The Photographer

Ken Wood, Professional Los Angeles Photographer

My headshots are the most competitive in the business. I believes that every actor is unique and that the ideal headshot reveals the individuals strengths and qualities that only you possess. It is something in your eyes, in your body language, and ultimately in your soul.

You became an actor to express your creativity in a way that no other performer has before. I feel that the best way to express this in a headshot is to personalize the experience–you are a new challenge, a new creation, and your headshot is approached in the same way.

I started as an actor, so I understand the unique struggles an actor faces infusing art into the business side of performing.

We’ll discuss your career, review your current headshots, and explore the opportunity to invigorate both!

How I Got Started

I did some background acting work and was also fortunate enough to book a couple national commercials and some principal jobs, but realized I really enjoy the view behind the camera.

A good friend of mine is a line producer and he hired me to work as a production assistant on a reality show so that I could learn more about broadcast production. Since then, I’ve produced a couple shorts, a little seen feature film, and I produced a documentary about an up and coming comedian named Rosie Tran.

Having worked both sides, I understand what an actor needs. I want to take a photograph of you that captures you at your best. And if you’re a new actor just getting into this business, I’ll can tell you about some of the best ways to get an agent and meet casting directors. Tricks of the trade that I’ve learned from speaking to working actors.

If you have any questions feel free to give me a call or stop by my studio which is located a few miles from Downtown Los Angeles, in Silver Lake.

The Actor’s Headshot

A headshot isn’t a portrait – it’s an audition you mail to casting agents, directors, producers – whoever can give you a job. It has to show you in the best possible manner, it has to look like you (on a really good day, let’s say), and it has to get across some of the appealing aspects of your personality. It has to have something human about it.

People have to be able to look at it and sort of think they know something about you. And it also has to be striking enough that when it winds up on someone’s desk it makes them stop for a moment to consider it.

Shooting Women’s Headshots

I think a female headshot should present the image of a smart, confident, woman who wears no make-up and looks great in any sort of lighting.  And she’s sexy in a ‘I am not trying to be sexy’ sort of way.

A woman’s headshot has to show off and emphasize feminine features, and the particular aspects of the female face that make it beautiful in its own way. This means emphasizing eyes, or jawline, or hair, or in many cases body (hard to do with a headshot but possible), as well as bringing a sense of balance to facial features… big eyes are great but a headshot can look like a kitten poster if those eyes are hovering over a tiny mouth.

Shooting Men’s Headshots

Men’s headshots are probably easier to shoot then women’s, I suppose because men don’t carry around as much societal appearance baggage. When shooting a male headshot, I forget about make-up and even wrinkles (it is character, don’t you know) but I will retouch out bags under the eyes.

Men should look ‘manly.’ Lighting can be harder and more dramatic. I try to bring out cheekbones and the male facial structure, and shoot something that reflects what is handsome in a particular face.

Kids Headshots, Children and Young Actors

The younger the child, the harder it is to get them to sit still, so, generally I shoot fast and generously – I take a lot of pictures. Invariable I get a good one this way.

Younger kids also melt down more quickly than older kids – you might only get 10 or 20 minutes of shooting before they get unworkable, so speed and a sense of humor with children are the key.

Like teenagers, kids should look their age and not like stiff small adults. And in terms of casting, it is better for kids to look younger rather than older.

Headshots for Teens and Students

When you’re a teenager, your picture should look as young as you are or perhaps a little younger. A director will almost always cast an older person, say someone 25 or so, rather than a teenager, to play teen part if the 25 year old looks young. So, if you’re 16 going on 22 what are you thinking? NO ONE IS GOING TO CAST YOU AS SOMEONE OLDER THAN YOU ARE!

But you can get cast as someone younger. Stockard Channing played Rizzo, the pregnant teenager in Grease, when she was 34. Hillary Duff was about 17 when she began playing a MIDDLE SCHOOLER in Lizzie McGuire. So, ladies, avoid the make-up and boys, stay a boy.

Smile, watch that posture, don’t fuss too much with the hair.

Pimples… this can be a problem. Rather than try to fix this with make-up, I generally fix this with Photoshop. If you’ve bad acne scars, then we deal with that.

Your headshot has to look like you – if your headshot shows you with perfect skin, a casting agent isn’t going to be that happy when you walk in looking very different.

The same thing for braces – it’s best to show them when you have them rather than hide them in the picture and suprise the director with a mouthful of metal. Besides, sometimes a teen part calls for braces – they are a fact of life.

Dress in something comfortable and youthful, but avoid looking trendy. No t-shirts with writing on them. And while you might be into piercings, in movies and plays people with a lot of piercings usually get cast as workers in meth labs. So, unless you are going for those sorts of rolls specifically, pull out the nose ring or whatever hardware you might wear so you’ve a chance at getting a handsoap commercial or ‘Curly’ in ‘Oklahoma,’ and I’ll Photoshop out the little hole in your face.

Check out www.holdstillphotos.com to see more of my photography work.

Ken Wood


Commercial and theatrical headshots for actors and 
portrait photography for corporate professionals.
Call 323 674 9933 to set up your headshot appointment