SIX TERRIBLE TRENDS WE ARE SEEING IN HEADSHOTS:
1) TANK TOPS
For some reason we are seeing more and more headshots where the actors (men and women) are wearing tank tops. Unless it is a fitness shot, DON'T WEAR TANK TOPS IN YOUR HEADSHOTS! We have heard from a dozen offices, half commercial, half theatrical lamenting this trend. Why? Because bare arms in photos make women look wider. And unless you are doing a character photo like a redneck or a bouncer (where it makes sense), there is no reason to make it a gun show guys (again, unless it is a fitness shot). Casting doesn't want to see side boob or armpit hair or nipples (men or women). DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS IN TANK TOPS UNLESS IT IS A FITNESS SHOT AND IF IT IS A FITNESS SHOT, WE SHOULD SEE A FULL BODY SHOT, NOT JUST A HEADSHOT.
2) SUPER CLOSE UP HEADSHOTS
Yes, we know it is called a headshot, but you don't need to be so literal. A good headshot should actually be about chest or waist up. Why? Because (especially for commercial shots) we need context. The thing about casting is that they are trying to imagine you as a specific character but they aren't going to stop and say, can she play a mom? They need to see it right away. The thing that allows them to see it is context. Are you dressed like a mom in a mom pose. They can't see that if they can't see anything but your head. Ask your photographer to shoot from the waist up. I can always zoom in if the shot is too far away. What I can't do is zoom out. So tell the photographer to pull back the frame OR use a photographer who shoots with a wider frame. If you are researching photographers and all their shots are super close ups in their portfolio, you should rethink using that photographer. They may be resistant to shooting farther away or they may not be any good at it.
3) TIPPY FRAME
Why are there so many shots at a 30 degree tilt? We have heard this from both Theatrical and Commercial. Don't make Casting tilt their heads to look at your photos because they aren't going to do it. Slightly off center, fine. A serious tilt is just weird. And if all the shots are at this angle? Something is wrong with the photographer.
4) SOLID BACKGROUNDS
A solid background screams school picture, looks unnatural, has no depth to the photo, and is super boring. Don't do it.
Ladies if you are showing cleavage in a photo, that's all Casting is looking at. They aren't going to look at your eyes, which is where the acting should be happening. Unless you are in a bathing suit there is no good reason for this. The interesting stuff should be in your face. NO NO NO NO NO Cleavage shots. If you need this to get called in (and you aren't a model) then you are going to only get called for a VERY specific type of role.
6) OVERLY TOUCHED UP PHOTOS
No one's face is flawless. Yes, get the zit touched out of your photo. DO NOT get your photos so retouched that you have no lines at all on your face or you have no freckles. If your skin looks unrealistically good, casting is going to think the photo isn't realistic and they don't know what to expect in the room. They want a realistic looking picture of a realistic looking person. Retouch fly away hairs, retouch a zit or a scratch. But don't overdo it. (Same goes for over whitening of teeth, a little is totally fine, and I have no problem with it, creepy glow in the dark teeth are no good).