Professional Acting Headshots Tips

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Preparing for a Headshot Session

Once you've booked your headshot session with a professional photographer, you may be wondering how to prepare for your session. Here are a few key pointers for how to get ready for your headshot session:

  • Call to confirm your appointment 24 hours ahead of time.
  • Don't drink alcohol the night before, which can make you puffy. Get a good amount of sleep the night before.
  • Show up to the studio 15 minutes early. Never arrive late.
  • Keep colors basic. Blue is best. Your headshots should be shot in black and white, so stay away from white colors, as they tend to wash you out.
  • Bring at least three changes of clothing: casual, business, and business casual.
  • If you wear any jewelry, keep it small and simple. Remove any facial piercings or be prepared to have them airbrushed out.
  • Get a professional hair and makeup artist to do your hair and face. Yes, men, too.

   
What's the difference between a commercial and a theatrical headshot?

Commercial and Theatrical Headshots

There are two basic types of headshots: commercial and theatrical. A commercial headshot should be attractive, warm, and open. A theatrical headshot, on the other hand, is more serious, and should try to represent your characteristics as a person. The format for headshots varies throughout the country –- from close-ups to 3/4 shots, from bordered to borderless. Make sure you use the preferred format for your area of application.

   
What should I wear for a headshot?

Dressing For a Headshot

When getting your headshots taken, keep your clothes simple, avoiding logos or loud colors and prints. Since the photo will be black and white, black and white clothing may appear too bold. Keep jewelry to a minimum, and makeup simple. Style your hair as you would normally. Avoid completely new ensembles or very trendy outfits as styles change. Wear something nice that you will appear comfortable in. Make sure that collars and necklines frame your face well.

   
What should I do to keep in touch with potential employers?

Sending Postcard Headshots

Maintaining a relationship with a potential employer is key. Directors and agents have to be reminded that you are still working, still active and available. A great way of doing this is by sending postcard-sized versions of your headshot. After the initial meeting, send a postcard headshot every four to six weeks. Keep a list of contacts you send to regularly. If you're in any shows or films, be sure to let your contacts know. Make your presentation simple and to the point. Since agents and casting directors are so busy on a day-to-day basis, regular reminders to them go a long way.

   
How do I get my headshot to project my image?

The Look of Your Headshot

Casting directors use headshots to get a feel for an actor's character. The headshot should embrace your best qualities. Let the shot be true to you. Misrepresenting yourself will only lead to trouble later in auditions. Remember, headshots aren't glamour shots. The look should be natural, open, and compelling. Many times, you will be judged by your headshot even before you are called in to have an audition. Let your photo speak for you and your abilities by being professional yet accessible.

   
What kind of format do I use for my headshot?

Format for Your Headshot

Having a proper headshot is crucial to your acting career. The headshot should be a black and white 8x10 photograph. Commercial headshots should frame only your face from the shoulders up. You should be smiling, showing a little of your teeth. It's not a bad idea to have an alternate headshot as well that shows off your body. This picture can be more casual. Once you have a headshot, make sure that it evolves with your acting career. If you change hairstyles or gain or lose weight, make sure to have new headshots taken.

   
How should I go about mailing my headshot?

Mailing Your Headshot

Little things can make a big difference. Enclose your headshots in an envelope that is easy to open. That way, the casting director doesn't have to struggle with your materials. A simple clasp envelope sealed with a small piece of tape should do the trick. Attach a small note to your headshot. It will gain you a few extra moments of the casting director's time without being annoying. Your name should be printed on the front of your headshot and your resume should be on the back. If you have not printed it directly to the back of the headshot, staple your resume to the photo. Never use paper clips as they snag on other documents.

   
How do I select my headshot?

Choosing Your Headshot

Get your headshots taken by a professional headshot photographer who knows how to capture your personality. When you review the proof sheet, view the entire shoot, not just the photographs that the photographer selects for you. This way, you get a better idea of their overall skill, rather than letting them hide behind a few good shots. Remember, you want a skilled photographer who not only makes you look as good as possible, but also brings out the true you.

   
What kind of photographer should I use for my headshot?

Selecting a Headshot Photographer

When selecting a headshots photographer, you should always use a photographer who specializes in headshots. Research several different photographers, and ask your contacts in the industry for recommendations. Ask to see the photographer's previous work. Use a photographer with a permanent studio; mobile studios are less trustworthy. Negotiate rates beforehand and get an agreement in writing before shooting begins.

   
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Patricia Walters-Fischer