Having access to your headshots, publicity photos, and demo reels at the blink of an eye is not only a good idea, it's simple to do. Whether you’re interviewing with a potential agent, meeting with a casting director, or getting feedback on your last photo shoot, you can use photo sharing sites designed for the general public as another marketing tool in your actor's toolkit. Here’s how to host and archive your headshots, publicity photos and reels online for free.
Your agent's favorite picks are already on Actors Access, the Casting Network, IMDB, and your website, of course, but it’s a good idea to back up the rest of those amazing shots and alternate cuts online. You paid for each and every one of those character looks, so make sure they’re saved somewhere besides that fragile CD the photographer originally gave you. They may not have made your agent’s top ten list at the time, but they may be useful to you later when you need a specific look, or are working on another project.
Photo sharing sites were designed to allow people to display and share photos via a 'cloud' as an alternative to emailing huge, cumbersome files that require large amounts of storage space and long upload and download times. Instead, Cousin Edward uploads all the adorable photos of baby Ellen to his online account, and invites friends and relatives to view them via a special link he sends in an email. The friends and relatives can now view the photos via the link, without ever having to download any of the photos to their own computer.
As an actor, you can use these photo sharing sites as a marketing tool to display your headshots, publicity photos, even demo reels, all in one place, while archiving them at the same time.
There are dozens of photo sharing sites out there, and I've listed my favorites below. Each provide different storage amounts at their basic level, but all make photos easy to upload, simple to organize, and provide permission settings you control. That means you can choose whether a specific photo or an entire album is public (anyone can see it), or private (only those with the correct link can see it). You can even choose whether the photos may be downloaded or not. Each site accepts photos and short videos (i.e., your demo reels!), as well as the option to upgrade, for a fee, for more storage space. For these purposes, a free account should be more than enough.
- Flickr.com 1TB If you have a free account with Yahoo, you’re halfway registered for this site already. This is a huge amount of storage space: 1024GB, to be exact. Each video you upload can be up to 1GB in size, but online playback is limited to three minutes. Your reels are one minute or less anyway, but if you want someone to watch your 20 minute short film, they will have to download it first.
- Photobucket.com 2GB This is more than enough storage space to upload all of your headshots and reels. Videos on this site must be 500 MB or less, and 10 minutes or less.
- Dropbox.com 2GB This traditional file sharing site was meant for sharing files too large to send via email (i.e., mp3s or Power Point presentations), but it offers a “smart” Photo folder, meaning it automatically recognizes which of your uploads are photos or videos. The smart folder creates a virtual catch-all for photos and videos, so you can easily access them all in one place. It will even create a slide show of the virtual contents. The videos can be up to 2GB each, and online playback is limited to 15 minutes.
- iCloud If you’re running OSX and have an iCloud account, you can share photos and videos via iPhoto. This storage miraculously doesn’t count against your free 5GB of iCloud space. Create an album of your headshots, select the ‘Share’ button at the bottom right, select iCloud, then 'add photostream.' A shared photo stream can hold a maximum of 5000 photos, and videos can be up to 5 minutes in length.
If you have a smart phone or tablet, these sites also provide free apps that are optimized for mobile display, making the viewing and uploading process even simpler. This means you are no longer forced to navigate your online casting profiles via that tiny browser on your mobile. The next time you have the opportunity to give an elevator pitch, you can showcase your headshots and demo reels in high quality with the click of a button.