Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Headshot Debate - Join In!

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

April 9, 2007

Comments (30)

Headshots for voice actorsDo voice talents and voice actors need headshots?

This topic came up on a panel at VOICE 2007 and there were many opinions presented.

What do you think?

During the conference, there was an agent present who worked with voice talent in addition to on-camera talent based out of Las Vegas.

The agent suggested that although voice actors don't necessarily need professional headshots, agents will often ask for them so that they have more material to market you with.

As Chris Wagner noted a comment left on the previous post, a professional headshot is one taken by a trained photographer with a high quality camera, not a friend or family member with a run of the mill or disposable camera.

Let's say that the VO market was really slow going in your neck of the woods...

If your agent had a professional headshot to promote you with, they could potentially land you some work in print, on-camera, or announcing / presenting at live events.

This logic is based upon the fact that many people who work in voice overs also pursue other performing art forms (acting, singing, dancing) or are print models.

That being said, I think agents also would like to know what you look like if you are from out of town and they don't know you from meeting in person. A headshot may give them more of a reason to remember you and refer you for gigs.

Now, the flip side...

Not everyone has an agent and not all agents require headshots from people they represent who do not work on-camera or at live events.

As many of you have noted, sometimes a photograph does not correlate visually with what you have to offer vocally (not a voice professional let alone your voice matching your physiology).

For instance, you could be a shorter, slender man with a big booming voice. If your photo betrays you in the slightest, you may lose work over it because your physical image isn't what the casting director had in mind for the role (even though the job may not be for on-camera work).

Providing a photograph could also give someone the opportunity to judge you with your photograph as primary criteria before even hearing your voice. This act or decision made by the client hiring voice talent could potentially stereotype you based upon your photograph.

But... what about the notion that showcasing a photograph builds trust?

There's a catch 22 where having a photo as a voice actor is concerned.

For those of you who have a headshot, why did you decide to feature one on your website?

For those of you who choose not to do feature a headshot, we'd love to hear why you made the decision not to.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

Best,

Stephanie

Related Topics: agents


Comments


    I've heard top teachers and agents say "Don't put your photo on ANYTHING," but I have a professional headshot posted on my site for two reasons.

    One, it provides a more personal connection if you can see the person you're hearing.

    Two, my work is based on a more-natural style (with the exception of "out there" character and animation stuff). As an actor, I selected a headshot that portrayed me naturally. As a Voiceover Artist, the photo represents a quality of my work.

    And I do not seriously believe that anybody didn't hire me for voicework because of my headshot.

    Posted by:

      I have just recently added a picture (not a professional headshot) to my voices.com website. I did so to make my website more complete and (hopefully) move up in the rankings. Also, I thought it may give someone a reason to remember me. It's not a full face shot and therefore doesn't completely betray my physiology. It's more of a personality type picture for me.

      I've been struggling with this very question lately and am interested to see what everyone else thinks.

      Thanks!

      Posted by:

        Hi folks,

        Unfortunately stereotypes persist and the media is enormously successful and guilty of perpetuating stock imaging for age and ethnicity.

        I have been hired by demo and and watched mouths drop when I walked in the studio to do the job.

        I do not have an agent, and just recently returned to the business after many years. I anticipate building options in my marketing strategy for potential clients. I will have to assess when a head shot is appropriate, but I can assure you it will not be the first thing they see until diversity within "ethnicity" and "Boomer" women are respected by the industry.

        P.S. It was great to meet so many of you at VOICE 2007. I felt truly at home. Bless you!

        Adrianne

        Posted by:
        • Adrianne Baughns
        • April 9, 2007 12:24 PM

          I am active as a VO producer for clients including Discovery Network and HGTV. I am also very involved with education for aspiring voice actors from coast to coast.

          As a service to our students, I recently interviewed the head of the commercial VO division of one of the largest talent agencies in the country. The agency has offices in LA and NYC.

          In the interview I asked him to comment on mistakes new voice actors make. He very directly stated that a photo on a demo is, in his opinion, a very bad idea.
          Voice acting is not visual. The visual aspects are imagined by the listener and every listener imagines who they hear differently.

          This is also true in casting. While everyone would "like" to say that they would "never" discriminate based on appearance, I've seen it happen in many pre-production meetings.

          Until this interview, I had always suggested that my students use their judgment when it comes to including a photo. Now however, we strongly recommend no photo.

          I think the question one should ask themselves is...
          Do I Sound Like I Look?

          Posted by:

            My coach says this is a "no" b/c it can typecast you. I don't have a pro headshot on my site... just my logo... which I tried to have personify my sound without typecasting me.

            However, I have run across agents who do want headshots. I do plan on having them done (in my spare time)... but I doubt I'll put it on my site... haven't decided yet. If I do, it might not be on the home page, but perhaps on my "About" page. And, I'll give to agents that require them.

