Retouching Headshots: Is It Really Necessary?

retouching headshots

With Fall just around the corner, many actors are getting new headshots for the upcoming busy audition season. One of the common questions that many actors have is: “Is it really necessary to retouch my headshots?”

We spoke with the specialists at Reproductions- Maurice and Fyzal to get their take on this question and more.

When should actors be retouching headshots?
Maurice: You should retouch your headshot(s) once your representation has decided which image(s) they want to promote you with.  Unfortunately, some agents want to see the final image(s) retouched before they decide.  This can present a high cost to the actor.  Since they are representing you, sometimes you’ll have to just bite the bullet and get them retouched.  I would encourage the actor to politely ask if their reps can decide pre retouch which image(s) they want to use and then just retouch those.

Fyzal: Actors should retouch their headshots once they are confident the choices that have been made accurately represent the part they would like to portray.

Should every image be retouched that they want to use either to print or for online submissions?

Maurice: A few years ago I would have said no.  However, now, most people assume you will do some sort of editing to an image.  So it’s best to have them retouched so they are the best representation of you.

Fyzal: Although retouching may be very subtle, it represents an important step in marketing an actor and his/her brand, be it printed or online.  A professional can advise an actor whether an image should be retouched.

How much retouching is appropriate?

Maurice: For acting, always try to do light retouching.  When you over retouch that image is no longer an accurate representation of you. Furthermore, when you get called in for an audition and all they’ve seen is your over-retouched image you may have wasted their time (and yours) as they have a “preconceived notion” of yourself that is not accurate.

Fyzal: The amount of retouching needed is usually very light.  Every actor has their own comfort level and should have their headshots retouched accordingly, without going overboard and without making the image look over-retouched.

What do you say to an actor who is going overboard on retouching?

Maurice: Example above.  You no longer look like your image.

Fyzal: Your headshot should be a current and accurate representation of your look.  Making it look “perfect” or giving it a magazine-cover quality isn’t going to help if you walk into an audition and don’t look like the person in the headshot.

Can retouching headshots “make or break” an actor?

Maurice: Yes, a well retouched image will not look like it’s been retouched and just looks like you.  However, as mentioned above, an over retouched image can be misleading to agents and can harm your career moving forward.

Fyzal: Retouching is one tool in the an actors toolbox.  Some headshots can be successful with little or no retouching, while other headshots might need much more retouching to be useable. Ultimately, it’s the actor that gets the job, not the headshot.

ABOUT REPRODUCTIONS

Reproductions is the leading printing and digital imaging company, serving actors and other performing artists nationwide. Serving the United States, Canada and Mexico, Reproductions has set the standard for high quality photographic headshot printing and superior level of customer service since 1991. From choosing a photographer to processing a print order to editing your reel, Reproductions ensures the client experience is seamless. www.reproductions.com

Do Your Homework Before an Audition to Improve Your Chances of Being Called Back by Martin Bentsen

Who, what, where, when, why, and how? Before an audition, each of these is extremely important to figure out, not just for the character you’re playing, but also for the production itself.

When working with actors, I’ve found that there are typically three types of people:

1. There’s the actor that just does a shotgun approach and tries to go to as many auditions as possible. These actors are typically stressed out because they are so busy all the time and find that nothing ever seems to work for them and they never get any callbacks.

2. There’s the kind that just chills out and goes to auditions when he/she wants but doesn’t actually try to push their career forward, and if something happens, it happens! They are typically relaxed and happy but don’t have many strong credits to their name.

Do Your Research

3. There’s the kind that do research for every role they go out for and only go to the ones they actually care about and spend the time to do their homework on. These actors are typically booking a good amount of work and find themselves enjoying what they do!

Which of the three would you want to be?

When they hear that they need to do “homework,” most people get worried and stressed because homework has such a negative connotation for us from school.So instead of thinking it as homework, I’d like you to think of doing research as investigating to learn more about a production. Whenever you’re about to go out for an audition, you should focus on the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How for each project.

But you need to focus on those questions for both the character you’re playing AND the production team.

For the character you’re playing, making a clear choice beforehand is ultra important because it will let you play the character much more authentically. Your acting will come off as multi-dimensional and even if you make incorrect choices (different than what the director was thinking), you’ll at least impress the crew enough for them to give you notes to try it again, but differently.

Do go deep, answer the following questions for each audition:

• Who am I (the character) as a person?
• When and Where is this scene taking place? Has something just happened that might influence my behavior?
• What am I trying to achieve in this scene overall and also moment to moment?
• Why am I trying to achieve this goal?
• How am I going to achieve it, and how will I change my tactics throughout the scene?

