There’s an unfortunate trend that you’ll see when looking at sample headshots all over the internet. For some reason major portions of the actor’s head and face are missing. You want to get cast, not be the photographer’s experimental art. If the picture is missing ears, foreheads, eyebrows, chins, etc., just say no.
It’s OK to crop off just a bit of the top of your head, but don’t do it so it looks like you’re hiding a bald spot. And don’t crop your neck so it looks like you’re hiding plastic surgery scars.
Some photographers, like me, include retouching in their packages. Some will do retouching for additional fees.
If not, make sure you take the pictures to be reproduced at a shop that offers professional retouching.
But be careful. Some retouchers go overboard. Make sure it still looks like you! Pictures should be retouched to bring out your eyes, clean up loose hairs, maybe lighten or clean up some shadows. Retouching should not make you look 5 years younger or 20 pounds lighter. (See What Is A Great Headshot, Rule #1: A Great Headshot Looks Like You).
Casting directors know when a picture has been retouched to remove every line and pore from your face. They aren’t going to bring you in for an audition if they think the picture looks fake.
Even if the picture fools them, it’s no use to you if they are looking for someone without freckles, and you come in covered with them.
It’s OK to touch up acne and other blemishes if they’re temporary breakouts. But if you have acne all the time, or if you have acne scars, do not retouch it. A fake picture keeps you from getting appropriate auditions.
Once you’re satisfied with your headshot, you need to get it printed. Here in New York City, there are several options including Reproductions, Modernage and Precision Photos. Plus, you can find print shops online if you don’t live near one or don’t require personal service.
But the most important advice I can give is to get a printed proof of your headshot before you order your final prints. Even if you’ve viewed your headshot on a finely calibrated monitor, it will look different when it’s printed. If the proof doesn’t look exactly like you want it to, ask the lab to reprint it to satisfy your standards. And then when you receive your final prints, make sure they match the proof.
Want to learn more? Then read the whole Guide To Great Headshots: