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A head shot or headshot is a modern portrait for today's branding needs, where the focus of the photograph is the personality inside the person captured. A headshot is a specific type of portrait. A head shot is an image that portrays a person as he is, however simple or stylized the image might be. In contrast to the head shot, an environmental portrait would portray a person with elements of his life such as his work, interests, etc.
Head shot photographs are now being used for professional social media such as LinkedIn, castingworkbook, online dating profile photos and the section about us page or our team in most websites. Portraits are photographed by professional head shot photographers to illustrate the personality inside the actor, business executive, musician, politician and so forth.
Theater, film, and television actors, models, singers, and other entertainers often are required to include a head shot, along with their resume, when applying for a job. These head shots are usually more artistic, intended to portray the subject in the best possible light. They often have the subject facing off-centre. A performer will often have head shots expressing different poses and expressions to give a potential employer an idea of the for subject's range of appearances or expressions. Those types of head shots are called "looks". However, this practice is less common in the current market. It is still common for an actor to have different head shots for their sitcom audition as opposed to their film audition, but for the most part these would represent a change in attire. The headshots that include a person’s shoulders are called "three quarter" shots. In addition, in the past, head shots were often in black and white; however, most head shots are now taken in color.
Actors' head shots, when printed and not simply uploaded online to an industry database, are done in an 8"×10" format. Other promotional images, e.g., press shots and lobby prints, may be in many different aspect ratios. Acting headshots are usually 8"×10" prints. Acting headshots are often not photographic prints but will be printed via a lithographic process or the laser process.
The main purpose of an actor's head shot is identification. Therefore the most important feature of an actor's headshot is that it looks like the subject. Actors' head shots should be clear; theatrical headshots are usually very "neutral" looking shots of the actor clearly showing his facial features.
Headshots are intended to show a person as they currently are (age, look, style, etc.) and reflect their best qualities. Therefore, if an actor's hair is recently cut or coloured, they might then need a new headshot to reflect the new image of themselves. Additionally, if an actor has a scar of the face or moles, it should be visible on the headshot and not digitally retouched out of the image. Pimples or spots are temporary and therefore these are usually retouched.
Modelling headshots or comp cards and sometimes also called tear sheet are images and/or compilation of images for casting in one sheet with a resume of work, name and vital statistics. They are often done in colour, however in some jurisdictions, such as the UK, they may be in black and white. Models often use them for castings and modelling work applications. A close up headshot is often required to show model's skin complexion for beauty work.
Modelling headshots are usually used for:
- Comp Card or tear sheet
- Modelling Portfolios
- TV advertising for skin products
- Magazine advertisements for creams and other skin or hair products
- Online Industry profiles
Model headshots are also often professionally retouched to make sure their close up beauty photograph looks perfect without blemishes or spots.
Comp card are one of the cornerstones of a model’s “Marketing Materials”. They will be about 5½×8” and printed on both sides. Almost all of the comp cards are in color but may have black and white images. A model may have 4 to 5 images on the comp card and at least one of these images will be a headshot.
Corporate and business industry
Corporate headshots similar to those used by actors. These images are most often produced digitally and distributed electronically, though some companies still favor displaying a printed version. Lighting for corporate headshots is simple and nondramatic, but flattering. Traditional headshots are still taken in a studio setting, though shots "on-location" or "in-the-field" continue to increase in popularity. In both cases, backgrounds continue to be simple. Subjects are often shown head-to-midchest, or from head to just above the waist.
Corporate headshots serve a variety of purposes, including:
- Annual reports
- (Nonstandard) resumes
- Corporate catalogs, brochures and advertising collateral
- Company publications and websites, internal and external
- Press releases and other announcements
- Marketing materials
- Articles and newspapers
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