A BRIEF HISTORY OF ACTING HEADSHOTS IN THE 21ST CENTURY by Kevin Patrick Robins
Technology has changed and shaped the way casting directors find actors and how actors present and promote themselves. In response to the changing demands of casting directors and to adapt to new technologies, the way photographers take and process headshots has evolved quite rapidly over the last decade or so.
When I got my first acting headshots taken (below), it was standard to pay for three rolls of film, 24-36 shots each. Black and white. This is how the idea of “three looks” started. You would shoot a roll of film with one look, get changed, shoot another roll, get change/shave, shoot a third roll of film. That was it. Then you waited a week or two for the film to be developed. After that, you had to either go back to the photographer’s studio or to a photo reproduction lab to pick up your contact sheet.
Once you got your contact sheet, you would look at your images closely, usually under a magnifying glass, if you had one — lucky for me I had a loupe — to select however many images you would then want/need to print. At that time, you needed to hand over a printed 8″ x 10″ headshot every time you went to an audition, no matter how many times you went to the same casting house. Most actors carried copies of their résumé and headshots with them almost everywhere they went, in a manilla envelope, protected by a thin piece of cardboard on each side to prevent the prints from getting damaged, handing them out to every agent, director and casting director they bumped into. Printing new headshots all the time was costly, especially for an actor.
If you needed digital versions for your website, or to email to casting directors in other cities, you either needed to have your own scanner, or pay someone to scan the images, which would often include fees to read the disk, a fee to scan and then another fee to save the digitized image to a CD-ROM.
To read more about this go to kevinnpatrickrobins.com