Getting Your Headshots Printed

You’ve selected your headshot or headshots and now it’s time to print!  Even though much of the casting process for actors and models has turned to digital, still many casting directors, modeling agencies, talent agents, and filmmakers would prefer to have a hardcopy of your headshot.  They may file your headshot, or pass it around at a pre-production casting meeting, or perhaps, they want to put your headshot up on the wall.  Sometimes, it’s easier to have a printed headshot to place next to other potential cast members in order to see how the whole cast might look together.

Additionally, when you go to your auditions and go-sees, it’s almost always requested to bring a hardcopy of your headshot and resume, and sometimes comp card if you have it.  Nowadays, model comp cards are phasing out, however, if you’re an actor or model who has a lot of different looks, or if you’re a background actor (character actor) who has various uniforms and characters to show, it can be beneficial to have a comp card designed and printed for your own self-promotional use.

Both printed actor headshots and model comp cards have the benefit of being able to be sent in the mail to agencies and casting directors.  Since the onslaught of the digital era, it’s almost nostalgic and nice to receive correspondence in the mail which is not retail sales flyers or bills!  So, it might even help you stand out in the crowd to send a proper “old school” mailing.

Now, when it comes to printing your headshots (or comp cards), you’ll want to consider three things: cost, quality, and time.

Let’s start with time.  Do you have any pressing deadlines where you need your headshots in hand as soon as possible??  If you have upcoming auditions or requests for your headshots immediately, then you might want to consider a headshot printer local to you, so that you can go in person to pick up your prints and not worry about, nor pay for the cost of expedited shipping.

If you don’t have any pressing needs for your headshots, then it’s most likely more cost efficient to order your prints online at the best headshot printer you find.

Quality in headshot printing is very important.  Every printer uses different printing equipment, inks, and photo paper or card stock.  There are matte and glossy options. Also, the skill of the staff at the printing company is important!  Do they retouch your headshot for you (for free or with cost), and if so, is their retouching service any good??  Will the prints be flimsy or firm, will the colors be bright or dull, and boy, I hope the colors match your digital file as much as possible!

The only way to test the quality prior to ordering your headshots would be to request samples from each headshot printer you are considering.  Even then, this is only a sample of their paper & printing, but will not show you how YOUR headshots will look.  Most printers offer proofs, either digital or printed, which is a test print of your headshot run, and most often at an additional cost.

If you are concerned with the quality of your prints, the best idea would be to pay for the hardcopy proof, in order to be sure it’s what you want.  On the upside, most headshot printers offer lower service fees for reprints of the same photo, so ultimately, it’s more important to make sure the first run is exactly what you want so that you can easily place reorders when you run out.

Another way would be simply to order a small run of only 10 headshots or 25 headshots printed.  You could avoid the hard proof service fee, but benefit from the re-ordering lower fees, without having to pay the one-time set up again too!  (did you follow all of that??)

Ok, let’s break it down to cost factor here…

So –

  • You’ll most likely save more money if you can order online and get free shipping vs rushed.
  • Most headshot printers will have a one-time set-up charge per headshot photo, which will be waived for reprints.
  • You’ll receive quantity discounts by ordering bulk headshots vs small runs
  • Some printing places will offer free retouching with your order, but do you want their retouching??
  • If you can wait, you can probably get free shipping!

Another consideration for which printing place to print your headshots might be whether they also offer comp cards and/or portfolio prints, or photo business cards, which is a cool marketing tool for actors and models. Photo business cards are great because they’re portable, low cost, and have plenty of space (front and back, if you’d like) to include your pertinent info including your website address, social media links, stats, and obviously your contact information.  It’s much easier for someone to remember who you are if your photo is on your business card!

To close, a headshot is the primary tool used to book paid work in the entertainment industry, whether you’re an actor, model, dancer, comedian, or any other type of performer for stage or screen.  Sometimes the first impression is all you get and a great headshot can get you a call, so if you have a great headshot, don’t cheat yourself by having poorly produced reproductions!  Do your research and find the best quality within your budget, review samples and reviews from past customers, and if you’re not happy with the results… get your money back!  : )

Best of luck in your headshot printers hunt!