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The Cinematic Headshot

The Cinematic Headshot - A landscape headshot, LA style

So what exactly is a cinematic headshot?

We have a long history in this country of the 10" x 8" cropped headshot. Essentially, that means your photo is cropped 10 inches on the sides and 8 inches along the top and bottom for a portrait.

This tradition has long been the industry standard in this country, however with the atlantic gap getting ever smaller, and cross casting with America more and more these days, we need to embrace that they have a slightly different way of shooting head shots in the USA, and its affecting the way we shoot here.

So what are the benefits of shooting landscape head shots instead of portrait orientation?

Generally these days, everything we see is in landscape orientation, our computers, the TV, billboards, yet we’ve always restricted ourselves to headshots orientated in portrait. With everything nowadays done digitally online, landscape orientation works so much better for screens, whether it be websites, mobiles or tablets.

The main benefit there can be from shooting landscape, is that you get a better idea of someone’s size and body shape with a slightly wider crop, and they can be a lot more suggestive about ambience and paint a scenario, which for TV & Film headshots can be a really strong selling point.

The extra width in the shots tends to give them a bit more space to breath, and they feel more atmospheric as a result, having that room either side (or negative space as its called) can allow for a great ambience that is not possible in a standard 10×8 crop.

You could argue that they leave the standard cropped headshot feeling claustrophobic and slightly too intense sometimes. But this begs the question, what is the purpose of an acting headshot?

If the purpose of a headshot is to just be a picture of your face, as a reference, for people to see you have eyes and ears, then why would a wider cropped photo matter? But if the purpose is to create a sense of character and convey a casting type, then I would say landscape orientation has a strong place in the casting process.

There is not a huge thirst for the cinematic headshot to be on every casting directors desk at the moment, but it’s changing slowly and I believe will only be a matter of time til it becomes an industry standard and widely accepted. Watch this space!

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