Find out All you Can

Next, you’ll want to find out more about the director or casting director of the project. They are going to be the ultimate decision makers. Knowing more about them ahead of time will give you some idea of how you’re going to want to act in the scene. Note – when/where don’t apply here, since I’ll assume you already know when and where the audition is actually taking place.

• Who is the director and/or casting director as a person? What kind of projects do they typically like to work on? If you can watch some of their other projects, it might give you an idea of a style for the character they’re looking for.
• What is the director trying to achieve by shooting this script? Are they participating in certain causes or do they typically like their projects to share an important message?
• Why are they doing this project?
• How can you help them achieve that goal if you were involved in the production?

By answering these questions, you’re giving yourself fodder for small talk with the crew at the beginning. They’ll like you more if you can show that you’re a fan of some of their other work and you want to be a part of their project because of the reasons they’re doing it.

Remember, not everything is about the audition. The audition is half the battle. The other half is making the right connections. The best way to do that is to do your homework in advance. Make small talk, connect, and be memorable.

If you do it right, you’ll definitely be the stand-out person at the audition and they’ll likely want to bring you back.

Who is Martin Bentsen?

Martin Bentsen has spoken numerous times at New York University. He has run educational seminars at Actors Connection and other acting studios as well. These seminars focus on branding and marketing strategies for performers. Mr. Bentsen has written an informational book called Get Cast™, as well. It focuses on marketing tactics actors can use to find more consistent work. He is a member of both the National Association of Sales Professionals and Sales & Marketing Executives International, two highly acclaimed marketing organizations in the United States.

Martin graduated in 2011 with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Film and Television program. Naturally, his focus was directing. City Headshots®, which he founded in 2010, is the top headshot studio in New York according to Yelp. Martin’s long term goal is to run major business and actor marketing seminars across the country while expanding his City Headshots brand to go international

Making It Happen: Build Your Inspiration

If you had a magic wand, and you could create the exact life and inspiration you want, what would be in it? Who would be in it? Where would it be?

Once you have that answer in your head, work backwards from that goal and write out the staircase to get there.

What actions “lead-up” to that life? What kind of person do you need to become to live at that level? How does the person you are now compare? Which of your habits would change? How would your thinking be different? How can you start living more like that person in action and thought TODAY?

It’s easy to forget your road map, inspiration and your target destination when you are getting stuck in the daily grind, listening to the nay-sayers, or comparing yourself to others.

The only one who determines the success you achieve is YOU. Not your competition. Nor your partner. Not your agent. YOU.

Write those goals out. Make that action plan. Think those positive thoughts. Take the necessary steps.

Become the person you dream you can be— one step at a time.

In the words of a cult musical….

“Don’t dream it….BE IT”

Make it happen–I’m looking forward to your acceptance speech already.

-Colleen

A Note on Actor Research: Be Mindful

Dear Actors,

A little note on Actor Research.

Be mindful of the questions you ask your industry contacts.  If you can GOOGLE the answer, or find it in a short internet search, I don’t suggest emailing your contacts for the answer instead just so your research is more convenient.

Agents, Casting Directors and other industry professionals are very very busy.  They want to see you succeed and many of them do everything they can to help you– but you need to be mindful about the time you request of them.  Using their time for a question you can google isn’t ideal.  Using their time for a more complicated or situational question– that is more worthwhile and a million times better for building a positive relationship with that contact.

Career research is YOUR job.  Creating your brand is YOUR job.  Knowing about opportunities is YOUR job.  Asking someone else to do the work for you may make them think you are a lazy actor– and in the most competitive industry out there– you do NOT want ANYONE to think that of you!

Take ownership over it.

Know your type.

Take a class to learn and ask questions.

Know the work out there for your type.

Learn about the major offices.

A question for the sake of asking a question doesn’t build relationships.  Trust does.

Build the Trust!!!

🙂
Colleen

The Importance of Self-Talk

Let’s talk about your self-talk.

This has come up a bunch of times recently.

Isn’t it amazing that things you would never DARE to say to another person you are saying to yourself?

There is a DIFFERENCE between helping yourself learn/grow/improve and tearing yourself apart.  Let’s take an audition for example.  Say you get in there and you botch your 16 bars.  Maybe you didn’t warm up enough.  Perhaps went out the night before and shouldn’t have.  Maybe you chose a poor cut.  Perhaps you didn’t do your actor homework on what the character actually wants in that moment.

Well– you have two choices.

