"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.  :)