            Good topic!

            Caryn

            Posted by:

              Mr. Bourgeois, thank you for your comments... hearing from your side of the fence really helps. I had posted comments on another entry about this very thing and I echo exactly what you and the agent have prescribed.

              You can see comments I made at this link:

              http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2007/04/voice_conference_chris_wagner.html#more

              Posted by:

                Great topic!

                As I see it, if your vocal "age & appearance" match your physical appearance, a headshot can be a great thing. But if they don't, you can paint yourself into a stereotyped corner - especially if you want to do a variety of work that calls for a wide vocal range of ages & types.

                A possibility for talents who also do a lot of photo shoots and/or on-camera work, is to promote their voice work separately - with a different resume, website, etc. - perhaps even going so far as to use a pseudonym.

                As for me, in order to be considered for a wider variety of characters, ages, etc., I prefer the anonymity that comes with not using a headshot.

                Brian

                Posted by:
                • Brian
                • April 9, 2007 3:49 PM

                  I KNEW before I even scrolled down having finished reading the post that this topic would start a lot of discussion...it made me laugh :)

                  Look, if someone does stage or on camera acting, they need a head shot. If they are a voice actor, they do NOT need a headshot.

                  The reasons posted FOR having a headshot don't ring true. A real voice agent doesn't care what you look like nor does a producer. Your face doesn't build the relationship... your performance and your customer service do.

                  Need a gut check? Well, have you always felt you had the perfect face for radio (like me?) You're right! Go spend the head shot money on a new mic or mixer...or both!

                  Best always,
                  Peter

                  Posted by:

                    Good topic!

                    I have a site FULL of headshots and photos. I do voice over work and on-camera work. However, I have been thinking long and hard for a while now about this subject.

                    Since I have decided to have my website redone by a professional, I do plan to have the photos removed. Even though I look like I sound naturally, I do a ton of character VO and don't want clients to know what I look like from an initial glimpse at my home page.

                    However, I do plan to have a link to another section of the site that is strictly for on-camera. There, I plan to have headshots and video.

                    If you work on camera or model - you have to have pictures. I've decided it is wise for me to have them more 'separate' in the future.

                    Posted by:

                      I view myself as an actor and a voice over artist. I view voice overs as a "subset" of my entire acting career, and another service I can offer to my clients. So I decided to put my acting headshot up on all of my websites, including this site, my personal website, and my IMDB listing. I suppose if I were to concentrate only on voice overs and not film, TV and commercial acting, I would probably not post my picture. It has served me very well so far, so I say "go with what got me here!"

                      Posted by:

                        Kara:

                        That is absolutely perfect; that's a smart way to do it. Be sure to monitor both the traffic and any input managers or clients give you once the sites and the links are up to see how THEY think it works (its really their opinion that matters most) but I think you're on the right track.

                        Best always,
                        Peter

                        Posted by:

                          My agents all have mentioned:

                          Unless you wish to procure work in Print, Film etc... it is not necessary at all! No need to do so...

                          Just make sure your vo demos, your work, and auditions sparkle!

                          Bob Worthington
                          http://bobworthington.voices.com
                          http://www.bobworthington.com
                          bob@bobworthington.com

                          Posted by:

                            People do business with people!

                            I think that people WANT to know who they're working with.

                            If you have a BAD photo, remove it... "Nothing" is better than a crappy photo.

                            Just my opinion!

                            Big John Small
                            GreatRadioSpots.com
                            GreatTVSpots.com

                            Posted by:

                              Hi Folks;

                              I chose to have a headshot because I believe, after many years in a different business... that a potential client can relate to a real person's image, and feel comfortable as a result.

                              My take on this: Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Post a photo; Then there's a human face attached to the voice.

                              My picture may scare some away; but it's me! Warts and all. People relate, and they know you aren't a synthesized entity.

                              And, aren't all Voice-over "talents" really acting, anyway?

                              Posted by:

                                I have read this blog with great interest.

                                I, too, have considered this question for many years with careful thought.

                                Do I have an opinion? Yes, and that opinion changes based on WHO the talent is and what that person DOES as an actor. There is NO ANSWER that fits everyone. It depends on YOUR CAREER and who you are and what you want and so much more!

                                Sorry can't be more helpful... just examine your own career goals and determine what you're making money doing now and what you want to make money with now and in the future and then, if a headshot is part of that, get a really good one and have multiple looks and get advice from a TOP PRO in the photography for showbiz field!

                                Be sure the photographer is a SHOWBIZ photo expert... not another kind of photographer... very important!!

                                And get advice from your agents too. They know the biz!!

                                Posted by:

                                  If you stand in front of people or a camera for a living, headshots are a no-brainer. If you only do VO and have no aspirations of being seen, put up one of your baby photos!!

