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How to Create a Great Headshot in the Acting Industry

An actor’s headshot can be his personal passport in the industry. It allows the actor to market himself to potential clients and even get a callback. It’s important to know that in the acting business first impressions almost always last. So at this point, any rookie actor may ask himself, what is needed to make a good headshot? Do you need to consult someone professional to take the photos? How will this impress the casting directors?

Those are pretty good starter questions if you are serious about building a career as an actor. Some example of headshot mistakes are looking too made up or getting the wrong lighting. These small details need to be looked into; otherwise, you could be judged the wrong way.

On this list, we have rounded some helpful tips in making a great headshot in the acting industry.

1. Consult a Professional


This makes for good investments because professional photographers know what to do best. Professionals are being paid to take good headshots, so anyone who has been in the business know the requirements by heart. This type of photographers know how to bring out your personality and they can make you stand out to casting directors. Be aware that shots from professional photographers can run up to $1,000, so be sure to have money ready just in case.

2. Keep Your Makeup Light and Minimal


If you don’t have the money for a renowned photographer to take your headshot but know someone who can do it for you instead, then be sure you and your appointed photographer know the basics. Number one basic rule in getting a good headshot is to make sure that the end photo looks exactly like you. Like the modeling business, a bare face makes a good canvas for the designer to go wild on. So keep the makeup light and minimal because you would not want to be showing up to a meeting with casting directors looking like a totally different person.

3. Dress Simply

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Again, there is no need to stock up on the glamour in order to get a good headshot. You would want to remain as basic as possible. There are a hundred photographs that look exactly like yours, but this does not give any actor the excuse to get theatrical. Try to remain as professional as possible and veer away from unnecessary props if you do not want to seem desperate or out of line. Remember, you are applying for a job for casting directors that know the industry more than you do, so if they see a photo of a man in a crazy costume, there is a big chance they wouldn’t consider him in the future if he cannot be serious for his job.

To dress simply, opt for plain tank tops or business casual attires that fit well without showing anything provocatively. Black would be a safe choice of color so your face will be the main focus here.

4. Pay Attention to Lighting

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This actually depends on the role you are auditioning for. If you want to audition for a drama, then you would want to show the casting directors what you would like in natural lighting, as opposed to a sitcom where you’d be subjected to studio lighting. In most cases, though, a photographer should let you do both.

5. Plain Backgrounds Are the Best

child model headshot in NYC by Daisy Beatty Photography

A good headshot should focus on your face. So don’t be afraid to voice out what you want as a backdrop in case your photographer wants you to pose in front of a busy intersection. Those kinds of pictures won’t get you anywhere as it distracts the casting director from your actual face.

6. Posing and Facial Expressions

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First of all, facial expressions are instructed to an actor beforehand depending on the part they are vying for. If you are represented by an agent, they will give you tips in case you are auditioning for a commercial or a specific role. What matters is that you give out expressions through your eyes, so even if you are told not to smile, the casting director will still see life come through your photo and make it stand out among a hundred other photos. Don’t overdo your poses or over squint your eyes, you’d want to look like someone a casting director would like to work with.

At the end of the day, your headshot will be like your calling card especially in an industry where looks are being judged to fit a certain part. Make sure you get yourself ready to nail your photo shoot and ensure you a spot in this very competitive industry.

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