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Costume Advice for Actors' Portraits



At least until an actor reaches the point where their name (or their agents) precedes them, they will frequently come up against one of the industry's great occupational hazards; the person who bases their casting decision largely upon appearance. If you don't have an portrait in business attire, they won't be convinced you can play anyone who works in an office. Genuinely, this does happen, and often. While such a description does not concern all, or necessarily even a majority of those making the decisions, it is applicable often enough to that most actors would do well to prepare in advance.

Whilst expression and image quality are by far the most important concerns, I always advise my clients to consider clothing in terms of the characters they might resemble wearing them. To use the broadest possible examples (but don't take me too literally, and please add your own), hoodies might be good for Shameless type programs, vintage dresses might be good for period castings, a business suit might be good for playing a lawyer and so on.

That aside, I would never go so far as to suggest you produce stereotypical 'mumsy', 'heroic', 'chav' or other faces associated with character types; the strain to do so always shows, and I have easier and more productive ways to help you engage with the camera. Rest assured if you believe strongly in finding that 'one' standout shot in every session; so do I, and there's nothing to stop you being yourself under what you are wearing.

Don't be afraid to take chances with costume and character types. There is time during a session to try many varieties, and no harm is done if one doesn't work; there are always others that will. Maybe there are avenues for castings that you have never explored, so feel free to be imaginative. 

Finally, consider the following as further means of expanding your casting type range:  

* Bringing a pair of glasses or two.  

* If you're an actor, growing that beard, and long if you can! Then shave it off part of the way through.

* Smart shirt and tie regardless of whether you are male or female.

* Evening dress that you could imagine wearing in a 'restaurant date' scene.

* Hoodies work for every age.

* If you're an actress, bringing some hair clips, or whatever else can be used in that respect.  Putting your hair back, for example, can go a long way for period castings.  I'm sure you can think up a few more of your own

* Also don't forget this is the post Game of Thrones era.  Got a shawl, old scarf or anything similar?  Bring that.  

These only need apply for a short period, but often your agent will greatly appreciate the options.

I hope this helps in some way.