Why Do All Actors Have A Brick Wall Headshot?

I only very rarely see human beings standing near walls. Yet actors, they stand by them all the time.

Not in their normal day to day lives, at least not as far as I’m aware. But as soon as they decide to get headshots, they immediately head for the nearest brick wall.

How does this happen? I can only imagine:

ACTOR: I want some headshots that really capture who I am.
PHOTOGRAPHER: You mean like you standing against a brick wall?
ACTOR: What?
PHOTOGRAPHER: A brick wall. Actors stand near brick walls.
ACTOR: Oh okay.

An actor once explained to me that it’s “to show I could be in a soap.”

So I watched a soap. No characters stood against walls. If anything, if you want to be in a soap, your headshots should be you outside a pub. Or slapping your husband. Or standing in a launderette. Why the brick thing?

“It’s to show I can do street, urban,” said a recent LAMDA graduate, who was born and raised in a mansion in Cheshire with her own stables and four horses.

It seems mind-boggling to me. To prove you are from the streets or that you can portray such a thing, is leaning casually against a wall really going to help you? Maybe casting directors would like to see you sitting down on a slab of pavement. Or perhaps a shot of you spitting on a bus stop. Are these not equally valid?

I wonder who did the first ever brick wall headshot, and how did it go down? Maybe it was Danny Dyer, and he immediately got cast as a gangster, making everyone swear by the method.

In searching ‘headshots brick wall’ on google, I see mostly women. Why? They seem to go for a plain headshot, against a white backdrop and then, for variety, they go to the nearest brick wall.

Some random examples from Google.

Some random examples from Google.

This rarely happens in other forms of photography. When footballers get their photograph taken at the beginning of each season, it tends to be on the pitch, or in a training field, not with them all leaning against shards of metal or wooden sheds. It would be too random, right?

Like if the photographer at school said ‘right kids, we’ll now have pictures of you leaning against the entrance to Tesco”.

It would make no sense. Like the brick wall headshot makes no sense.

In next week’s blog I will offer advice on what to do if a brick wall is not available. 

If you like this, would you mind sharing it?

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.