Actor Headshots: Everything You Should Know

Actor Headshots

Actor Headshots

Actor Headshots: Everything You Need to Know

Actor headshots, also known as actor portraits or actor photos, are still actors used in casting.

It's important to remember that while we're talking about the same thing (actor headshots), not all of them will look like mug shots taken by police. Because of this, it can be difficult for an actor to know what their headshot should look like.

You want the image to feel professional and polished for a good actor headshot without looking too posed or stiff. You also don't want it to look so artsy that the person hiring you can't tell who you are.

Actor Headshots Summary

  • Actor headshots, also known as actor photos, are used in casting.
  • It's essential to take it seriously and look for suitable photographers.
  • A good actor headshot will have a file name like John Smith_Action Shot_B&W or Color _FULL-FACE.jpg to make it easy for an agent to organize when sending them out.
  • An actor will need between 8-12 different images of themselves, and they should always be taken prepared, on time, and with a photographer you trust.

Tips on How to Get Started with Actor Headshots:

- When you sign with an agency, they will send you to a photographer. If you'd like, look for headshot photographers in your area and set up auditions with them ahead of time to see if they're the right fit for you. You can also try Google searches or Facebook ads for local photographers who specialize in actor headshots.

- Take it seriously. Find a photographer you trust and always show up on time. Be prepared with suitable materials, including at least three outfits that advertise your different looks. If you have more, bring them! You want to give your photographer as many options as possible so they can get the best shot of you.

- Headshots don't need to be expensive. You can get an excellent shot for $50-$100, depending on the photographer and the area you live in.

- On set, pay attention to your environment! If you're shooting headshots outside, make sure it's not super windy or bright out (it'll blow out the camera, making it difficult for your photographer to get a good shot). If you have the option, shoot headshots against a green screen to be superimposed over any background.

- An actor will often need between 8-12 different images of themselves. It's easy to keep them all straight if you ask your photographer for headshot file naming help! A good actor headshot will have a name like:

-John Smith_Action Shot_B&W or Color _FULL-FACE.jpg

This way, you can remember all the different shots, and it's easy for your agent to organize them when they are sent out to casting directors!

Actor Headshots are an essential part of the actor's image and should be taken seriously. If you always take headshots prepared, on time, and with a photographer you trust, it will help you get the best shots to represent your unique look!

How often should actors update their headshots?

Depending on how often they're working, an actor might need to update their headshots every year or so. If you have a callback for a part that's been cast recently, that's a good time to take new actor headshots as well. You'll also want to update your actor headshots before going out on an audition for a project that's been cast recently. When between projects, a great strategy is to wait a couple of months and update your headshots when you're in a 'transitional' zone. This gives you time to get other photos ready while also ensuring that the industry has received any important casting announcements from your agent or manager before seeing them!

Should actors retouch headshots?

No, actors should always avoid retouching in their actor headshots. It creates a disconnect between the actor and the agency or casting director reviewing their photos. Headshot retouches usually make it difficult for an agent to see who you are (if you're clean-shaven, don't show up with a beard; if you're blonde, don't highlight your brunette). It's more important to find the right photographer who can capture the essence of you than it is to perfect your headshot. Also, keep in mind that some photographers will charge more for actor headshots with retouches while others won't even do them.

How do I pick the right actor headshot?

A good headshot is like a first impression. It's how you're introduced to everyone else, so it's essential to choose your actor headshots carefully. Look at other actors' headshots to get ideas for lighting, composition, poses, outfits, etc... but stay true to yourself! You want someone to look at your photos and immediately think, "that's you!"

What are the best places to take actor headshots?

There are many great locations for taking actor headshots. It's often helpful to work with a photographer who can direct you toward areas that highlight your personality. If you're struggling, ask your agent or manager for recommendations! The best part about working with a photographer who knows the industry is that they'll know what type of backgrounds to recommend and where you can get the best headshots.

How should you pose for a headshot?

Pose for headshots in a way that is most reflective of your personality. If you're playing the part of a gunslinger, don't pull your gun out. Leave that to Johnny Depp! Find an activity or hobby and pose with it, just like you do in real life. Letting your personality shine through is always more important than looking like a model.

What should you wear for your headshots?  

It's important to look polished and professional in any actor headshot, but it's also important not to be too trendy or distracting. Timeless means that the shots will hold up under the scrutiny of industry professionals (casting directors, agents, etc.).

How do you take good actor headshots?

There are many ways to take good actor headshots, but the best way is to look at them as a combination of art and science. The science comes from knowing what looks good on camera (lighting, lens, etc.…), and the art comes from capturing your personality in each shot. It's helpful to have a good eye for both art and science when taking actor headshots.

What are some examples of great headshots?

Great headshots accurately capture an actors' 'good side' while showing their personality through various poses and looks. If you pay attention, you'll notice that the same things repeatedly work--a close-up shot of the eyes, a candid photo of the actor looking off-camera, etc.

Good luck with your headshot shoot!

If you have any questions about headshots, feel free to ask other actors or your headshot photographer for advice. It's always best to learn from others' experiences.

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