Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation
Dancers holding their resume photos in front of their faces while performing "I Hope I Get It" in a scene from the Broadway musical A Chorus Line. (New York) Photography by Martha Swope. The Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the

Head Shots: Performer Portraits from Daguerreotype to Digital

What is a “head shot”, and what would the performing arts be without it? As long as there has been photography, performers have used portraits to represent themselves for casting and promotion. The Library for the Performing Arts holds over 1,000,000 head shots in historical, modern, and digital formats. Unique archival collections from casting agencies, production offices, and publicists reveal the process of finding the right performer for each role. Visitors will see how images are posed, taken, and selected and understand how every step contributes to the very pragmatic aims of employment and publicity.

Learn how a performer selects outfits and poses, what casting directors see in a print or digital portrait, how souvenir programs for dance, theater, and music are edited, and how performers select prints to autograph. Discover how color, digital photography, and internet portals have radically changed the creation and distribution of head shots.


May 28th, 2015 - January 6th, 2016 New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center