Let’s talk about headshots because I just got them done for the third time in my adult life and it’s amazing to see what changes in our faces as time goes on. I briefly touched on this in my post about (my queen) Jenna Fischer’s recently-published book The Actors Life; but that was almost six months ago, and many facets of my world and body have since changed.
Prior to 2013, I had never gotten headshots taken by a true “headshot photographer” — believe me, there’s a difference. I had photos taken of me, and they were more than sufficient for youth community theatre productions, but they weren’t professional headshots. Let’s take a gander:
2005: The Pre-Highlight Days I will give a shout-out to Donna Korb for giving me a very professional-looking shot for a few years. But after my hair went super-blonde and I went through, ya know, puberty, I needed something more up-to-date.
Cut to 2009: The year of the freshman fifteen and when her teeth clearly became addicted to Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee Western Connecticut State University’s Theater Department forced us all to get headshots taken by the Western Connecticut State University’s Photography Department. It made sense in theory, and it was completely free, but I’m pretty positive I rolled out of bed ten minutes before these were taken and that the man taking my photo was standing six feet above the top of my head on a stool. I had to crop and edit the crap out of this (I will spare you the original).
2011: The Year of the Stacked Bob. I loved this haircut — it was $5, and I wish I was lying but it was the best haircut I’ve ever gotten. This was clearly a far cry from my first round of free WCSU headshots in 2009. But even so, I couldn’t use this come senior year, when I needed to dive head-first into the real world.
Which brings us to the first round of professional headshots I ever shelled out money for. Most of my college senior class went to Taylor Hooper Photography in New York (who takes stunning headshots); I opted for Julia Gerace Photography in Shelton, Connecticut. She is a legitimate headshot photographer, extremely cost-effective, and also takes great shots. Though I did not choose to have this photo retouched, for comparison moving forward, this was one of my proofs:
2013: The Year of Strawberry Blonde. At the tail-end of 2012 into 2013, I was a redhead. I loved it just as much as my $5 2011 bob, but the upkeep was too much and, let’s face it, I’m a blonde. So, right before getting my headshots done with Julia, I started the journey back to blonde. You would never be able to tell, because here I look like little orphan Annie, but there are a whole lot of blonde highlights trying their hardest to peak out. I used these headshots for about three years. Three years before I decided they could no longer appropriately represent me; and not because of the photos themselves, but by Summer of 2014, I was fully blonde again, and these were not the same women:
2016: The Year I Finally Started Getting Callbacks January of 2016, I scheduled a shoot with Curtis & Cort Photography in New York (talk about a dream team). Curtis Holbrook and Cortney Wolfson are a dynamic duo of Broadway performers who know what you need in a quality headshot (and know you shouldn’t need to offer up your first born child to get one). Cortney does the hair and make up, Curtis takes the photos, and they make you feel like you feel, not only like a model, but like a friend they’ve welcomed into their home. Shooting with them was a dream come true, and these new headshots got me so much further in my audition season…
I finally felt like I was representing and branding myself appropriately. No more questions from casting directors about why the girl in the picture had red hair and the one standing in from was platinum blonde. No more wondering how old I really was since I was using such a dated photo of myself. Curtis & Cort captured me beautifully.
And here we are, two years later, and I felt I still looked pretty much the same as my gorgeous, two-year-old Curtis & Cort shots; and, in all fairness, at the beginning of this calendar year, I did. But I kept getting typed-out of open calls based on my headshot and I could not figure out why. So I decided to go to a casting seminar at Actor’s Connection that had a Q & A with one of the casting directors (who shall remain nameless, but is a genuine dream) who had been typing me out of calls for shows such as Kinky Boots, RENT, etc. I handed her the same headshot I had thrown in the pile with hundreds of other girls, sang my song, and waited for her feedback. The first thing she asked me was how old my headshots were and if I had lost weight since getting my them taken. I was very surprised, since I thought this was a pretty fair representation of me:
She said after seeing me, she can see my body in this photo, but the way I’m positioned and the cut of my top makes me look a lot bigger than I am. She said she would call this girl in the photo in for a role like Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, and, after seeing me in person, knows that isn’t a part she would cast me in.
It was incredibly eye-opening. I never would have seen that in this photo without her pointing it out to me. So I decided it was time for new headshots; I felt due for them anyway. My hair was longer, I wanted to bring more of my natural dark blonde out than my usual platinum blonde, and I needed something a little more vibrant.
2018: The Year of Whole30ing (Again) I scheduled a shoot with Sub/Urban Photography. I felt like their shots were a more vibrant and cost-effective alternative to that of David Noles Photography, one of the top and most expensive headshot photographers in this business. I fell in love with Sub/Urban’s vibe, and better yet, their team is also amazing. Amanda and Jake, the photographers, are another dream team (much like Curtis and Cortney) and Alex, the hair and make up stylist, is literally a magician.
I had been on the Whole30 Challenge for the month of March prior to my shoot with Sub/Urban and, let me tell you, it was the best decision I ever made, not only looking at the outcome of this shoot, but the comparison between my face in 2016 and my face now.
*Photos are not edited by the photographers
*Photos are not edited by the photographers
I asked my friends who I had eaten in 2016, and, looking back, I don’t think my weight was that much different. It’s my face. I had probably been eating whatever I wanted before my shoot in 2016; but being on the Whole30 leading up to my headshot session made me less bloated, fresher, and cleaner-looking. And while I will give credit where credit is due to the photographers, the shots I had done by Curtis & Cort were equally as beautiful as the shots I just got by Sub/Urban — I just wasn’t taking as great care of myself as I am now.
Yet another reason to try the Whole30 Challenge, friends! I’m serious, it will rock your world.