Headshot Advice from a Casting Director: Keep it Simple

Legacy Casting had a workshop last weekend on the kinds of headshots they look for when they’re casting for extras on TV shows like Salem, or for major roles in films or TV shows. They’ve cast me several times, and they’re really nice people.

They told me not to try to look older – that I was still able to play 11, 12, and 13 year old kids (even though I’ll be 15 next week), and I should consider myself lucky to be kind of short (5’4″) and still have a baby face. One of the casting directors who was there said that she’d seen some of the footage from a TV show I filmed recently (it hasn’t aired, and I can’t talk about it), and that on camera, I fit right in with the younger kids in the scene even though I’m several years older than they are. “That’s a gift. Don’t be in such a hurry to look older!,” she said.

They don’t hire many 15-17 year olds, they said, because it’s easier to hire someone who’s 18 and looks 15, because of the work rules that limit the number of hours someone under 18 can spend on set.

They took some test headshots and a full length shot for me, and I picked up some good advice. My agent weighed in, too.  She said, “Absolutely, positively, no bad boy looks. Smile and show that you can play all ages.”

At the workshop, the Legacy casting team talked about keeping it simple, avoiding white clothing, and minimizing makeup.  “We don’t want glamour shots. We are looking for images that show what you really look like. Don’t retouch a scar, or even a zit or two. If you show up and you don’t look like your photo, you might get sent home.”

One other thing they said is that they like headshots that are really “chest, shoulders, and head shots” — not too tightly cropped around the head. “I like to see an image that gives me an idea of you body shape and how you hold yourself.”

So I guess my new headshots are going to go for “young and innocent” instead of sophisticated and older. <sigh> No gel or hairspray, no fauxhawks, no spikes.  Oh, well. At least with my hair the way it’s cut now, I can have it long enough for the period dramas, but still make it look more fashionable when I am not doing a period show.

Here are the test shots that Legacy shot over the weekend.  What do you think? (Yes, I have a little bit of what the makeup artists and hairstylists on set call “product” in my hair here, but I won’t when I shoot real headshots.) I was on my way to a birthday party, and I wouldn’t actually wear this outfit for real headshots.

Dallas actor Kameron Badgers image

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