A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense,
and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety. ~Ansel Adams
The opera singer headshot is one of the final pieces in this magnificent press kit we built over the last few days. Whereas our headshots may not live up to Adams’ “life in its entirety” convictions, we should strive for a strong representation of overall character, personality, and comportment in each professional photo. It is simple enough; we are only asking for a photo that focuses on our face and shoulders at most, right? However, it is much more than that. Headshots are our calling cards. It should look like you and hint at aspects of your personality that you will bring to the stage. Assuming that most of you already have headshots, your Day 8 challenge is to mastermind your headshot portfolio.
Let’s start with a quick list of must-do and not-on-your-life tips:
- It must look like you as you look now.
- It must look like your age.
- When you walk in the room, we must recognize it as the same person.
- We must be able to look at your picture after you leave the room and remember your personality and your performance.
- Your head should be the prominent feature, fully in the frame, but should not take up the entire frame.
- The photographer must give you full rights to make reproductions in any manner you wish. This is the professional thing to do. If your photographer has never heard of this or doesn’t want to do it, they are not a professional photographer when it comes to working with performers. This is an immediate sign to find someone else. This means the photo session will cost you more than at a studio in a mall. The mall shops make money by selling you 8x10s for $10+. Pros make money by charging you $150+ while allowing you to run off copies at Wal-Mart for $1 a piece.
- Optional: put your name somewhere on the photo, front or back.
- Some competitions or companies do not want this. You may need a set of headshots without your name.
- Or, you can use simply designed labels with your name and contact information to affix to the back of the headshot.
Don’t even think about it:²
- Glamour Shots (the company and the look – most companies want to see you looking beautiful and natural.)
- Wal-Mart portraits
- Mall photo studios
- Excessive make-up.
- Overly teased or overly done-up hair. This is not a prom-photo.
- Excessive cleavage.
- No full body shots.
If you have any questions about the who, what, where, of headshots,
read our series with awesome photographer Britt Olsen-Ecker here, here, and here.
Most singers find it necessary to have two to three separate “looks”. Think about the type of roles in which you should be cast. The trick to a good headshot is to let the image exude your personality. If you are trying to convey yourself as a comic actor, stray away from poses that are too glum, moody, or serious. In that same vein, do not situate yourself in a way that is too zany. Smile and let your eyes do the work. Capturing the eyes in a powerful way will draw the viewer to the photo and establish an emotional connection.
Once cast, your headshot will mainly be used for publicity purposes. By sending the right look originally, dramatic for Tosca – comic for Figaro, you will be helping the PR department brand the upcoming production. Overall, high-resolution, color images are preferred. They can always take your image and make it black and white. Make sure you have some way for the marketing gurus to obtain your high-resolution photos. If you do not yet have a website (don’t worry, we’ll get there) use a service like Dropbox to share high-res images.
The key behind masterminding your headshot portfolio is organization. Make sure you have headshots in digital and hard copy form. Keep the original discs and hard copies together in a place that you can get to easily. Digital headshots can be kept in multiple resolutions and sizes. Organize your digital originals as well. Your top-level folders could be sorted by comic and dramatic or by which outfit you wore. The next level down could include more descriptive groupings. Use descriptive file names to help you retrieve the exact image you want. Consider storing them in the cloud for easy access when you are on the go. Just like sending résumés and bios, rename the file name as your name.
Take some time today to organize and reevaluate your opera headshots. It is just one more step in your 29 Days to Diva (#29daystodiva)!
Do you have any tips or tricks that we missed? Have a great photographer that you would like to recommend to other singers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
- 29 Days to Diva: Day 7 – Audition like you mean it. (#29daystodiva) (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
- 29 Days to Diva: Day 2 – Fix That Résumé (#29daystodiva) (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
- 29 Days to Diva: Day 4 – ‘Meet the Noblesse’ (#29daystodiva) (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
- 29 Days to Diva: Day 5 – ‘take a look, it’s in a book’ (#29daystodiva) (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
- 29 Days to Diva: Day 3 – A Singer’s Bio (#29daystodiva) (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
- 29 Days to Diva: Day 1 – Practice! (#29daystodiva) (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
- 29 Days to Diva: Day 6 – Recordings: Bring the noise! (#29daystodiva) (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
- 29 Days to Diva: The Beginning (sybariticsinger.wordpress.com)
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