Photos & Showreels FAQs

General Advice

PHOTOGRAPHY

Your main headshot

As a professional performer your main headshot is vitally important. It must represent who you are. It is your first selling point to get you that audition. If a casting professional is unaware of your work, it is the first thing they will see, and first impressions do count!

Watch this video to see what top casting directors look for in photos:

Copyright for photography

What is copyright?

  • Copyright is a law that gives the creator of a work (e.g. a photo, film, song, book etc) the right to say how other people can use it and any distribution. So even though you may be the subject of a photo you are not the copyright holder - the photographer is.
  • Always use the original file supplied by the photographer - don't upload a screen grab from a mobile device. You also should not edit (crop) or adjust photos taken by a professional photographer.
  • Images containing a copyright watermark or an embedded photographer credit will not be accepted.
  • For copyright reasons therefore the name of the photographer should always be credited in the space provided.
  • When uploading photographs you will see a drop down with the names of suggested photographers. You will not be able to upload an image without their name present. Don’t worry if you can’t see your photographer’s name on the list as you can just type it in. 

Top tips:

  • It must be ‘natural’ and an accurate representation of how you look
  • Keep your appearance as neutral as possible. Remember, a casting professional wants to see the 'real' you
  • It should be a recent head and shoulders shot
  • Remember, you will mostly be viewed by casting professionals in a grid format so make sure your photo is impactful and the best it can be
  • Blurry, pixelated or amateur photography will make you look unprofessional, deterring casting directors
  • Wear something simple and avoid props, hats, distracting backgrounds and accessories
  • Your eyes are your most important feature, so make sure they are as visible as possible

Think of your photograph as an investment in your career.

Your gallery

You can upload up to 15 gallery photos via the online system, but 4 or 5 excellent, well-chosen photos are much better. 

Top tips:

  • Be selective - only choose the best professional images. Poor quality images reflect badly
  • Think objectively - what does a particular photo say about you? Look at the context of the photo. Does it give a good impression? Is it appropriate for a professional casting platform?
  • If you are a young performer member is your image age appropriate?
  • Does your photo look like you do now? If you were a casting director would you know yourself from your picture when called for a meeting/audition?
  • You can and should show a diversity of looks - varied shots demonstrating different facial hair, hairstyles, etc - but make sure your main photo accurately represents you.
  • Don’t upload modelling or glamour shots. Think very carefully about what you are wearing and how this reflects on you, for instance don't post nude or semi-nude images
  • Don't upload holiday photos or screen grabbed photos from your phone or tablet
  • If included, production stills should be professional and kept to a minimum. Don't upload numerous photos of the same production, just one will do. The centre of attention should always be you not other performers - it should be clear who you are!
  • Photographs should not contain borders
  • Stills of you on set or with the crew, or on a red carpet, are likely to be seen as a 'vanity' shots. Be mindful how this looks to a casting professional. Pictures that portray your personality through facial expressions or your eyes are better than trying to show your personality by actions or costumes.
  • Spotlight does not publish images containing guns or other weapons unless in the context of a production still, nor do we include print advertorials/posters etc
  • If you are unsure whether to use a photo then don't!

We have more useful information about photos which also includes our podcast 'What makes for a good actor's photo?'

Technical specifications

You shouldn't need to worry about technical specifications too much but quality is important.

All professional photographers can supply you with an image suitable for displaying on a website.

Your photo must be

  • At least 500 pixels wide by 500 pixels tall (you’ll see a warning at upload if it’s not)
  • At least 1MB and no more than 40MB

Supplying photographs

If we ask you to resupply a photo for any reason you can send an image by email (as an attachment). Please do not embed an image in an email. Make sure you state your Spotlight name, a contact number where necessary and your photographer credit. We cannot take responsibility for unnamed photographs.

If you have a question, please contact [email protected] or call 020 7437 7631 during office hours only.

Your photographer

Choosing a photographer can be a difficult decision. Always make sure you confirm exactly what you will get as part of the shoot, i.e. how long the session will be for and how many images/prints will be supplied as part of the deal. Some insight into your first headshot session as an adult performer is available on our website, as well as for photo advice for young performers.

Make sure you do your research and become familiar with the work of the photographers you like. Contacts is a useful starting point.

How can I manage my photographs on Spotlight?

Once you are signed into your account, you or your agent can add, hide, remove or change the order of your images. Go to the ‘Manage Media’ area to do this.

You’ll be presented with relevant help and advice and a simple range of tools to manage your Spotlight photos. Note however that for copyright reasons you should not use these tools if your photograph has been taken by a professional photographer.

YOUR SHOWREEL/VOICE CLIP

What advice is there for me about my showreel?

We have a wealth of information about showreels that can help answer all your questions, from articles to videos and mini-podcasts. Take a look!

How can I manage my showreel or voice clips on Spotlight?

Once you are signed into your account you or your agent can make changes to your Spotlight showreel and voicereel. Go to the ‘Manage Media’ area where you will be able to add a five minute showreel and a five minute voicereel. 

I don’t know how to edit my showreel before I upload it, can Spotlight help?

Yes! Our professional showreel editing service is for performers who need to edit their video material together into a showreel for their Spotlight profile. Or, if you want to give it a go yourself watch our handy guide on how to make a showreel. 

Copyright and showreels/voice clips

If you are taking a clip from previous professional work, in most cases the producers of that work will either have rights assigned to them or at least, a licence to the rights. Producers normally grant permission for you to use short clips completely free of charge – but you must check with them first and get their permission in writing.

If you are recording a clip from scratch especially for your showreel/voice clips, remember that most 20th century scripts are still subject to copyright, and you should seek permission from the publisher.

Under Spotlight's terms you have the responsibility for clearing any material that you decide to use for your showreel or voice clip. If there is any sort of dispute, Spotlight will take your material offline until you clear the right to use the material.

Spotlight reserves the right not to broadcast any material which it deems inappropriate.