                                  It doesn't matter, and if agencies aren't booking you for VO because of how you look, there is something wrong with THEM!

                                  You can look at mine if you want... I don't care... go ahead... click on my name...

                                  Posted by:

                                    As a voice-over casting director in Los Angeles, I have always recommended that voice actors NOT put their picture on their demo.

                                    As much as we'd like to assume that looks don't matter in voiceover, sometimes they do... it pre-casts you.

                                    And let me tell you, after casting v/o for over 20 years, the most successful folks in the business look nothing like you think they should, based on their voice.

                                    Leave your headshot for on-camera.

                                    The beauty of voiceover is that it doesn't matter what you look like, what you're wearing or if you just rolled out of bed (and trust me, I've seen everything coming to audition for me), what matters is what comes out of your mouth!

                                    Isn't that why you're in voiceovers anyway??

                                    Good Luck!

                                    Posted by:

                                      I say yes.

                                      Website viewers want to see and hear a real person. A simple headshot is slowly sinking into the stone-ages. The latest in website virtual technology puts you in front of your site visitor - walking and talking.

                                      Also, the way I understand it: before you get hired, someone wants to see who their money is going to. If I didn't have a headshot, my competitor might get the job instead.

                                      I also think that most hiring professionals are only interested in what you sound like.

                                      Are there people out there that will hire a Voice Talent based upon looks only?

                                      Would I want to work for them if they didn't like my personal appearance anyway???

                                      Posted by:
                                      • NoelG
                                      • April 13, 2007 1:36 PM

                                        I have a small black and white photo that I use.

                                        It's not pro, but I like it. I only use it on my Voices.com page. My voice is often cast for particular roles and I do a good bit of video gaming voices as well.

                                        I've actually had someone recognize my voice out in public and say, "Wow! You're her? But you aren't blonde!" That went a long way in showing me that people have a preconceived notion about what I look like based on my voice.

                                        I'll never do print or on-camera work so I'd rather let my voice create a picture of what my clients think I look like. :)

                                        Posted by:

                                          Posting a headshot shows openness and trust. It shows you are proud of who you are regardless of how you look. It shows you are ready for business.

                                          Sure, people may judge you by the way you look, but they will also wonder why you don't want to post a head shot. It's a double-edged sword, in my opinion. You make your own luck and a great deal of that has to do with attitude, not your appearance. If people like your voice and your work, then "the universe will provide" and word will get around.

                                          If the voices were equal, then I'd much rather work with a wonderful person who is a bit ugly than a stunningly gorgeous individual who is a complete jerk.

                                          My thoughts

                                          Posted by:

                                            In the early days of BBC radio, the announcers were expected to wear full evening dress when speaking on the radio.

                                            Oddly, I think a good portrait does actually add another dimension to a person. We see something in a face, and when we can make a connection that way, then why not?

                                            The BBC's reason, I can only imagine, was that it put the announcer in a more professional, formal frame of mind. Perhaps that's something a good headshot does, too.

                                            Having worked at the BBC, I know how much their professionalism adds to any performance, and I know for a fact that they go to great measures in the search for authenticity, and that means doing stuff that will very likely never even be seen or heard in the final piece. But the fact of the matter is that "God is in the details" even if the details may seem superfluous to requirements.

                                            At the end of the day, a photo doesn't hurt.

                                            Posted by:

                                              It's amazing how many times--particularly back in the days of radio--I was dead wrong about how those voices that came into our living room actually looked.

                                              Voices drummed up stereotypes in my mind that rarely agreed with what the person behind the voice actually looked like.

                                              So, I really don't think a photo of the voice maker offers any advantage to the image that the voice projects; other than it might be nice to put a face on the pear shaped tones (or maybe not so pear shaped).

                                              Posted by:
                                              • Richard Mullen
                                              • April 13, 2007 7:37 PM

                                                V.O. artist can certainly benefit from having head shots!

                                                I started out strictly as voice over talent and through a series of God given circumstances I am now, signed with a very reputable agent, getting commercial and TV work, heck I'm even a principal in an upcoming independent feature film.

                                                Yes, head shots are great!

                                                It certainly does help market your voice over business by supplying potential clients with a name to place with the voice, and if you choose to move into the acting sphere you must have them anyway.

                                                Actors come in all different shapes and sizes, and looks; casting directors are looking for various faces from job to job.

                                                You never know who you will meet in the entertainment industry, so I say, do yourself a favor and get out there and get some head shots. It has only helped my voice over career!

                                                Sincerely, Leo Fabian, Leo Fabian Voiceovers!

                                                Posted by:

                                                  Good headshots (done by a HEADSHOT SPECIALIST!) are a great way to promote - even if you don't do any on-camera work.

