"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to Use Actors Access Effectively Part 4

Let's Talk About Cropping!

(Did you read my How to Use Actors Access Effectively Parts 1-3? You should!)

It's kinda funny how taking random classes like Yearbook in Junior High help your acting career. For reals.

I learned how to crop photos when I was 12. Did I have any idea when I went from Yearbook to my Speech and Drama I class that the former would greatly help the latter? Nope! Weird, right?

So like I've mentioned, I sometimes help assist an indie casting director and I get to see what Actors Access looks like from the other side. And people, it is VERY different.

First off, here is the actual size of your headshot:

Now imagine your photo next to three others just like it, and with 13 rows above it and 12 rows below. Your photo at that size, is one of 100 on a page, with oh, maybe 10 pages for the casting director to go through. 

How does your photo compare to the 1,000 other actors all perfect for the same role as you? How do you get the casting director to click on your photo to bring you in to audition?

It's all about 

I'm telling you, you would be surprised how many actors don't know what a headshot is, and how they don't know how to crop the photo so casting can see your face. Why didn't y'all take Yearbook?!

Okay, seriously, now. 

This is not a headshot:

It's a selfie. Yes. We can tell.

 This is also NOT a headshot. It's a modeling shot.

 And you would be surprised how many actresses are submitting photos of themselves where their face takes up 1/20th of the photo. Guess what. We can't see what you look like. Stop doing that. You immediately get tossed into the Green/Newbie/Not-a-Real-Actress pile.

So here. Let's use this unretouched photo (I'm not too vain to use it, but I'm vain enough to admit I'm much prettier in Photoshop!) as an example. And remember, an unretouched photo should NEVER see the light of day at Breakdowns/Actors Access.

This photo was taken by the lovely Tanya Giang. (Did you know she knocks off $50 if you tell her I referred you?) It is already perfectly cropped for an 8x10 photo. However, we don't get that luxury on Breakdowns. We get a tiny square that's about 2 inches by 2.25 inches. Not a lot.

So let's crop it. Your first instinct might be to get your whole head in there, like this:

This is actually a badly cropped photo. We can't see the neck, and there's too much head (that's what he never said) and even though I have some amazing hair, showing it like this makes me look short and off balance. Go to your AA profile and see if you have a photo like this. You might. I'll tell you how to fix it.

You might also want to crop your photo very tightly, which is also, unfortunately, not a good look:

I know I'm beautiful, but the truth of the matter is that casting CANNOT HANDLE THIS MUCH EXQUISITE BEAUTY ALL AT ONCE. And because we don't see my neck, casting could believe I'm much heavier than I really am. My Exquisite Beauty in Close Up is Backfiring! Gack!

And now we have this photo. You can see my face, my neck, and you get a good idea of what I look like. However, this cropping is only okay, and the reason why is because my face still only takes up half the photo. This wouldn't be so bad, but I'm probably sandwiched between two other actresses who cropped themselves in just a smidge tighter and you can see their faces better.

The ideal crop is one where your face takes up about 2/3rd of the photo and we can see your neck and shoulders, and your top hairline is cropped out.

It makes you look normal, and we can see everything we need to see.

The following two cropped photos are both slightly different, and in my opinion, the best of all of the ones I've shown you. Do you see what I mean about them?

 Oh my gosh, are you as sick at looking at my face as I am? Great! Go to your Actors Access profile and see if any of your photos are cropped in a way that could use some improvement.

Now, if your photos are the free ones, just delete them and upload them again.

If, however, the photos you want to crop have been paid for, go ahead and call
Breakdowns at 310-385-6920 and let them know you need to crop photos you've already paid for. They'll guide you through the process. And don't worry, I spoke to Romney there, but anyone can help you do that, and it will be free since you already paid for the photo.

I'm sure so many actors read this article and called Breakdowns so often that they completely redesigned the interface since I originally posted. (Yup. Totally taking credit for something that probably has nothing to do with me ;)
Now you can simply log in to your AA account and go to:
My Tools -->
Manage My Profile -->
Find your photo you want to recrop and hit 
Manage Photo-->
Edit Thumbnail photo

Now again, like any advice from an actress who isn't famous, take what you will with a grain of salt, but folks, I've seen the other side and I really think my cropped photos are better than most of the ones out there.

Lose the very top of your hair, get your face to take up 2/3 of the photo and let us see your neck and clavicle. These are basic rules and sometimes rules are made to be broken. But let this be a guide for you.

You might get more auditions by just cropping your photo a little bit differently. (Oh, and if Candace sent you here, tell her I say hi!)

Good luck!

AND! If you like this blog post, please share it via Twitter or Facebook and help spread the word to your fellow struggling actors.  :)


  1. Actors Access is the only website thinking they are smarter than everybody else.

    Good post here; that will help a lot of actors, as this question comes up quite often.

  2. Awesome post! Actors's sometimes really don't get how much a perfectly cropped photo can make all the difference!

  3. Also Acting in London:
    Great post series! (Here in London UK every serious actor is expected to be on spotlight.com , it's a longstanding system used by everyone in the business. But Actors Access has some great features Spotlight doesnt. I wish they'd learn...)

    A suggestion: If you have any advice about self-taping...

    And a question: Is there a way to make sure that random people can't google and find your Actors Access profile? I'm fine with industry people seeing it, but I dont want ex partners, nosy family members, co-workers at day job etc seeing exactly what I've been acting in. Thanks!

    1. Actors Access is a private, subscription based service that is not searchable. A person outside the industry can only view your profile if they have your profile link. If you have an acting website that IS searchable, and you linked to your AA profile, then yes, they would also be able to see it if they clicked on it.

  4. OMG... ::Laughed Out Loud::
    I had to stop reading your blog, momentarily, just to let you know you had me at "(that's what he never said)". Ok, done, must continue reading. :)

  5. Nice information.
    Great information , it is helpful for everyone .
    Thanks for sharing valuable information about Headshots.

  6. Just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!! I was lost getting started and would have never known how to look professional and be taken as seriously as I take myself as an actor. You are an angel for sharing this information in an industry with so much competition. I hope you book a thousand things for every person that books using your info. Ps. I totally have a thing for red heads too...you are ADORABLE!!! Blessings upon blessings upon blessings to you and your career, xo Animal

  7. Thanks for the very use article. I do have to disagree with one point, though. Not all photos need to be retouched. Not even yours.

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Kimberly!

      I still do think retouched photos make a huge difference. They brighten up the photo, can make the eyes pop, and get rid of blemishes, while also toning down the background, making a better photo. I think it makes the photo great without changing major aspects of what the subject looks like.

      Thanks for commenting!

  8. Sorry. That should have been USEFUL! Thanks!

  9. Hello Lira, my daughter moved to NYC over 4 years ago and bartends so much to pay rent she doesn't have time to do the on line casting applications. She attended Lees Strawsberg as a high school student and as an adult. She loves comedy and does a lot of improve. I live in Va and have all the time in the world so I am going to help her. I would love a consultation with you. Please help! Thanks

    1. Hi Antoinette, I need you to EMAIL me. At the top of the blog, you'll find the Personalized New Actor Consultation tab. Click there for more info. Thanks!


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