1. Spend the money
Headshot photography is a specialist skill that takes years to master. So, that mate of yours who photographs weddings and animals, and has offered to do your shots for free really isn’t going to do you any favours, no matter how hard you convince yourself otherwise. Even if you haven’t had an audition for months, your photograph is being viewed every day in the Mandy Crew USA search database, on your website and by Casting Directors, Employers or Agents who receive your job applications. Quality headshot is an investment that can bring you auditions faster than you think!2. Do your research
Ask friends for recommendations, check the reviews in the Photographers Directory, look out for the AHPH kite mark, and visit photographer’s websites. You can often get an idea of the photographer's personality through the manner in which they speak on their website - listen to it and trust your instinct. This can make a huge difference - you’re going to be spending a couple of hours with this person and you need to feel 100% comfortable with them.3. Be honest with yourself
A photographer can do their best, but ultimately you, the actor need know what you are trying to market yourself as - know your casting type. If you’ve been in the industry for more than a year, you’re probably starting to see a pattern in the types of roles you’re getting called in for. Although you can all play any role (I mean that’s what those years of training were for right), the industry is so saturated, that if you’re a 'middle class looking' caucasian female (like a very high percentage of graduating actresses), getting called in to audition for a Cockney market trader role in Eastenders is highly unlikely. Know yourself and embrace that - the more unique you look, the more chance you have of being seen.4. Keep it simple
There is a tendency for actors to get into a mad panic over clothes but in all honesty - who's going to audition for the role? You or your new expensive top? Simplicity is the key and you can easily do your best with what you have. Make sure you read the photographers guidelines and suggestions on what to wear – the neckline is crucial. Also, go through your wardrobe making sure you wash and iron everything suitable in advance. Dear ladies, unless you’re aiming to get cast as a drag queen, don’t overdo the makeup. Just wear what you would normally wear during the daytime - be that person who's going to walk into audition room. Be yourself.
Having your photograph taken is a daunting thing. It’s okay not to like it, but don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s hard enough to sit in front of a camera without the negative committee inside your head commentating on the process. Leave the 'attitude' at home, play a role if you have to, think of it as an audition. Whatever it takes, find a way to relax and enjoy the experience. Remember, the photographer wants your photos to be as good as you do.
We took one actress, who like most of us "hates having her photo taken" and sent her to three APHP approved photographers - Michael Wharley, MUG Photography and Nicolas Dawkes. She wore the exact same top, hair and makeup, and had a shortened session with each of them. Read about actor headshots.