Why Voice Actors Need Headshots in Today’s Marketplace
Do you have a professional headshot, and is your voice working in concert with your image?
Read on to gain a new appreciation for how your visual brand can complement your voice over work thanks to insight (and practical tips!) from Jessica Myhr of 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 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 transform art into product. She now uses the skills she’s developed to help individuals from a variety of disciplines to discover their own inherent style, including professional voice actors.
Finding Your Style
What does your voice sound like? How do people feel when they hear it?
These are just a couple of questions you’ll want to ask yourself when determining your style.
Now, what if your vocal style could be expanded 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 consider replicating those choices in your own wardrobe.
“The best part about style inspiration is that it is free,” Myhr says. “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 resources where you can see what other people are wearing. Here are four steps that Jessica assures will help you assemble your book and discover your personal style:
- Go to Pinterest or Instagram and search for clothing and accessories you like.
- Jot down what you are really drawn to style-wise (based on color, shape, and texture).
- 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.
- Find your style icons: people who speak to you whose image you want to emulate.
Myhr is sure to remind us that what we wear is completely within our control. “You choose every day,” she explains. “So, what do you want to say? A great outfit tells someone about that person from the inside out.”
But I work in voice over… do I really need a headshot?
A commonly held belief is that photographs can actually become a hindrance to voice actors because their physiques (outward appearance) and vocal talents are completely separate from one another.
For example, a talent may have a large, booming, and muscular voice perfect for voice-overs related to sports, but they may not have the physical appearance to match.
Is it better to remain visually anonymous, or should there be at least something visual, whether it be a head shot or a logo created specifically to reflect the vocal talents of a professional voice actor?
Did you know that every professional using social networks needs a headshot?
While sporting a good headshot is a necessity in today’s age, many voice actors continue to question whether or not their look should matter, because people are simply hearing their voices. While that may hold true so far as audio files for auditions go, it certainly isn’t the case when you’re being sought out via search channels, or in directories of talent where headshots are par for the course.
Still not convinced?
Guidelines for a Great Headshot
A great headshot…
- Looks like you on your best day
- Captures a fully realized, alive moment
- Tells us something about you and how to cast you
- Makes us want to know more about you
Myhr asserts that being your best self and having an image that communicates that will help you book more roles. If you have multiple images, you ought to maintain some degree of consistency to unify your visual style.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to boast a professionally photographed headshot in order to give off a professional image. In this handy guide to do-it-yourself headshots, it’s explained that a professional-looking headshot can be achieved using your own smartphone—but must exclude “selfies, vacation snaps, or wedding pics.”
How Style Plays Into Voice Casting
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 the way they interpret a script plays a greater role in casting voice talent than anything else.
Looks matter just as much for on-camera talent as sound does for voice actors.
In the same vein that a casting director can tell if an actor is suited for a role based on their headshot, the way you sound to a trained ear will be evident in just the first few seconds of a recording’s playback.
What are people listening for to determine the ‘how’ of your sound? Your voice type and voice age will probably be obvious from the get-go, followed by the general attitude underscoring what you’re saying.
According to Myhr, as personal as your image likely is to you, casting decisions are not personal. You are being cast based on a picture and the hope that you will solve the casting director’s 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 akin to delivering a casting director a salad for lunch when they ordered a pizza.
The Age-Old Question: Logo or Headshot?
You might be on the fence with this one, so let’s take a closer look at the whole logo vs. headshot quandary. Voice actors pride themselves on being chameleons of sorts, with the ability to sound differently for any given role, whether because of the sound of their voice age, vocal range, accent, or otherwise.
Once a client forms a mental picture of you after listening to your voice, will a picture ruin that? When is it appropriate to use a logo as opposed to a headshot?
If you haven’t been using an image, why not try it? Even if it’s only for a couple of months. Take a cue from the sort of images that work on LinkedIn.
“The photo should look like you,” Myhr shares. “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, 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 profile, use an image that best reflects your niche so that you can attract more of that kind of work.”
Jessica’s Headshot Tips
- 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 performing animated voices, an animated profile picture might be a fun way to demonstrate this
- Regardless of the image you choose, make sure that it is an image that can be connected 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? Let us know in the comments!
If you want to learn more, this brief video serves as a great intro to Jessica Myhr of Inherent Style.