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Ms. Bubbette

Dear Ms. Bubbette: Retouching Headshots - more • Local Headshot photographers
by Ms. Bubbette

January 2001

Dear Ms Bubbette,

How do casting directors feel about receiving headshots which have been retouched? Do they feel you might be trying to hide something? Is it a negative to have your headshots retouched? Also who would you say are the top 4 photographers
in Austin I live in San Antonio so I don't know any body there.

Charlie Alvarez

Dear Charlie,

The whole point of a headshot is to have something - a tool - that represents you truthfully. It must be reasonably up-to-date and not something shot years ago. It must be an exact portrait of you and how you look right now. It must be taken in good lighting and should be performed by a professional headshot photographer. Not by a model photographer and certainly not by a friend (unless that friend is a headshot photographer!) After all we don't get our friends to fix our teeth or perform an operation. We go to the professionals.

So now, to get to the point of your question, casting directors feel angry when you turn up and look nothing like your headshot. Some will write you off as not being professional. Most of them will feel betrayed because you have wasted their time and trust.

I have seen headshots taken in dim light so as to hide the age of the person. You know, fuzzy, no facial lines. Then this actor turns up making Methuselah look like a teenager. These end up in the waste basket. I have also seen a headshot that the actor touched up on the actual proof copy. The actor now looked like she had rigor mortis setting in on the lips and eyebrows crayoned in by a child! It ended up in the waste basket. (and so probably did the other 99 copies!) I once had one of my negatives 'touched up' to remove a sunburnt patch. Unfortunately the artist was over-zealous and removed all facial lines. It was a super glamor shot making me 10 years younger - not the real me. They ended up in the waste basket.

Now if you have a zit pop up on the day of your photos and it appears magnified a thousand times - by all means have an photographic artist remove that from your negative. (After all, you don't usually have that monster there.) Sandra Bullock spent $80,000 to have a pimple, which popped up in the final days of shooting "Miss Congeniality.", removed from the negative film. It does happen!

A good headshot photographer will get your personality to shine through. It's not so much what is on the outside, Charlie. It's the gleam in the eye, the secretive smile in the lips, the 'wow, I want to meet this person' look. Some of the top actors are downright homely (to put it nicely) but their charisma and talent take over and that's all we see.

There are many excellent headshot photographers around. Four names I would recommend in Austin:
David Korkan 306-0843:
Peter Gonzales 416-1566, 208-3698 - worked with the incredible Fabrizio who has returned to Italy:
Rhea Willis 349-2376 - also worked with Fabrizio:
David Neuse 474-8484

A superb headshot photographer comes into San Antonio every now and then from L.A.
Kelsey Edwards. You can book a sitting with Kelsey through Calliope Talent Agency (210) 804-1055

In Austin, for negative retouching: Ingrid Morton, Austin Quantity Photo, (512) 481-1911, Toll free: (888) 216-6144

Hope this answers your questions, Charlie. Good luck in this business.

Ms. Bubbette

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