How To Step Up Your Headshot Game

Ok, I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret.

When I first started acting, I was surprised to learn how antiquated the headshot printing process is. What most people do is print a big stack of headshots, staple paper resumes on to these headshots, audition, use a few and then eventually throw away hundreds of unused headshots, because they’re outdated. This was annoying me for several reasons. First of all, why wasted the paper? A rule of thumb is that you need new headshots every 6-8 months. A year, if you’re lucky. Most photo labs that specifically offer headshot printing will sell you prints in large quantities. Hundreds of prints. Commercial auditions rarely ask for a headshot anymore (if you’re SAG-AFTRA, at least), and let’s be honest, do you really need 500 headshots for your theatrical auditions every year?

I didn’t think so.

Second of all, why spend good money on a nice headshot only to ruin it by stapling a piece of paper to the back of it? The staples mess up the composition of the shot that you paid your professional photographer big dollars to take, and if you have a stack of them in, say, your car or your bag, they staples will scratch whatever prints they’re stacked with. No bueno, amigos.

So I did some thinking and here’s what I came up with.

1. Get your hi-res files from the photographer and set them up in Photoshop.

It’s easy. With just minimal Photoshop skills, you can open a new document, size it 8×10 (standard headshot size), add a border and your name – or design it however you want. Import your hi-res headshot image and size it so it fits nicely within your 8×10 canvas and any borders you may have added. Save as JPG in maximum quality.

2. Print small quantities with WHCC.

WHCC is an online printing service that let’s you create an account (they call it a studio), download an app for easy ordering and image uploads, and then order whatever quantities you need, whenever you need them. Free shipping is included. Though this option is slightly more expensive than printing large quantities at a Hollywood photo lab, you will never end up with more headshots than you need and the quality is professional photo studio quality.

3. Print your resume on adhesive paper.

Personally, I use the Avery Internet Shipping Labels. They are a little smaller than the 8×10 prints, so they fit nicely on the back of your headshot. They’re thick and a little rigid, so they make your headshot less prone to bending and kinks. No staples needed.

That’s it! Update your resume, print new headshots and labels as needed and stop wasting money on headshots you won’t be using – or ruining the ones you will be using by stapling them.

But don’t tell anyone. I like it when my headshot stands out from the stack on the Casting Director’s table.

Mads Black

About Mads Black

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Mads is a Scandinavian-born, Los Angeles-based actor and aspiring film maker. He's dabbled in stunt driving (no one got hurt) and once rescued a baby bunny from his garage.

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