Thanks to social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, having an image that represents you online has become commonplace.

Do you have a professional headshot and is your voice working with your image?
Gain a new appreciation for how your voice works with your visual brand thanks to insight (and practical tips!) from Jessica Myhr of Inherent Style.

Inherent Style

Everyone has style. The question is, do you know yours, and, is it consistent with how you want to be known?

Jessica Myhr of Inherent Style believes that branding has to do with your integrity and authenticity as an artist. Myhr began her career in the advertising and licensing world where she learned how to translate art into product. She now uses those same gifts helping people to discover their own inherent style, including voice-over artists.

Finding Your Style

What does your voice sound like? How do people feel when they hear it?

Those are just a couple questions you’ll want to ask yourself when determining your style.

Now, what if your vocal style could expand to include a visual component?

One practical way to form your visual style is to explore the world of fashion, identify pieces that you like and then consider replicating those choices in your own wardrobe.
Jessica says, “The best part about style inspiration is that it is free. One of the things I have my clients do is create a stylebook. One of my VO clients put together a visual book about what her voice sounded like. She had a clear, sparkly voice. She loved this blue color and it was like water. We created a look in her headshot session that embodied those things.”

Creating Your Own Style Book

Pinterest and Instagram are excellent sources for seeing what other people are wearing. Here are four steps Jessica shared that will help you assemble your book and discover your personal style.

  1. Go to Pinterest or Instagram and search for clothing and accessories you like
  2. Jot down what you are really drawn to style wise (color, shape, texture)
  3. When you notice someone’s style you admire, see if there is anything they’re doing that you can recreate out of your own wardrobe
  4. Find your style icons- people who speak to you whose image you want to emulate

Jessica reminds us that what we wear is completely within our control. She states, “You choose every day. So, what do you want to say? A great outfit tells someone about that person from the inside out.”

But I’m in Voice Over… Do I Really Need a Headshot?

Did you know that every professional using social networks needs a headshot?
Many voice actors continue to question whether or not their look should matter because people are just hearing their voices. While that may hold true so far as MP3 files go for auditions, it certainly isn’t the case when being found via search or in directories of talent where headshots are par for the course.

Still not convinced?

4 Guidelines for a Great Headshot

A headshot:

  1. Looks like you on your best day
  2. Captures a fully realized, alive moment
  3. Tells us something about you and how to cast you
  4. Makes us want to know more about you

Jessica recognizes that being your best self and having an image that communicates that will help you to book more roles. If you have multiple images, maintain some degree of consistency to unify your visual style.

How Style Plays into Voice Casting

We’ve talked before about how casting is all about selection, not rejection. While image plays a greater role in casting for on-camera actors, remember that the sound of an actor’s voice and how they interpret a script plays a greater role in casting voice talent than anything else.

Look matters just as much for on-camera talent as sound does for voice actors.
Just like a casting director can tell from an actor’s headshot if they’re right for the role, how you sound will be evident in the first few seconds to a trained ear.

What are people listening for to determine the “how” of your sound? Your voice type and voice age will be obvious followed by the general attitude behind what you’re saying.

According to Jessica, as personal as your image is to you, it is not personal to casting. They are casting you based on a picture and hoping you will solve their problem. Actors don’t lead with their training, but their image. If they call you in for a part and you don’t look like your picture, it’s as arbitrary as the casting person ordering pizza for lunch and instead the delivery guy brought them a salad.

The Age Old Question: Logo or Headshot?

You might be sitting on the fence with this one, so I thought we’d take a closer look at the whole logo versus a picture question. Voice artists pride themselves on being chameleons of sorts, being able to sound differently for a given role be it voice age, vocal range, accent or otherwise.

The general thinking is that if clients form a picture of you in their heads by listening to your voice, will a picture ruin that? When is it appropriate to use a logo versus a headshot?
Studies on LinkedIn say that people are not as interested in you if your profile doesn’t have an image.

If you haven’t been using an image, why not try it? Even if it is just for a couple months. So far as the kind of images go, take a cue from images that work on LinkedIn.

Jessica shared, “The photo should look like you – you’re interviewing for a job – you want to look confident, trustworthy, approachable. What would it hurt for a couple of months if you tried to use an image? You need to be selective about the images you choose. When you do a variety of things, there still needs to be some consistency. This should still feel like you, no matter what the image is trying to convey. Give someone a sense of you when they are looking through the database. On Voices.com, you only have one image that you can feature, but if you have your own website, use as many as you see fit. On your Voices.com profile, use an image that best reflects your niche so that you can attract more of that kind of work.”