                                                  In Toronto it's just part of being taken seriously as an actor and voice actor. (I have not met anyone who is really successful in voice-over who is not also an on-camera actor. There are a few of them... Maybe 12 in Canada. But that's an awfully exclusive club.)

                                                  What do headshots cost... say, certainly less than a grand. Where else can you find "tools" that will last you for 2-5 years that cost less than a thousand dollars?

                                                  But again... Get them done by a specialist!!! Not by Aunt Millie or cousin Fred or the guy at the photo shop on the main street. Go to Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver (NYC, LA or Chicago in the US.)

                                                  Have your shooter take at LEAST 100 frames, too. That gives you lots to choose from. With headshots you want "the one." Not almost "the one."

                                                  Indeed I would personally recommend Pierre Gautreau in Toronto who does nothing but headshots. There are a handful of specialists like Pierre.

                                                  BTW - Even if you're not a member of ACTRA, you will find useful references on the Actra national and Actra Toronto websites about professional issues for performers. It is the only organization whose exclusive perview is the interests of performers. (Check SAG or AFTRA in the U.S.)

                                                  Posted by:

                                                    One other matter I forgot to mention in my last comment.

                                                    Due to the age, physiology questions that some believe could keep you from getting jobs because you might be stereotyped by your looks; just remember just because you have a head shot, it doesn't mean you have to post it, or show, but you'll have it if a potential, client or agent asks for one!

                                                    Ya'll take care,

                                                    Leo Fabian

                                                    Posted by:

                                                      Absolutely NOT!

                                                      It wasn't until years later that I learned Cheryl Ladd did the Josie and the cats cartoon.

                                                      My image of the cartoon character have been ruined if I learned it could have been done by Carol Channing!

                                                      Posted by:
                                                      • Maurice Tyson
                                                      • April 14, 2007 2:09 PM

                                                        I think the issue of whether or not a headshot is crucial for voice over work/jobs depends largely on what type of jobs you are seeking, how quickly you need to obtain jobs or connections, and how much money you are looking or needing to make while you network and connect with people in the industry.

                                                        My own personal experience was cultivated over time. As drama induced as it sounds, some voice over jobs actually really are not so much about being perfect for camera shots, unless you are looking to do commercials or are planning to be in the public eye, but are based more on how well you possess abilities to not skip a beat. I would say that you definitely have to be ON and be able know exactly what your client is looking for.

                                                        I have done a tremendous amount of voice over work for large corporations that see a tremendous benefit in having a well-seasoned female available to answer and direct customers and clients, as well as be able to soothe their feathers when need be. There is also a tremendous amount of requests for females to record company voicemail greetings, webinars, children's books, recorded training CD's, etc. There are countless requests for opportunities that do not require you to constantly interface with a camera. It is of an advantage if you possess the capability to dress up or dress down... switch gears if suddenly a client needs you to interact in the public eye or is looking to do promotional marketing as well as looking for a person with a pleasantly trained speaking voice, but these jobs typically pay a lot more money and you can plan on them being highly competitive.

                                                        The basic range is anywhere from $12.00 hr. to $750.00 hr. depending what is required and whether you belong to a union or agency. I also am extremely blessed to possess a soprano voice which has always given me an upper sharp edge with clients. I have always received wonderful compliments as they know my voice is genuine, not industry created. You can create a unique look and stage presence, but you either have a good voice or you don't.

                                                        Most individuals have to spend thousands of dollars on lessons and coaching to do voiceover work. Few females have soprano ranges similar to Mariah Carey or Celine Dion.

                                                        Posted by:
                                                        • Laura Bolton-Ehlis
                                                        • April 14, 2007 10:11 PM

                                                          In my case it is the shock that this guy is blessed and that he change his voice. To be able see him do it is amazing.

                                                          But hearing him switch from Bernie Mac to Chris Tucker, Eddie Murphy, and Donkey's voice is priceless....

                                                          Posted by:
                                                          • Kaliph
                                                          • April 16, 2007 3:19 PM

                                                            I'm strictly voiceovers. I've had my personal website up for about one year and only recently ( since about early March ) decided to post a picture and then only on my Voices.com website.

                                                            The arguments for posting a picture are convincing so I believe I'll soon post one on my personal site at voicingimages.com

                                                            My reasoning initially was pictures might encourage a misinterpretation of how I would perform voice work. Until now I've posted my logo instead.

                                                            When I get a good, professionally taken picture, I think I'll post it.

                                                            Posted by:

                                                              Absolutely NO "mug shot" for me. I don't want to create an image based on my looks. I want it based ONLY on the impression my "voice" gives. We are "voice actors" not actors of screen and stage. I use an image on my website, and marketing materials, that represents my "brand" which is a wheat field indicating the rich "Warm Americana" delivery I perform.

                                                              Posted by:

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