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Headshot Tips by Taylor Hooper: Headshot Photographer, NYC




Who are you? A simple question, but not easy to answer.



It is so important in the acting business to know who you are: A client of mine (who is brilliant at this) is the great actress and Yale graduate, Tijuana Ricks. She was able to achieve what some might think is a staggering variety of looks while still staying 100% true to who she is and the roles she is right for. There was a common thread to all the women she was in her Headshots: they were all sides of her. She knew from experience that she would not be cast as the bubbly, silly, best friend even though she could play it and that, when casting directors saw her, they saw strong women. She had very specific answers to all of the questions I ask in the headshot homework.

Take a look at just a few of the shots from her session to get an idea of what I mean. Notice how specific each shot is. You can almost put a caption to every shot. You know the “type” as soon as you see it. Tijuana knows that she can use each of these looks for specific types of characters that she has either played or has gotten called back for and that she can deliver the goods at an audition.

Tijuana was not just getting variety for varieties sake, she was sticking with what she knew she was right for and could play. There is no point in getting headshots that aren’t 100% you. In fact, it can hurt your career. You want to market yourself in a way that shows people what your strengths are. Your headshot should lay the ground work for you in that a casting director/agent/manager should know who is going to walk in the door before you enter just by looking at your headshot! You need to make sure that you set up the right expectations for yourself.



I had a quick conversation with Tijuana about putting together this article and here are the highlights:

Me: Did you do the headshot homework I gave and have specific answers for it? did you find it helpful?

Tijuana: Yes, I also used advice from your site, feedback about my old shots I had gotten from a casting director, and what I'd learned from the roles I've been cast to play.

Me: What were some of the specific things you were looking to capture?

Tijuana: Some of the types were the corporate lawyer vs. the public defender, the cookie baking mom vs. “Jamal's Mama” , and the inner city beat cop.  Shows were: Law and Order, CSI, Good Wife... Hour long dramas. I don't really see myself in sitcoms aside from maybe being the straight man. Products I want to sell: toothpaste, tampons and Slim Fast...meaning confident, normal everyday relatable woman, the friend you trust who "knows things." And thanks to you and Sara, I got them all!


The ideal scenario for you and your headshot is this: You send out a headshot that is 100% you. A casting director looks at it, is interested in how you would play a role, and calls you in to read. You walk in the door and instantly they think, “Yes! That is what I was expecting”. You read for the part and that energy you put into the role is the energy you showed in your headshot. You have met the expectations you set up for yourself. You are cast!


In the end, I want the headshot session to feel like you are just hanging out with friends and having a lively conversation. In my opinion, that is the best way to be 100% you. Think about this article, do the headshot homework, then (with the knowledge of who you are and a clear idea of what you want to put across in your headshots) you can relax. It will be easy and fun to get the headshot of your dreams!