Comedian Head Shots: Why Are They So Fucking Bad?

Comedian Head Shots: Whay are they so fucking bad?

Comedians are the worst self-promoters.  As a comedian I can say even I am guilty of not doing super well on this.  It takes everything in my power to remember to update my own stuff after spending so much time updating the promo info for each of the events I produce regularly.  My biggest pet peeve as a promoter of comedy events, hands down, is comedian head shots.

High Resolution Head Shots

This is a 75 pixel wide image at 72 dpi blow up to 300 pixels wide. Notice how blurry it is. Not very good for a poster.

I don’t understand why this one is so goddamn perplexing.  I think anyone that has been on the internet for more than  a few months understands that if you take an image that is a thumbnail and try to blow it up it looks like total dog shit.  As an example, I have done so to the left.  Fucking terrible, right?  Yes. This is a 72 DPI (What size images are when posted on Facebook and other places, i.e. ‘web resolution).  They can only be made bigger to a small degree before2014_June18th_TinyHeadshot2 they start to look blurry or pixellated.  Now let’s look at this image again the correct size 75×72 at 72 DPI… WOW, looks a ton better doesn’t it?  So what does this have to do with your headshots you post on your web site?  EVERYTHING.

What Dimensions Should Your Head shots Be?

Your headshots should be large enough to use for a poster.  If you want to do an 8×10 headshot, then it would be at LEAST 150 DPI (Typically 300 DPI) which comes out to be 2400 pixels wide by 3000 pixels tall.  How the fuck do you tell if your image is that size?  Right click on the thing and look at the image properties.  It’s very simple.  I don’t want to hear another comic say “I am just not that good with tech stuff…”  GET GOOD AT TECH STUFF!!  You don’t have to be a whiz to understand digital images and how they work online and in print.  Another way to tell if the image is the right size?  If the image you are sending someone to print on a poster is 86KB, you are sending them a WEB image, not a PRINT image.  It should be a few MB at LEAST. Here is an example of a comedians headshot that gets it right.

Ryan Singer has it correct
Ryan Singer has the correct size shot on his web site

Why is this Headshot Good?

It is the correct size, click on the image of Ryan Singer to the right and it goes to the PRINT size image that he has on his website.  I can take the image to the right and make a printable poster that is high quality with no issue.

How Can I get High-Resolution Photos?

If you have had head shots taken by a photographer, even a not-totally-super professional one, they will have the raw files on their camera that by default are typically 240 DPI.  This means they are likely a few thousand pixels wide and a few thousand pixels tall.  Have them send you these so you can put them on your web site OR your Facebook page.

Headshot File Formats

Wait, it gets MORE complex?  Yes, it can, but not really.  Most people prefer PDF’s to print stuff out but a high resolution JPG is fine. Find out what the different is here.

How often should I update my Headshot?

Every year.  No shit.  If you are going back to a place to perform, you really should have a new headshot, that is, unless you look ex-fucking-actly the same.  I am so sick of getting headshots from older comics that are now 8 to 10 years older than they were in their headshot.  It’s misleading.  Hell, I made the mistake of not sending updated headshots to a booker once and it led to my headshot from two years prior (with short hair and a corporate look) being used on the poster when I look more like I do now, with facial hair and longer hair.  People wondered who this dude was that was impersonating the Matt Ward on the posters.  Keep it current people.  That’s all for now, next time we will talk about getting headshots done and some ideas that will help you have a variety of shots that can be used throughout print and online media.

What should I DO in my headshot?
Be you.  Just smile if you are capable of doing this and not looking like you are faking it.  If not, just a resting face works.  You DO NOT have to have a microphone in your hand in your head shot. In fact, fucking don’t do that.  Your head shot is never going to be just floating around with a group of people trying to figure out who you are.  It will be included on posters, promo and other stuff related to comedy shows. People will GET that you are a comedian.

I can’t afford head shots!
Yes you can. You can afford to drink just about every time you go perform. You can afford to put gas in your car to get to gigs. You can afford head shots. Moreover, you can typically get a photographer friend to shoot some for free.  If people find you funny, they will be glad to help you advance in your comedy career.


Written by:

Matt Ward is a comedian, comedy show producer and promoter, web designer, graphic designer, musician, father and occasional fisherman.

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