Size Matters! — Image size, that is.

by Kenji Maeda on November 13, 2008

Image: tinou bao

Originally published in the Vancouver Actor’s Guide May 2008 newsletter.

If you’re an actor; you’ve done it, you’re doing it, or you’ll do it. Online Self Submissions – sending out your resume and headshot via email to get an audition. It’s effective, efficient and sure saves us a lot of money to send a digital image rather than our hard copy headshots. Of course you should still take your hard copy headshot and resume to the audition… but what I’m going to talk about now is the online part.

You see an audition notice online – maybe on the VAG Audition Listing page or elsewhere. You see the breakdown or general requirements and you decide it’s something that you would like to submit yourself for. Great! You might have the headshots given to you on CD from the photographer or they were scanned professionally or with your own equipment. So you could send that image file as your submission, but don’t press that send button just yet… and here’s why…

The images that your photographer puts on to a CD would be a high quality image, thus a large file size. That is because the larger file size equals greater detail in the image – it’s what is needed when you or someone else is printing it out as an 8×10 head shot. The same generally goes with scanning an image – to get the highest quality you would scan at a high resolution so the printed image will look good.

Sending an image of such size for an online submission is not necessary, in fact some people consider it rude, unless it is specifically asked for. Having helped friends and talking to others who have done casting calls online, the main reason they want to see the headshot is to decide which role you might fit into or to decide whether or not you’re suitable for any of the roles. A smaller file / image size will allow them to see the image without having to scroll down or sideways to see the whole thing and won’t fill their inbox unnecessarily.  You’ll also save yourself the time of resending if the email bounces back.

Just imagine 50 people mailing (via the old fashion snail mail) you their picture the size of movie posters. Your mailbox would be overflowing, and you’d be frustrated.

So what should you do?

  • Keep it to the standard image formats, which are JPG/JPEG or GIF.
  • Keep the file size smaller than 100kb, more than likely you can get it to less than 50kb. Anything larger than that is too much and definitely any files that are 1000kb (1mb) or more should absolutely be refrained.
  • There are a number of software programs (free or paid), or even websites out there that can resize your images. You may already have one on your computer or some free software you got when you purchased your digital camera or scanner. Ask your friends or family for suggestions, search the web, and read reviews from people like you.

One such free online service I came across is called Essentially, it’s a free online application where you can go to resize, crop, and rotate (among some other options) your images. I tried it out with a couple image files, and it seems to work just fine. Take a look through their site, including their FAQ page, and you will likely get all or most of your questions answered. Their website is

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