14 Actor Headshot Tips: Look Fab, Get Work

You need a good look so you’ve come to the right place to find practical actor headshot tips. Before you can book auditions, land roles, and expand your acting career in the entertainment business, you need a headshot.

A good headshot is the key to getting more acting auditions and ultimately acting job offers.It is what casting directors look at first. It’s your visual resume. When viewing your resume or viewing online casting they get to glance at you. A bad actor headshot, and you’ve probably have seen one or two of them, will make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Make an Impression with Your Actor Headshot

The pressure is high when it comes to choosing the right photo for your actor resume and as a marketing tool for your acting career. We know that finding the right actor headshot photographer can be intimidating. We hope the acting headshot tips will help you feel in control of this process.

It’s critical that you find someone who understands your personal brand, target role, and audience so they can capture you in the light that will help achieve those goals. Be aware of other headshots and consider how you want to be represented.

Why do you Want a Picture of Yourself?

Unless you have a friend in the casting department, your next chance to show your talent is an online application or profile. You need a photo that stands out and shows exactly who you are as an actor. The problem? You don’t know what makes a great headshot and won’t know till after you take it. So how do you find the perfect headshot? 

In this blog post we’ll explore 14 tips to get that perfect headshot for your acting resume. From knowing what to avoid when searching online to insider tips from professional photographers, here are some helpful suggestions before hitting upload on that profile pic.

Your actor headshot needs to showcase you.

14 Actor Headshot Tips for Professional Looks

If you are an actor, like me, you know cracking into the business means making your face known. My 14 actor headshot tips are reflective of the journey I took and how I got some great headshots that helped me break into the business. Hopefully a few of these tips will help your acting career too!

1. Know the Importance of a Good Headshot

A bad headshot is worse than not having one at all because it could be holding you back from booking jobs, getting auditions, and making connections. Most actors will end up having multiple headshots throughout their careers, so it’s important to find the right photographer, pose, and style that suits your brand and unique look.

A good picture should showcase your unique look, personality, and commercial appeal. It should also help promote your brand or website and is the best way to get noticed by casting directors and agents. If you currently don’t have a headshot, it’s also critical that you get one as soon as possible. Definitely before upcoming auditions and before you book a role.

2. Check Reviews and Ask Friends to Find a Photographer

When you’re deciding which photographer to hire, the first thing to do is check their reviews to see what other past clients have to say about their experience. Reviews are a great way to learn what to expect from a photographer and to understand any concerns clients may have had.

You can also ask friends or colleagues for recommendations or suggestions on who they used and what they thought of the experience. While reviews can be helpful, they are also subjective and may not provide an accurate depiction of the photographer you’re considering hiring.

Talking to industry professionals will give you a better idea of who you should hire. And more importantly the look you want to share.

3. Take Your Time

This is a big decision it shouldn’t be rushed. You want to make sure you find the right photographer, at the right time, for the right reasons. While you want to get your headshot taken, it’s important not to rush the process. In Los Angeles you will find hundreds of photographers but to find the right one, you need to start networking and getting involved with other actors, even if you are kicking your acting career within on a budget.

Feeling rushed or pressured to book a photographer only increases the likelihood that you’ll end up with a bad headshot, which could set you back for years and cost you major opportunities as people don’t see you in their projects.

4. Look for a Collaborative Photographer

When hiring a photographer, you should be looking for someone who is collaborative and easy to work with. While you want the photographer to have an idea of your commercial goals, you want them to be flexible enough to work with you and offer feedback on your pose.

You also want to work with someone who is easy to talk to and who you feel comfortable with. You also want to make sure you have a photographer who understands the importance of booking the right type of headshot for your industry and commercial goals.

5. Avoid Stock Studios

When hiring a photographer, you want to avoid stock studios, at all costs. Stock studios are commercial and stock photography companies that specialize in headshots and are often the go-to option for actors just getting started and looking for headshots.

While you may end up paying less it’s likely that you’ll get a subpar product with a pose that has been used over and over again for years. Finding a photographer who specializes in headshots will help ensure that you get a quality, custom-made product that accurately represents you.

6. Look for Light Mastery

One of the most important facets of a good headshot is the lighting. You want to find a photographer who has mastered light and knows how to use it to make you look as good as possible. Ideally, you want to find a photographer who has experience with commercial headshots and knows the subtle nuances that make a commercial, online headshot different than a headshot for print.

