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Why Your Headshot Session Is Just Like a Meisner Exercise

So many actors have horrible headshots. Casting directors look at thousands of photo’s a week. Getting them to pause on yours takes a real understanding of how to manage your shoot. The biggest mistake you can make while getting your headshots is the same one made by any untrained actor, thinking any of it has something to do with you. It doesn’t. None of it does. Understanding that the other person is more important than you is a fundamental that any serious Meisner training program should instill in you. This needs to translate to your photo shoot.

meisner technique headshots michael cinquino 03

Meisner Technique Headshots – Michael Cinquino

Sandy Meisner knew that self-conscious actors are boring. In our heads is the last place we want to function from as artists. This applies both to what happens on stage or screen, and also your headshot session if you truly want outstanding photos.


If you are an actor with professional Meisner training, it will serve you well in your headshot sessions.

Michael CinquinoHeadshot Photographer, Actor

As someone that’s been through the Meisner training myself and have had the opportunity to professionally photograph hundreds of actors, I can tell you that what you are taught in any first rate Meisner training program will serve you well in your headshot session. You just have to know how it translates.

Apply Meisner Training To Your Headshot Sessions

The Meisner technique fundamentally grounds the actor’s ability to put their placement of concentration where it needs to be, either on what you are doing or on the other person. These serve as anchors to keep you out of your head and help you live spontaneously from unanticipated moment to unanticipated moment. The great thing about your partner is that they give back to you. You are always working off them. Add a circumstance, a point of view about your partner, an objective and you’re off to the races. But what happens when you get that camera pointed at you during a headshot session?

What I see happen 90% of the time, is that actors gets self-conscious during their photo shoot. Their attention goes inward. Self-consciousness and insecurity become very easy saboteurs. What you must understand is that your acting partner is now the camera, and it doesn’t give back. So what do you do?

Meisner Technique and Headshots - Michael Cinquino

Meisner Technique and Headshots – Michael Cinquino

You create a relationship with the camera in the same way Meisner training teaches you to craft with a script. You simply need to focus on how you want to make that person feel. Inspired, sexy, safe, intimidated, etc. There’s no limit to this. Remember acting isn’t about words it’s about behavior. There’s always something you want, and you use your behavior to get it. When you get specific about how you want to make the camera feel, and really work to achieve it, the results are stunning. When you approach photo shoot this way, then ultimately, whoever looks at your photo is going to feel something. And when an agent, manager, casting director, etc. stop at your headshot, they will be moved and interested in you. Moved to do what? To make sure you wind up in that audition room.

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