A History of Headshots
One of the actors I like and admire most, Aaron Lustig, has posted “The Evolution of the Headshot… Mine, That is” on his blog and it’s very amusing. As a working actor for many years, he has a collection of headshots dating back to 1974. Sometimes he has hair on his face, sometimes he has hair on his head but you can see the progression of changes over the years. It’s worth your time to read it. As soon as you see him, you’ll recognize him from the films and television shows he’s been cast in.
But that brings up another point… headshot styles change. As you’ll see from Aaron’s blog, most of his are in black and white. If you’re old enough to remember, headshots were once done strictly in B&W and were shot in film. So the photographer would shoot, I don’t know, maybe three 36-exposure rolls of film (if you were lucky) which meant you had 108 choices — and who knows how many were actually usable since you couldn’t see anything until they were developed.
Now, with digital, everything is in color and you know immediately during your session what’s working and what isn’t. You can fine tune your expressions and, for that matter, your clothing choices or your hair and makeup. You can become the best you can be in your headshot. It’s brilliant, really, that digital. What I do is bring along my little 13-inch MacBook Pro so that we can look at the images together. It’s hard to fully see yourself on the back of the camera but once it comes up on screen on the laptop, you get a really good idea of how your session is going. So that way we know when we’ve nailed a look. You’ll have a lot to choose from but you know there is at least one look that just sings out loud.
And speaking of trends in headshots, Aaron’s blog gives you quite a taste of how things have changed. You’ll see that the current style is much more relaxed and casual. I also love horizontal headshots and his blog includes examples of those.
Although I urge you to go take a look at Aaron’s evolution, I’ll give you a little taste of his headshots.
By the way, Aaron teaches at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in Los Angeles. I’ve taken headshots of many of his students and they love him!