When comparing photographers, ask them about their lighting setup and what type of lights they use. Look for photographers who use tungsten or LED lights as these provide a warm, consistent light source that makes your skin look its best. Avoid photographers who use flash kits as they create harsh shadows and don’t provide consistent lighting across the board.

You also want to make sure that the photographer is capable of adjusting the lights for your specific needs and skin tone.

7. Watch Out for Over-Editing

While having a beautiful and well-edited headshot is important, you don’t want to over-edit your headshot. A common mistake many photographers make is over-editing the headshot to compensate for poor lighting.

inding a photographer who knows how to edit your headshot without over-editing it will help ensure that you get the best possible product. It’s also important to note that your picture needs to look like you. If you are unrecognizable when you arrive at a casting call because you don’t look like your photo, you won’t get the job.

8. Don’t Hire Someone Just Because They’re Cheap or Free

While cost is important, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when hiring a photographer. A cheap headshot could mean that it was taken in a cheap studio with cheap equipment or that it was badly edited.

A free headshot could be worth even less than that—it could be taken by an amateur photographer with bad lighting. To truly ensure that you get a good headshot, you need to hire a professional photographer who is capable of producing high-quality images.

While maintaining a budget is important, it should be viewed as an investment in your future. A quality headshot could help you land roles for years to come, whereas a cheap headshot may not last as long and may be harder to book auditions with.

9. Consider what Clothing (and Colors) to Wear

When booking a headshot session, you want to select a wardrobe that gives an impression. It should accentuate your best features in an obvious fashion. Also it must conveys the message you want to send. Finally, is it appropriate for the type of gig you’re hoping to book?

Generally, you should avoid black and blue fashion for headshots. Instead, opt for softer tones and neutrals like white, gray, beige, tan, etc for clothing.

If you’re booking a theatrical headshot, then wearing black may be appropriate. Black can create a dramatic look, which may be exactly what you’re going for, but it can also make you appear grim and unapproachable.

Consider the color of the clothing versus the backdrop too. A light-colored backdrop can make you stand out more since the background will not be as prominent. Darker colors can make you blend in. Lighter is always better when looking at backgrounds.

10. Don’t Bling Out With Jewelry

Actors often feel the need to wear jewelry to stand out in the crowd, but jewelry can actually detract from your headshot. Avoid adorning your neck, face, and wrists with jewelry. Keep your headshot appearing clean and professional by showing only you.

11. Make Sure Your Hair Color is What You’ll be Wearing

The color of your hair will play a big role in the look of your headshot. What color you decide to be in the photograph with is the same color you need to show up at the audition sporting. Sometimes we forget how visually focused casting directors are for a project. Showing up with an alternate hair color will not get you a part.

12.Use Your Facial Features to Express Yourself

There are many ways to pose for a headshot and achieve the desired results. The key is to use your facial features to express yourself and tell a story about what you want people to know about you.

Sell yourself in your actors headshot.
Sell yourself in your actors headshot.

For example: If you want casting directors to know that you can play comedic roles, don’t just stand in the middle of the headshot looking at the camera. Instead, try something where you can show off your comedic skills. This can be done by interacting with the photographer or with another person.

13. Get a Professional to do Your Makeup

Unless you’re a makeup artist, don’t try to do your own makeup for your headshot. A professional makeup artist can help you achieve a look that makes you stand out, conveys the right message, and is flattering for your skin tone. Don’t be surprised if makeup artists will want to help you do your best as they can always claim to help you along the way (and that’s great for business.)

They’ll know how to use makeup to show off your best features while minimizing any blemishes, age spots, etc. that you may not want to be the focus of the photo. If you can’t afford a professional makeup artist, then ask the photographer if they have any recommendations..

14. Pose for the Characters You Want to Play too

The poses you choose for your headshot can help convey the roles you want to play and make you stand out to casting directors. A good photographer can help you play the part. From comedy to drama, from serious and powerful to timid, the expressions and pose you offer can bring your image to life.

In Conclusion

My actor headshot tips are practical ideas to make the most out of your moment on film. It is one of the most important factors in getting work as an actor. A bad actor headshot, however, can be worse than having no headshot at all. When interviewing photographers, you should be looking for someone that connects with your vision. Having the right acting headshot will help you achieve those goals.

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