and straightforward.

Now, let’s talk about the headshot. This is not glamour shots, but every major photographer in Hollywood treats it like it is.

Your picture is not called a three-quarter shot; it’s called a headshot—a shot of your head. It should never be about the location or how “cool” the shot is or about standing out. The shot should not be the focus, you should be the focus.

You are paying for the shoot. You are the boss—not the photographer. You know the product you are selling. Don’t let them make you out to be what you are not.

Why do you think most celebrities are so hands on when it comes to photo shoots and controlling their image? It’s the same situation here, just on a different level. Don’t you think you are a million dollar actor/product? Then act like it.

You have the right to request to look at their books. What do their shots tell you? Can they clearly capture what you are selling as a performer? Would they capture your diversity? Would you call you into a showcase/audition if you were a casting director looking at thousands of headshots submitted for one role?

I have been very lucky and fortunate enough to have seen millions of headshots and resumes over the past 35 years.

I have experienced every headshot fad from three-quarter shots, pictures with pets, women in wedding gowns, kids with frogs, pictures in front of colored walls, etc. I have seen photography style that could rival Vogue, but through all of these transitions—even from black-and-white to color and back again—the best headshots have always been about one thing, a true headshot.

That could also be defined as a loose close-up or a head and shoulders shot. Shoulders should be squared off to camera, not turned away. The camera should be level with your eyes. Don’t put your hands on your face, and connect to the camera.

It’s simple and straightforward. Always think very small, very film, and very real. Your expressions should be subtle. This vibe works for all genres, meaning you can end up with one shot that works perfect for commercials, film, and TV.

All that said, if you are shooting a publicity shot then anything goes! Because it’s a publicity shot, not a headshot, and it’s probably to publicize a specific project. In that case, listen to the powers that be, especially if they are paying for it!

My picture above is a great example of a publicity shot, not a headshot. If I were famous then I could use whatever picture I wanted as a performer to sell my product, but until then, follow the simple rules above and you will always have a great working actor’s headshot and resume.

Robert Jr began his career casting feature films primarily for Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, and Ron Howard, but after crossing paths with Steve Jobs,Robert Jr began extensively casting Apple’s high profile World Wide product launches including the first iMac, iBook, Power Mac G4, Mac OS X, and iPod campaigns and has gone on to cast 1000’s of commercials, film, and TV projects. His casting company Digital Dogs Casting is best known for their unique, award-winning campaigns and a flair for blending improv and witty dialogue with performance-driven spots.

Robert Jr recently released, "The Concept of Acting" an audiobook that delves into the complexities of performing for Film, TV, and commericals and is based on his award winning acting theory, TheConceptOfActing.com.

Author Headshot
Robert B. Martin Jr.
Robert B. Martin Jr. began his career casting feature films. Today, his casting company Digital Dogs Casting is best known for its unique, award-winning campaigns and a flair for blending improv and witty dialogue with performance-driven spots.
See full bio and articles here!

More From Backstage Experts


More From Actors + Performers

Now Trending