Welcome! In this blog, we will be discussing everything you need to know about headshots. As I mentioned in my last post, dancers will turn in a headshot and resume (stapled back to back) to casting directors at auditions. We will cover the different types of looks, formats, and how to get the most out of your headshots. Let’s get started!
In general, there are three different types of headshots a dancer should have: commercial, urban/edgy, and body conscious. However, this is not the be-all-end-all checklist. It really depends on what kind of jobs you want to audition for. In general, though, these are the most common type of photos L.A. dancers use. Dancers ages 17 and under do not need a body conscious shot.
1. Commercial Photos
For commercial headshots, think Disney! Bright and bubbly! Every dancer at every age needs a commercial photo. For this photo, you should wear a bright fitted t-shirt. A white or bright, solid-colored background usually works well for this type of photo. There should be minimal distractions in this type of photo, so that means no jewelry. Makeup should look natural so that we can focus on your beauty. And this is where a full smile is needed. For this type of photo, close-ups and half-body shots are best. Below you will find two examples. The first photo (yellow t-shirt) was taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera. You can clearly see the quality difference in headshots, however, the quality of the first photo is perfectly fine if you are just starting out or don’t have the funds to get professional photos taken.
Photography on the left: Galen Hooks (part of the Galen Hooks Immersion intensive, more details to come about this in the future!) @GalenHooks @thegalenhooksmethod
Photography on the right: Lindsay Rosenberg @lnzyrosephoto
Dancer: Carly Johnson @Carlyjanejohnson12
Agency: Go 2 Talent Agency
2. Urban/Edgy Photos
For your edgy photos, think about how you would dress for a Rihanna audition! I personally feel that this type of photo is where you can show your style the most. Get creative and think out of the box. These photos can be done inside or outside. Make sure a range of photos are taken from full-body to half-body so you have options. For your makeup, feel free to add some subtle glitter eye shadows or a smoky eye. Heels are ideal for these photos, as they make you look taller and don’t cut off your line.
Photographer: Gunner James @gjx.pix
Dancer: Addison Paige @theaddisonpaige
Agency: Movement Talent Agency
3. Body Conscious (Sexy)
For this type of photo, you want to think beach! Note, however, that it’s not about how much skin you show. There are a lot of dancers in this industry who are in great physical shape and still decide not to show everything. A word of warning: beach does NOT necessarily mean swimsuit. On camera, swimsuits don’t usually look to be of good quality. I suggest taking some test shots (on the phone) before your photo session. If your swimsuit looks like a swimsuit, then it’s time to find a new outfit. Photos of a dancer in a swimsuit, in heels, or in a photo studio tend to look rather awkward. It usually doesn’t work together. Instead, consider wearing a strappy bralette with shorts and cut-off fishnets or a cool body suit that shows off your figure.
For these photos, no matter what body type you are, focus on your lines! Don’t stand with your legs directly under you and with your hands at your sides—this pose doesn’t show the power in your body. You want your body to take up as much space as possible (this applies to your urban photos as well).
Photographer: Lindsay Rosenberg @lnzyrosephoto
Dancer: Stacey Zielinski @stacey.zielinski
Agency: Go 2 Talent Agency
17 and Younger Headshots
Just to reiterate, dancers 17 years of age and younger do not need a body-conscious photo. To be completely honest, they don’t need an urban/edgy photo either. Those are usually for adults, but some kids do have headshots in this style. However, dancers 17 and younger do need two different types of looks (outfits). Make sure the outfits look different from each other! Instead, you might want to add a girl/boy-next-door type of photo. Wear something simple, like a flannel. Consider the type of outfit you would wear to school. Still, remember to show off your personality. If you’re quirky, then take a quirky photo! Just demonstrate who you are.
Once you have selected your final photos, you will need to format them. Start by adding a white border to all four sides of each photo. Along the bottom border, add your first and last name only. You can align the text however you wish. It doesn’t matter if your name appears on the left, center, or right side of the page—as long as it’s at the bottom, the rest is up to you. Talk to your photographer or printer to see if they can help you with your border and text. They usually can!
Once you are signed, your agency will pick the photos that you will print and use at auditions. These are called “selects.” Your agency will also decide how the border and text should appear on your photos. They might even add their logo.
Getting the Most Out of Your Photos
Headshots can be expensive! So it’s best if you are fully prepared when you have them done. To make your photos last as long as possible, avoid trends that might date your shots. Remember a while back when people used to put feathers in their hair? It’s not so common now, is it? That’s the sort of thing that you want to avoid.
Though headshots are pricey, investing in your photos means investing in yourself. The better quality photos you have on casting websites, the more likely you are to book work and/or get auditions.
There are plenty of great photographers in L.A. Do your research and ask friends in the dance community who they have used. Also, use Instagram! You can find great photographers who lack name recognition but can do high-quality work for way cheaper. There is a photographer out there for every budget.
Tips and Tricks
- Most importantly, make sure your photos look like you! That might sound obvious, but it’s too important to overlook! If you have bangs in your photos but have since grown them out, it’s time for new headshots!
- Wear clothing that is comfortable and that reflects who you are! If you are not comfortable in your clothing on camera, it will show!
- Thicker materials tend to show up better on camera (i.e., denim and cargo, but not sweaters).
- Be sure to wear fitted clothing. Casting directors need to clearly see your body and lines.
- Go shopping beforehand and bring multiple options to the photo shoot. The photographer might have an eye for an outfit that you never would have thought of. Leave the tags on and return the clothes you don’t use.
- Avoid wearing logos in your photos. You don’t to have a headshot with an Adidas logo on your shirt when you’re walking into a Nike audition. Whoops!
- Avoid wearing thigh-high boots/heels—they cut off the line of your leg.
- Play some music during the photo shoot to loosen up. Confidence is key!
- See if the photographer has a makeup artist that they work with. If they do, I suggest using them. They are experts, and they can help you look glamorous! REMEMBER: stage makeup and photo shoot make-up are two different things.
- Again… BE CONFIDENT!
For more examples of headshots, head over to the agencies’ websites (Bloc, MTA, MSA, GTA, Clear) and look at their clients’ photos. Alternatively, look up different photographers on Instagram to see their work and what their clients wore.