8 Tips for Better Headshots From an Agent and a CD
Backstage chats with casting director Benton Whitley and agent Richard Fisher to get the low-down on what they look for in an actor’s headshot.
Benton Whitley, Casting Director, Stewart/Whitley With such notable credits under his belt as Broadway’s “On the Town,” “Pippin,” and “Chicago,” as well as the touring productions of “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Anything Goes,” Benton Whitley knows what to look for in a headshot.
“The biggest thing is that they look like a person, not an actor or a model,” he says. “People need to steer clear of the vanity shots—save those for your social media and dating accounts. What we’re looking for in theater in New York is real pictures of people. That doesn’t mean I don’t expect them to be retouched, because of course I do; as an actor you should know that all photos have been retouched in some way.”
You want to look your best, Whitley emphasizes, but not like someone you’re not, so be sure your headshot accurately reflects your personality as well as what sets you apart.
He suggests actors get friends and family to weigh in and describe the energy they typically give off on a day-to-day basis. “If you’re quirky, that should reflect in your headshot. If your type isn’t hot and sexy with bedroom eyes, then your headshot doesn’t need to do that,” he says.
For Whitley, bedroom or not, the eyes are the most important element to any headshot, which is why he never wants to see a full-body photo. But giving a CD an idea of your body type is not frowned upon, either; just keep your face at the forefront, he says. There’s no formula, but with the right guidance, an arresting headshot isn’t out of reach.
Richard Fisher, Agent, Abrams Artists Agency