On Being Accepted: Part i, “The Unbearable Likeness of Image”

So you’ve sent your poems off, got a response, and hey presto! You’re being published/booked for a reading/accepted for a slam. And then comes the dreaded email…

“Hi Mx, can you fire on a headshot and bio when you get a chance? Thanks!”

Now, some of you may know all about headshots, and that’s great – but how many of you have one? And no, that selfie you took by the window is not going to work.

First, let’s find out what a headshot really isn’t: It’s not a selfie, it’s not done by your mate who’s into photos, it’s not frivolous, it’s not taken by your phone no matter how good you think it is at taking photos. A Headshot is an accurate representation of how you currently look. It’s designed primarily for the acting industry so that agents can picture you in a variety of roles, but it’s super useful for loads of places and f reasons. And one of those reasons, increasingly, is at festivals.

Poets now take up premium stage space at a field of festivals (Field? a tent a festivals? A disappointment of festivals??) and those poets need to have their faces plastered on posters and billboards and flyers and brochures. Not to mention the actual poetry festivals that are around.

Now, there’s nothing wrong, per se, with using a photo from the ’80s that you had you niece takes photo of on her phone and that you then sent in a word file to the festival organiser to use. Just like there’s nothing “wrong” with going hunting for pears. You can do it, but it leaves one asking questions. There’s also nothing wrong, per se, with using a file that is 6 kilo bytes big. Yes, that is your face, no the poster isn’t printed to the size of a stamp. There’s even nothing wrong with that shot of you by the window that you took on your phone! You’re right! You’re really really good at taking selfies. The problem is it looks like a selfie. Not a headshot. And even if you did take it on a plain background with would lights, it would still be too small for larger printing.

So when it comes to headshots, you’re best off getting it done right. Spend a few quid and get something that will last you a few years, give or take a radical haircut. Go to an actual photographer with an actual photo-making box. Get a few varieties, a nice plain background, make sure it’s big enough that someone could use it on a flyer or a billboard if they wanted to. Make sure it’s your actual face. Make sure it’s your actual face as it actually is now.

It might seem silly, even egotistic, but it’s professional. Be proud of your work. If someone asks for a headshot, send them a headshot, not a photo, but that unbearable likeness of image: the profile shot.


This post was written by Shane ‘Photo Baby” Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it then email us at stanzas.limerick@gmail.com


On Being Accepted: Part i, “The Unbearable Likeness of Image”

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