A headshot is a photograph in wich the focus is a person’s face. Headshot is essentially the same as portrait. However, it is an image that portrays people as they are and is more of a ‘mug shot’, however simple or stylized it might be. On the other hand a portrait will often ‘portray’ the person with elements of his life, such as his work, interest, etc. (For more information about the difference between headshot and portrait visit: http://photo.net/portraits-and-fashion-photography-forum/00WXx6).
There are four main contexts a headshot is used in:
1. As a form of Identification
2. In the Entertainment industry
3. In the Modeling industry
4. And in the Corporate and Business industry
There are slight but fundamental distintions between the above.
As a form of identification, a head shot is a front-on (facing straight at the camera) photograph, with the face being the centre of the picture and containing minimal or no surroundings. The facial expression is usually neutral. These head shots are usually used as a form of identification. They are used as passport photos, mug shots and on other forms of photo identification and often require the temporary removal of facial accessories such as glasses.
2. Entertainment Industry
Theater, film, and television actors, models, singers, and other entertainers are usually required to include a head shot along with their resume when applying for a job. These head shots are usually more artistic, intended to portray the subject in the best possible light. They often have the subject facing off-centre. A performer will often have head shots expressing different poses and expressions to give a potential employer an idea of the subject’s range of appearances or expressions. Those types of head shots are called “looks.” Although, this practice is less common in the current market. It is still common for an actor to have different head shots for their sitcom audition as opposed to their film audition, but for the most part these looks would represent a change in attire. The headshots that include a person’s shoulders are called “three quarter” shots.
Actor’s headshots, when printed and not simply uploaded online to an industry database, are done in an 8×10″ format. Other promotional images, e.g., press shots and lobby prints, may be in many different aspect ratios. Acting headshots are usually 8×10″ prints. Acting headshots are often not photographic prints but will be printed via a lithographic process or the laser process.
The main purpose of an actor’s head shot is identification. Therefore the most important feature of an actor’s headshot is that it looks like the subject. Actor’s head shots should be clear; theatrical headshots are usually very “neutral” looking shots of the actor clearly showing his facial features.
There are a few types of Headshots:
- Commercial – typically (not always) has the person smiling and projects warmth and friendliness.
- Theatrical – usually serious, focused and actors are not smiling.
- Glamour – More artistic and idealized images.
Headshots are intended to show a person as she is currently (age, look, style, etc.) and reflect her best qualities. Therefore, if an actor’s hair is recently cut or coloured, she might then need a new headshot to reflect the new image of herself.
Modelling headshots are more like a beauty shots designed purely to be either artistic or flattering and are often used on comp cards for marketing purposes.
Models often use them for castings and modelling work applications.
Model headshots are often professionally retouched to make sure their close up beauty photograph looks perfect without blemishes or spots.
The 9×12″ model prints will be photographic “wet” prints (meaning they are from a chemical process) or ink jet prints and the model will put these into their portfolio. The portfolio will not be just headshots but headshots are very important. Better models will have several identical portfolios.
Comp card are one of the cornerstones of a model’s “Marketing Materials”. They will be about 5½×8” and printed on both sides. Almost all of the comp cards are in color but may have black and white images. A model may have 4 to 5 images on the comp card and at least one of these images will be a headshot.
Corporate and business industry
Corporate Headshot is somewhat similar to Actors Headshot but it has to look more natural, showing a person as they are. Men usually are wearing suits and shirts, and women are dressed smart in an office-like manner:
Many business professionals and business’ use head shots for:
- Annual reports
- Corporate catalogues and advertising
- Company publications and websites
- Corporate PR
- Press releases
- Online catalogue/shop/website
- Corporate brochures
- Mail order catalogues
- Marketing literature and advertisements
- Product packaging
2 ^ “Becoming More Photogenic”. Seven Daughters’ Wine. http://www.7daughters.com/girlsnight/blog/tips-becoming-more-photogenic. Retrieved 2010-8-26. “Sometimes saying “cheese” just doesn’t cut it.”