OnLine Casting: Thumbnails

Over the last few years online casting has grown by leaps and bounds. There are now a number of services like L.A. Casting, Now Casting, and Actors Access that are used by casting directors to receive submissions everyday.  On any given role, a casting office sees hundreds of submissions, usually appearing on a page with about 20 to 25 other thumbnail images.  You need a thumbnail that will stand out from that crowd of tiny pictures.  That’s why it’s important that you have your images properly prepped for the online casting websites.

What looks like a great headshot as an 8×10 print may not stand out on the screen as a small thumbnail. These thumbnails are usually an inch by an inch and a half in size.  Believe it or not, even at that size, there are changes that can be made to your image that will make a big difference.  Sure, you can upload the file the photographer gave you, but it hasn’t been optimized for viewing.  Images straight from the camera can be flat and lack depth.  However, with proper attention given to the color scheme, sharpness and contrast, your image can have vibrancy and life.

Here is an example of a file from the camera.


As you can see, a nice headshot but a little dull.  She bleeds into her surrounds a bit.

The image needs some color correction and retouching.

Voila!  Here it is prepped for a print. One could absolutely use this image for one of the casting sites, but again on a screen full of images does this really stand out and grab your attention? I suggest you take this same image and crop it for your online use.  Cropping the image can help to focus a shot by drawing more attention to your eyes or by getting rid of distracting items around your face.  Remember, the thumbnail is only about an inch by an inch and a half, so typically you will want to eliminate extra space and make sure you fill the frame with your head and shoulders.

Here’s what it looks like cropped. Definitely a huge improvement and a lot more effective for online use.   Take the time to look at your 8×10 headshot and decide if it needs some simple cropping to make it more successful as a thumbnail.

Be sure to have a professional photo lab help you with these adjustments.  Overdoing any of these can be just as detrimental as not doing it at all.  In addition to optimizing your images, the photo lab will be able to resize them to the specifications of the different online casting sites.

Whether it is color correction, cropping, or even retouching, small changes can give you the extra edge you need to get noticed and help your little thumbnail make a big impression.

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As actors you have one opportunity to make a first impression. It is a lot like online dating. If you send out a picture that is great but doesn't look like you, your date (casting) is gonna be disappointed. You won't get a second chance. But if you are able to capture your personality and the strongest aspects of your talents in that one frame, you'll find that there are a lot of people out there looking for someone just like you. SO, this blog is dedicated to getting you more dates, or rather auditions. We leave your actual dating life up to you. With over 30 years of experience in the photography and headshot business, I will keep you posted on the business of acting with an emphasis on photos.

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