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Make Dramatic Headshots In 4-Steps

I have been a struggling actor in the past, and I know how crucial dramatic headshots are.

But there are several types of headshots, and all have different purposes. If you are an actor who is more interested in getting gigs in the drama genre, you need to have a set of dramatic headshots. 

Here, I will explain what dramatic headshots are, how you can make one for yourself, and other related queries. 

What are Dramatic Headshots?

Dramatic headshots are a subcategory of theatrical headshots. The purpose of having these shots is to show how you can carry your emotions. 

These headshots show certain emotions, which are intense in nature. 

Such headshots are in getting roles in projects that are in the drama genre. 

Here are some examples:

dramatic headshots collection

Learn More About Different Types of Headshots For Actors

How Do You Make Dramatic Headshots?

Looking at the examples, you would have sensed how dramatic headshots should look. 

But knowing what it should look like and achieving it, in reality, are two different things.  

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Let me give you a process I followed to create useful dramatic headshots that are audition specific. 

1. Choosing The Photographer

Of course, you can hire a professional headshot photographer. It will be your go-to solution if you have no experience in making headshots.

However, it won’t ensure the best headshot. Because a photographer may help you with the quality of the photograph, but the emotion needed for the headshot has to come from you, the actor. But we will look learn that later.

For now, you need to understand that get a photographer that can capture the emotion with perfection. 

If you have a budget, you can look for local professional photographers. 

I suggest checking out Instagram. It is the best source to find photographers. Most of them post their work on Instagram. 

Connect with the photographers and ask for their rates. You will find all types of photographers online, from beginners to professionals. So Choose according to your needs. 

If you want to look for potential photographers offline, visit a nearby studio or ask any photographer friend. But make sure you examine their portfolio before hiring them. 

Look for the following things while looking for headshot photographers:

  • They should have experience or expertise in headshot photography.
  • They should have experience of working with actors.
  • They should have good knowledge of lighting.
  • They should either have good editing skill or have specialized editor.

2. Preparing For The Shoot

Once the photography is taken care of, you have to focus on the emotion and the character.

You should connect with your casting agent or the people responsible for the audition and find out about the role you want to audition for. 

Unless you have in-depth knowledge of the character, you won’t be able to capture yourself as the character in the headshot. 

Try to find the following things about the character:

  • The backstory of the character
  • Where he or she lives? 
  • What does he or she wear?
  • Psychology of the character

You don’t have to go all method acting. Knowing your character will help you get the desired look and emotion for the headshot.

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In addition to that, please try to get costumes that match the character. If possible, change your hairstyle as well. 

In case you are not targeting any audition and want a general headshot that can be used for multiple auditions, then you don’t have to go through this process. 

But I suggest planning for a few different dramatic headshots that show you in different types of characters. 

So whenever there is audition call, you can send the one headshot that is close to the requirement of the audition. 

3. Poses And Expressions

This is the most crucial step of the process. This is where you will plan how to stand or sit and what you will do in front of the camera. 

The first thing you need to work on is the pose. You don’t have to go too deep into poses. 

It is a headshot. Most of the shots will be close or mid-close. So you have to only work with the upper half of your body. 

The other thing you have to plan is your expressions. The expressions required from dramatic headshots need to be subtle. Also go for different types of emotions, so that you can show the casting agent how you look with different expressions. 

The best way to approach poses and expressions is to play a character. Especially if you have good knowledge about the character you plan to audition for, play the same character even while shooting headshots. 

If you have no such knowledge, just pick a few emotions and shoot for each. 

4. Post-Production and Choosing The Best Shots

Once shooting is done, you will have lots of photos. Don’t use all of them. Choose the best of them. 

I advise you to categorize the shots based on the expressions and poses. After that, choose the best photo for each pose and expression.

I suggest involving a third person (apart from you and the photographer) in this process. 

The reason behind having a third person is that you and the photographer have seen these photos several times. And when you look at photos several times, you tend to like each of them, and it is hard to discard any. But the third person looking the photos for the first time can give you an unbiased opinion. 

Final Thought

If you follow this 4-step process, I am sure you will have some dramatic headshots for your acting portfolio. As you get more experience of making headshots, you will be able to get better results every time you follow this process.