Do you know why its sometimes difficult to look at photographs of ourselves? We are used to looking at ourselves in reflections. We use the mirror multiple times a day. We see ourselves reflected in glass. Its a familiar face looking back. Photographs, however, are reversed from that. Instead of seeing a reflected image, you are seeing yourself as others see you – and it can be a little disorienting until you’re used to it.
We all want to look our best in photographs. To enhance a photograph in the film days required a skilled artist using airbrush, pencil, and other techniques. Today its all done digitally. Digital retouching has become so ubiquitous that the word “Photoshop” has entered our every day vocabulary as a verb. Soft, subtle changes can enhance an image without calling attention to themselves. When its overdone, you get covers of fashion magazines and when it is overdone badly – you end up on websites designed solely for making fun of Photoshop gone wrong.
Too much retouching is a killer in an acting headshot. An acting headshot needs to represent who you are at this moment. If you take years off, as we did in this first image of Christia, and get called in for an audition based on that headshot, you very likely will not get the part. The casting director will, at best, let you audition anyway – but I’ve heard of actors being thrown out without the chance to even audition because their headshot was over-retouched.
Subtle retouches are allowed. You can remove blemishes and soften some lines created by the lighting. But anything permanent that cannot be covered by makeup should be left. This includes scars, birthmarks, moles, freckles, and the like. For reference, I have also included the straight from camera version of Christia here as the third image. Note the subtle changes between it and the second image.
Don’t be afraid to look like yourself in your headshot. When you go to the audition, its all you can be.
A special thank you goes out to Christia and all the actors who helped with this blog project. They were great sports in letting me purposely photograph them badly.