Tips from Jessica

  • Artists often need more than one image to represent them
  • Have one leading image that you use consistently
  • If you can only use one, lead with the image that best represents your voice’s essence and the niche you book the most work in to attract more of the same
  • If you’re mostly doing animated voices, an animated profile pic might be a strong choice
  • Regardless of what image you choose, make sure that it is an image that we can connect with you

Do You Use a Headshot?

Why or why not? Also, if you have created a style book, did you find that this helped you?
Looking forward to your reply!

Stephanie

P.S. If this kind of image work interests you and you feel like you need more assistance in getting professional photos created or developing your personal brand email Jessica for more information about her services and virtual offerings.

Watch this short, 2-minute video to meet Jessica of Inherent Style and get a better appreciation for how she can help you.

8 COMMENTS

  1. The other side of the coin, of course is the reaction by clients to a head shot. I’m 76 but vocally I can cope with anything from 40s upwards. I.E. I send an audition for the voice of 50 y.o. [the new 40!], mostly clients will just be aware of the voice. But newcomers to the system could say, “Hey this guy looks too old for the job”. There are folk out there who do think like that. Your thoughts.
    Don

  2. Hmmm, you set me on a path of action. I do believe in a headshot, though like many voice colleagues, wonder if it may ‘typecast’ in some restrictive way. Looking at what I have put around for a couple of years, a casual freeze frame from a video, it looks alright I think… until I see it on a site directly alongside colleagues of similar age, professionally portrayed and ‘connecting’, as we all try to do at the mic. Mine’s too neutral now. It’s time for a pickup. Thanks for a very informative piece.

  3. This is a very timely piece for me. For the past couple of months, I’ve been giving thought to hiring a photographer to do some new shots of me. The current pics were from a session in 2011. Though I’ve changed very little since then, my agent tells me I need to update my images if I want to be considered for print model work. My profile with them is for VO, on-camera & print modeling. I’ve capitalized on the first two, but not the latter. As for VO specifically, a headshot in relation to an MP3 file as you’ve said may not be quite as critical. But yes, if folks are searching on LinkedIn, Google, etc, a headshot will be very beneficial. In my day job, I’m assigned the task of creating referral lists from LinkedIn. If I see a profile without a headshot, that person may not make the referral list. And as also noted in your piece, I use one shot in particular across the board for most of my online accounts. Continuity. Branding. I will contact Jessica to see what ideas she might have for me. Thanks for the suggestion, Stephanie.

  4. There is no way I’m going for the headshot stuff. I’m a Voice-Over Narrator not an on-camera actor. I sell my voice only. Including a headshot only complicates things. For instance your headshot may remind the voice buyer of negative thoughts regarding a relative or some other person in their life. No thank you, I don’t need anything negative added to the already highly competitive voice-over game. I say, let the voice buyer imagine what I look like!

  5. I totally agree with NOT having a head shot on your website if you are a voice actor!
    BP Smyth and Don McCorkindale hit it right in the nose.
    If you’re older but have the flexibility to sound almost any age the head shot can and will influence clients in a negative way.

  6. I also agree with Don, BP and Buddy. If potential clients are determined to choose me, or not choose me for a v/o, based on my appearance – do I really need that sort of client? It strikes me that if that’s their determining factor, they’re probably going to end up being a PITA. I’ll use a headshot only if it’s mandatory – and if so, it may not even be mine…

  7. It’s really too bad that voice actors need a headshot, because “you want to look confident, trustworthy, approachable”, and because, apparently, the image has to represent what the voice actor sounds like. I’m physically unattractive, which is one of the reasons that voice acting appealed so much to me. My voice is beautiful; my face is not. What’s worse, because of asymmetry, I look like I have cognitive problems. (I assure you I do not.)
    I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m writing this to get the message out: some of us do not have headshots simply because we do not want to be at a disadvantage career-wise for the things that stand in our way socially. I would ask that you please keep this in mind if you are tempted to reject a voice actor for lack of a head shot.

  8. The exceptionally competitive world of VO’s is forcing me to look in other directions that suit my own style. Yes I have a couple of head shots, am about to launch my own site. Going as independent as I can. I feel like I am being stereotyped into styles that are not me. The whole idea behind audio is it stirs the imagination, and a head shot is debatable in terms of effectiveness. If anything I would think not having a head shot adds to the mystique of the character behind the voice. I don’t look anything like my voice. As far as integrity is concerned, do what you need to do. Be HONEST, EARN your client’s respect. If they want a photo, send them a real one that’s current. pretty simple.

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