This one falls into the “Don’t. Just don’t” category. Its tempting, especially if you’re in a rush and you need a headshot RIGHT NOW to send out. You pull out the recent school picture and send it in. A school portrait is, by design, a cookie cutter portrait. It is meant to look like every other kid at the school. For this reason, it is probably one of the worst things you could send as a headshot. You want your headshot to stand out, not blend in. Save the school portraits for Grandma.
(This is by no means a commentary on the quality of this school portrait or school portraits in general. It is simply meant to demonstrate that school portraits and actor headshots are two entirely different styles and require different approaches.)
Find a photographer with headshot experience and if you need it now, tell them you are in a rush. They may charge you slightly more, but it will be worth it to get a shot that doesn’t look like a school picture… doesn’t scream “I’m boring and was too lazy to get a headshot done for you.”
Would you believe there is only a few months between these two headshots? This is the difference. One of these images will stand out. The other will not. Which would you rather send?
A special thank you goes out to Madison and all the actors who helped with this blog project. They were great sports in letting me purposely photograph them badly (and, in this case, use their school portrait).