Putting together a complete and effective profile is an absolute necessity for anyone aspiring to succeed in the industry. Realistically, this will usually require you to attend several photo shoot sessions and getting pictures taken in different moods, outfits, and themes so there is good variation in your photographs and you are able to send different images depending on what a certain audition calls for.
Of course, the number and type of pictures included in your profile will differ, depending on what project you are pursuing, but usually a Comp Card or ZED Card will contain a compilation of about 4-7 body poses, with room for addition and variation if you so choose.
Many printers can prepare your comp cards for you but it behooves you to spend some time comparing the work of several companies and going with the one that fits your budget while still producing a solid product. If you are signed with an agency, it becomes their job to prepare a Comp Card for you. Furthermore, an established photographer may have reliable connections in the entertainment industry and may help you get in direct contact with scouts or companies requiring talent. A well-established and skilled photographer is an integral part of your success.
A referral from a knowledgeable party in the industry is the surest way to choose a list of potential photographers. If you cannot obtain such advice, you must take it upon yourself to visit as many accredited photographers as you can, carefully examining their work and choosing the one that suits your style. Remember that you must be comfortable with your photographer and can relax at the time of the shoot.
The prices of headshots vary, depending on the city you reside in and the demand of the photographer. Typically, you can expect to spend about $100.00 per roll of film and you probably want to get at least two rolls of photos to choose from. Once you have the rolls of film, drop them off at a developer that your photographer trusts and ask him for a contact sheet and slides. Work with your manager or agent to choose the photographs you wish to blow up into 8" X10's to go into your profile. If you do not have an agent, consult with the photographer, as he is knowledgeable of industry wants and standards.
Remember, that a headshot should ALWAYS be in black and white. Feel free to decide on your pose, but keep in mind that the most common headshots are shots showing your face and bust. A drastic variation from industry standards will most likely serve to your detriment. Remember to portray yourself naturally in your shots, keeping in mind how you are likely to be perceived and utilized. Do not shy away from or mask distinguishing characteristics and do not attempt to pose as someone completely different from which you are. A nice guy masquerading as a bully will most likely not pass for either. You may also want to have two headshots, one highlighting you in a comedic pose and another in a dramatic pose, but it is not a necessity.
More often than not, if you decide to go with an agency, they will want to take their own head shots and test shots. If this is the case, the agency may absorb the cost of these photographs. Do not be surprised if an agency asks you to cover at least a part of the cost, especially if you are new and relatively inexperienced. The photos will, of course be for the use of the agent as well as your personal use.
If you decide to put your own profile together, here are a few good tips to follow for an effective, professional look:
Do not settle for the first photographer you talk to. It is his job to make you look your best so try to find a photographer that you are happy and comfortable with. Call several photographers. Make appointments with them and simply go in and talk to them, but do not let them intimidate you! See a wide range of their previous work and gauge the results. Even if you like the work of the first photographer you come to, seek out others to compare photographs and prices.
Ask to see published pictures, both in profiles and in the publications that they appeared in. Look at what publications use which photographers and see if they fit into your image. Ask what production companies, agencies, etc., each photographer knows to see if you can use his connections in the future.
Remember that the photographer works for you! You must be happy with the result of his work because the pictures he takes will sell you and play a huge role in your career. Try to make sure that your photographer can portray the real you and not just a generic image or look. Communicate your wishes to the photographer and seek his input. Conversely, you can look through publications and find pictures that capture the look you want for yourself and take them to your photographer.
Remember that your mini-book won't come together overnight. It takes time and effort to create the right profile and many sessions are required to create a rounded collection of pictures. It is likely that you may need to implement the services of more than one photographer to capture all the looks you want and all the different sides of you. Also, working with several different photographers will boost your confidence and experience, allowing you to feel better about being photographed once you land a job.
Decide if you want to use black and white or color photographs. Black and white is required for headshots, while color enlivens full body photographs. Again, don't let the photographer fool you and tell you what you "have" to do. Shoot all your pictures on slides (transparencies) because they give you the ability to print both color and black and white copies whenever you need them.
Always request to have the negatives given to you on slides so you are in control of producing copies of any photographs that were taken. Do not put yourself in a position where you must rely on a photographer to provide negatives for you every time you want to make copies of your own shots!
Sign an agreement with your photographer that insures that all his work will be done on slides and that you will retain full ownership and control of your pictures. If a photographer wishes to use any of the pictures from your photo shoot, allow him to use them for a fee.
Expect to pay about $100 for a photo session, but do not be surprised if the price is significantly higher or lower depending upon where in the continental U.S. your photographer resides. If you only get one or two good pictures from a roll of 24, your time and money were well spent. Remember not to settle for mediocre photographs unless you want to look simply mediocre. Find the ones that make you look great!
Disclaimer: Casting360 is not a talent agency, employer or a talent scout; the site is only a venue. Casting360 does not promise or facilitate employment. The number of casting calls available varies by location, roles available and the level of experience required. As with any business, results may vary, and will be based on individual capacity, experience, expertise, and level of desire. There are no guarantees concerning the level of income the user may experience.
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