A. You can beat yourself up for hours or even days until your faith in yourself is black and blue and you feel miserable and unworthy of success

OR

B.  You can take some notes on how to adjust for next time, congratulate yourself on the aggressive learning you just did and MAKE THE CHANGES and get back on the horse.  Babies don’t beat themselves up learning how to walk.  Why beat yourself up when learning how to soar in one of the most complicated career paths on the planet?

OUR WORLD NEEDS YOU TO DROP THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK.

It’s not making our world better and it is certainly not making you better.  LOVE yourself through the process, don’t be a jerk to your own brain and heart– you deserve a better learning environment– and YOU are in control of that.

So whatever smack you are talking about yourself… DROP IT.  NO MORE  “I’m not ready,” “I’m not good enough,” “So and so is better,” “I’ll never,” “I can’t,” “It’s too hard,” “The chances are slim,” — you are so much better than those lame comments.

You ARE growing.
YOU’RE worthy of it.
YOU’LL learn it.
You CAN book it.
YOU’RE doing it.
If anyone can, YOU CAN too.
You are CREATING your chances.
You are BUILDING your dreams.

So take your lunch money back from your inner bully.

Go get from your life what’s yours.

xo
Colleen

Pre-Audition Mantras

Have you been struggling with your positive thoughts in your pre-audition time?  Especially thinking positively about your auditions?  We’ve all gotten stuck in a bad thinking pattern at one time or another.

It is SO IMPORTANT to stay focused and aware of your thoughts.  In our industry, your energy in the room is an enormously important factor for booking work.  If you are feeling not good enough, it WILL shine thru.  So– KNOCK IT OFF 🙂 and sit with these pre-audition mantras instead.

1) This audition is just another opportunity to do what I love, and I’m going to have fun and be creative with it.  (and then after the audition, let it be. Don’t pull it apart, don’t analyze every choice– let it GOOOOO)

I’m here for a reason, might as well bring my A-game (getting appointments, learning about opportunities and having someone believe in you is not an accident.  The world made it happen so you could be here— so show up with your best self!)

3) They want to see MY version.  And I am 100% qualified to do that.  (Bring your honest authentic deliciously unique self into that room!  That is what you are there for!)

The make it or break it for your life is NEVER one individual audition.  EVER.  The make it or break it are your thoughts.  If your outer world is broken, check out your inner world first.

Love ’em or leave ’em.  Just some thoughts if you need ’em!

Crush it today!
-Colleen

Handling Disappointment As An Actor

Let’s talk about DISAPPOINTMENT.

I know…it hurts our hearts.  I don’t know of a single actor that hasn’t felt it at one point or another.

Especially when you KNOW you got close to the desired result, and at the last moment, things change and you are dealt with the task of handling your emotions.

Handling disappointment with grace is a talent we ALL need in our tool kit—and in this industry more than most!

So if you have been feeling a little sad and a little frustrated over not getting the callback or not booking the role– know we are sending you ALL the good vibes.  Take a min to pull your thoughts together and go thru this check-list.

AC’s FEEL BETTER CHECK-LIST FOR ACTORS

1) Remember that you are a fantastic human being and receiving or not receiving an opportunity is no measure of how fabulous of a person you really are.  There is no role or job on the planet that showcases how gosh darn beautiful that heart of yours REALLY is and that is the real measure of you as a person!

2) There are things in this life that are MEANT for us– and sometimes our life makes room for them in ways we don’t understand.  Think about what new opportunities could be available to you now that you have room for them.

3) Release those feelings of disappointment with ACTIONThis is important.  It’s ok to take a moment to feel what you feel, but holding onto those negative thoughts and feelings don’t create lives of joy and excitement.  Let those feelings go and start doing things that can lift your spirit again!

Here Are Some Thoughts for You

A) MOVE.  Not where you live– move your body!  Take a walk, go to the gym.  Take a dance class.  Those endorphins are your friends and really do help when you need a mind shift.

B) CREATE.  We are ARTISTS.  We thrive off of telling stories, creating stories, contributing stories.  Get in a class.  Go sing at Karaoke.  MAKE SOMETHING!  Start creating your youtube show.  Build your podcasting channel.  Paint.  Write a poem.  Sculpt.  Write a monologue– create using any method that brings you joy.

C) LEARN.  Don’t let ANY disappointment rattle your confidence in yourself.  A great way to make sure you feel stronger next time is to learn another skill to help you reach your goals.  We’ve got some great options below!  Empower yourself by growing and strengthening your craft everyday.

I hope this helps you.  At AC we are here for your craft AND here for your hearts.

And now…..::::WHISTLE::::

Time to get off the bench and get back in that game!

