A Guide To Fame And Fortune Through Fitness, Part 2!

The next part of successfully entering the fitness and entertainment industry is having great photographs. Learn more about what casting directors, producers, and directors will be looking for in a great photo!
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The most important tools that any fitness model or actress needs are great photographs. A great photo is also the first tool that you will need to employ once you have the talent, charisma, and ability to do the jobs for which you'll be auditioning.

If you ask any casting director who casts in any media form (film/TV, commercial, or print ads), they will unquestionably tell you that if your photos are not great, you will never get to the next step. Your photos can't be fair, good, or even very good. They need to be excellent enough that they make a big impression on the casting director first, and then the producers and director at later callbacks.

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Now that we have established the importance of great photos, let's get into the specific details.


Head Shots

The most asked-for photograph would be your head shot. Your head shot should be 8"x10" and it can be either black and white or color. Black and white have always been the preferred head shot until relatively recently, but now more and more performers have been submitting color photos.

Brenda Kelly Brenda Kelly
Click Image To Enlarge.
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Black and white photos tend to be more dramatic, particularly if they are perfectly lit. In talking to casting directors, they all want the photo to look exactly as you look. What that means is they don't want a photo that has been retouched to the point where the picture does not represent accurately what you look like.

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I will get into this topic in more detail a little later in this article. If you are both a model and an actor/actress, you will want to have a head shot for theatrical (film, tv, and theatre) and a separate head shot for commercials. As a general rule, the theatrical head shot will be more dramatic looking.

The best head shot will have a plain background, and you should be wearing a white blouse. Your makeup should be as clean and natural looking as possible. Your hair and grooming should be perfect, and your facial expression should showcase your unique features and charisma.

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Casting directors can see your presence and persona in your pictures. For actors/actresses in either commercials or theatrical, casting directors need to believe that you have the right look for the part or character you are auditioning for. The lighting needs to be even and balanced. There should be no hot spots that are brighter than other places on the photo, and no shadows in the picture.

Most head shots have the model smiling, but a more serious look is fine as long as the model looks relaxed and the expression is pleasant. The model should be looking directly into the camera. Some photographers like to get creative, and have the model looking up or away from the camera.

Your head shot is about you, however, not the photographer! The photo should be a good close-up shot from slightly above your head to your shoulders. Your résumé should be attached to the back of your head shot.

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For a commercial head shot, you can aim for a more commercial look, which means that your picture should reflect the type of image that you want to portray. For example, if you have an all-American, girl next door look, then your picture will reflect that. If you are going for the sexy and sultry look, your picture needs to portray you that way.

You can wear a little more makeup if that fits your image, but you still need to fight the urge to be too creative. You also need to look directly into the camera. Good lighting is essential for any kind of photo that you use to find work in the entertainment industry. Your résumé should be attached to the back of your commercial head shot.

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Comp Cards

If you are only looking for work in print advertisements, you will still need a good head shot, but I would encourage you to have a comp card (also known as a "zed" card) made. These are cards that would have your head shot on the front of it, and either 2, 3, or 4 photos on the back of the card.

Christina Lindley Christina Lindley
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The Girl Next Door?

For fitness models, you should have a shot in a bikini and a photo in a C & S (Cute & Sexy) outfit. An example of a C & S shot might be a bra top and very short shorts and perhaps a photo in a pretty cocktail dress.

If you are a commercial or lingerie model, you would still put your head shot on the front of your comp card, and on the back you can use a photo of a tear sheet from an advertisement you did, a photo in a glamour outfit, and perhaps a shot in a swimsuit or lingerie.

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Here is where being creative will work well. There are many different types of comp cards. They are generally 5"x8", and can be 2 pages (front and back), 4 pages (2 pages, front and back), or you can design it however you like. The more complicated it is, the more expensive.

You can get simple black and white comp cards for as little as 35-50 cents each. Cost is the difference between color and black and white head shots, too. Commercial actors can also use comp cards.


Photo Retouching

One of the great things about the world today is the emergence of amazing new technology.

You can take photos with a state of the art camera, and then you can re-touch the photos using computer programs like Photoshop to correct genetic flaws on your face or body. For example, you can make your waist look smaller, or make your nose look smaller digitally on any photo.

If you are submitting photos to casting directors that have been massively re-touched, however, you are making a big mistake. Every single casting director I spoke to said that what they want most are photos that look exactly like you look.

I know that I have been a casting director for films where I have met with actors who gave me their head shot, and I did a double-take. I would look at them, and look at their photo, and then back at them, and thought... is this picture of the same person I am looking at?

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Just remember that if your pictures are not great, you will not only never get a job, but you will not even get to the next step, which is the first call-back. The reason? It means that either you don't photograph well, or you are not professional enough to get great photos.

You don't need to go to the top fashion photographers in the world. Go out and look for photographers whose work you like. There are excellent photographers in most major cities in the United States. Your agent should help you pick the best shot for your head shot. He or she will know from experience which shots will work best in "selling" you to casting directors and producers.

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Stay tuned for Part III: "Finding An Agent - Managers Versus Agents."

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5