The simple answer to this question is whenever you look different! Hairstyle, facial hair, weight gain or loss, are all things which change the way we look and if you have changed dramatically from the way you look in your headshot then you need to think about getting a new one. I look at it like this, if I am called in for a casting and I can not ‘change’ myself to look like I do in my current headshot then I need to get a new one.
They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They should photograph me through linoleum
Casting directors really do expect to see the person they have seen on your photograph when they call you in. It only annoys them when they meet you and you look nothing like the person they were expecting to see from your photograph. You never want to p*ss a casting director off, a bad first impression can really damage your relationship with a casting director or a director, and if you look like you don’t take your career seriously, it is unlikely that you will be given a second chance with them. Make sure that the person in the headshot is a true representation of you today.
Agents who represent children expect them to change their headshots every six months, as kids change so dramatically from day to day. I am not saying you need to change your headshot so regularly, but keep checking in with your photograph and seeing if that really is how you look in the here and now. As we get older we begin to age quicker and so I would recommend more regular fresh headshots, remember that you are probably getting more cast-able with the old wrinkle or your thinning hair so don’t try and hide it, make it a feature, think of it as your USP.
They kept me in short pants as long as they could, until they were shaving the hair on my legs because it was beginning to photograph
It is not just changes in our appearance which should prompt a new headshot. All promotion eventually runs dry. Imagine if a company kept running the same commercial for years and years, the audience would get bored of it and ‘stop seeing it’. The same is true of you headshots, after a while casting directors have seen it and are bored of it. A new headshot makes an impact, but after casting directors have seen it dozens of times it will no longer stand out from the crowd. If you have not changed dramatically in appearance then a new headshot could just be a new choice from your last shoot. If you have taken our headshot advice then you will have worked with a good photographer who will have given you a reel with lots of great images to choose from, so you can rotate your main headshot and keep your promotion fresh.
Headshot trends change, just like in fashion, so keep up to date with the ‘look’ of modern photographers and make sure that your headshot doesn’t look dated and tired. Check out photographers website galleries, look at agents websites, browse through actors websites, perhaps you can get access to Spotlight or another acting directory and look through resumes to see who is working and what style of photograph they are using. Talk to a few photographers about what style they shoot in and if they are using a new style recently, if they have noticed a change. You will be able to tell which photographer has their finger on the pulse, and be able to get a headshot which fits with the current trend and therefore will brand you as a professional.
Whilst I am talking trends, remember that fashion changes and if you have worn something particularly fashionable in your headshot or styled your hair in a particular trendy way, this can very quickly date you and your photograph. If you don’t want to have to change your picture as often as the catwalks change their styles then keeping things simple and classic without being boring in your headshot will save you having to get a whole new set of pictures done every year.
The camera can photograph thought.
So, how often should I get a new headshot? My answer would be every 12 to 18 months I would change headshot, probably to using a new one from the original batch unless I have changed dramatically. Every 3 years I would definitely get a whole new set done. If you get new photographs I think it helps to refresh your attitude, refocus you on your casting niche, it inspires you and your creativity. Your headshots will get better because you will be more comfortable with who you are and what you are doing.
Casting directors will often notice new headshots and it subliminally triggers them to see it as progress being made on your career.