🙂 Colleen

Self-Inspiration: Love Your Product, Love Yourself

Ever go to an audition and you look around the waiting room and think “wow I feel like I am sitting in a room of a whole bunch of people just like me — how on earth am I going to get this role? What can I do to be different?” It’s time you started praciticing self inspiration and self-love.

We’ve all been there.  It’s especially freaky when it looks like you’ve all shopped the same store for your outfits and seemingly went to the same hair stylist.

BUT– YOU!  You ARE NOT them.  They ARE NOT you.

You’ve lived a life of unique experiences, circumstances and emotions.  Your brain connects thoughts differently.  Your heart loves differently.  You give and take differently.

If you bring honest and authentic connection with the script into the room, play specific verbs and intentions and show off that sliver of your natural self– you will automatically BE different.  You don’t need to “play” different.  It’s just there…in you, in your intentions.  After all, they called YOU in— not the idea of you– YOU.

YOU are what YOU are selling…and for me, I believe in ONLY selling things I LOVE- because it is easy!  and fun!  And truthful.

Do you LOVE what you are selling?

Is it time you get back to self-love?

-Colleen

5 Key Components of Actor Research

Let’s talk about ACTOR RESEARCH.

It is easy for us to spend hours talking to actors about individualized plans of attack– every single person is different and what works for one person in this business isn’t the magic juice for everyone– BUT there are a few KEY research projects that need to be a part of EVERY actor’s homework.  Here’s a few things to get you started!

ACTOR RESEARCH HOMEWORK

1) What working actors are most like you?  Be truthful about this.  Who can you be playing right now?  Know EVERYTHING about their careers.  Jobs they booked, representation they have, casting directors who have cast them, even look into their little indie projects before they got bigger roles.  This is a great way to find scenes that are good for you that aren’t super famous and recognizable but still worthwhile to perform.

2) If you need representation-RESEARCH!  The old give a man a fish and he eats for a day– teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.  LEARN TO FISH– LEARN TO RESEARCH.  Google agencies.  Look up their current clients.  What are they recently booking?  How large are they?  Any pics up there of someone who may be a similar type to you?  Read their whole website.  Look at their google hits. Look at ALL of their clients if they have a roster posted.  Understand who they have and who they might need from the information you are finding.

3. KNOW YOUR CASTING DIRECTORS!  This is an extremely important part of your job. Know who is casting what– know the CDs for ALL The shows you are right for.  Take classes with THEM!  Find opportunities to get to know them.  Understand the type of projects they usually do- notice the style and genre.

Training and Strategy!

4. TRAINING.  It’s a craft.  You need to be polishing and training consistently.  We’re in NY and there is a LOT of competition.  The more confidence and practice you have, the more efficient your work will be when you are in high pressured situations.

5. STRATEGIZE when you aren’t getting appointments.  Have an agent but STILL not getting in the room a lot? You need the list of projects you have been submitted for but not given the audition.  Then you need to develop relationships with THOSE casting directors and make sure your headshot and resume and geared to support the BOOKING of those types of roles.

There’s a few things to get you started.  Don’t underestimate this step!  Empower yourself with the knowledge you need to get to this next level.  I know you are working so SO hard.  I don’t want you to burn out.  Instead of working harder- work smarter.

We’re rooting for you!
Colleen

Be the Change You Want to See in the Industry

A little note inspired by some convos yesterday….

How cool is our industry!  I don’t know of any other jobs where you can feel like family with your coworkers the way we do when we work on a project.  There is so much LOVE that we have for the people we have worked with.  I see actors LIGHT UP all the time talking about past colleagues, favorite directors, inspiring scene partners and so on.

SO really… everyone you come to find in auditions including the people you feel like you are “up against”— they are just one project away from being FAMILY.

YOUR FAMILY.

What does that thought do for you?

You will get the roles that are meant for you

if you bring your whole self into the room, continue to grow your craftand stay grounded and authentic through it all.

And you can do this like you are FIGHTING the other artists, or you can do it with LOVE AND RESPECT for the other artists.

WE are in control of how our industry feels.  WE ARE the industry.  If you feel like the audition scene has been feeling tough and beating you down, the guy or gal going in the room after you may be feeling that too.  BUT WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THAT.  We need to start radiating the love we want to feel in our audition scene to ONE ANOTHER.

What is meant for us is meant for us.  How we pass the time is up to us.

Our world today showcases ways that we are at odds with one another, and living that way is exhausting.  Let’s show other industries how it is done starting with each other.

There are 45,000+ New York actors that will receive this email.  If you want to make our competitive audition scene a more wonderful place…

it’s going to start with you.

We got this.

Much love,
Colleen