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Examples of Great Actor Headshots

[picture of headshot]

When auditioning for roles, actors require quality headshot photos to include with their resumes. Headshots give directors insight into both your looks and your professionalism. A good headshot photo isn’t just about showing off your features, but how serious you are as an actor. What does this mean? It means that as an actor you are selling yourself, and anything lacking in quality will reflect badly on you. There are a few things to consider when trying to create a good headshot.

How To Shoot A Good Headshot Photo

If you’re the photographer taking actor headshots, there are a few elements to consider. First, you must figure out the technical setup. Standard actor headshots are typically shot vertically and fit in an 8” by 10” frame. Consider these dimensions when framing the actor’s headshot.

Secondly, you need to consider whether outdoor lighting or indoor lighting will work best. Depending on the role the actor is auditioning for, each type of lighting can give a different effect. Outside lighting feels natural while indoor lighting feels professional. No matter which lighting you choose, just make sure that the background of these photos isn't too busy. You want the attention to stay on the actor.

Finally, you should make sure that you speak with your client about the types of roles they’re auditioning for. Knowing what roles they’re aiming for will help you set up a shot that fits the mood. A headshot for the part of a grizzled detective should look much different than a headshot for the part of a plucky coffee shop owner. Take a few photos with variations to capture the actor’s range.

[two headshot pictures; one smiling and one neutral]

How To Look in Your Headshot

Now that the photographer is ready, what can the actor do to make their headshot stand out? There may not be one way to take a headshot photo, but there are important rules of thumb that can help you catch a director’s attention. Here are a few ways you can prepare for your photos:

  1. Stay Relaxed

One of the most important aspects of a good headshot is conveying emotion. Whether you give a wide smile or a light smirk, how you’re feeling is written on your face. No matter what emotion you’re trying to convey, a good director can tell if you’re feeling uncomfortable or forced. Try to stay calm and give off a natural look.

  1. Use Your Eyes

If a photo is focused solely on your face, then your face should be ready to perform. This includes your eyes since they can convey a lot of emotion. Make sure your eyes are focused and energized because distracted eyes can take away from your personality. Look alive out there!

  1. Don’t Be Flashy

You want to look clean and professional in your photos, but be sure you aren’t trying too hard either. Wearing flashy clothes can distract the director from you and make you seem unprofessional. You also shouldn’t wear a lot of makeup because it obscures how you truly look. Don’t try to bring in any props either just because you think it feels plain. Look good, not gaudy.

  1. Consider Your Type

The most important thing to consider when taking your headshots is what type of actor are you. Do you specialize more in dramas or comedies? Do you typically play the annoying little sibling or the responsible father? You need to know what type of person you want to portray before committing to photos. The role you want to aim for will make all the difference in how the photo looks.

[picture of respectable, older male headshot]

What Next?

Once you finally have your headshots taken and touched up, it’s time to send them out. As mentioned before, any physical headshots should be 8” by 10” in size, while online submissions should be the recommended file size. Although the application part is finished, this isn’t where the work ends.

The last important thing to remember is that headshots are meant to grow, just like you. After you submit them, you should network with others in your industry to see what they think. They may have suggestions for alternate shots you can purchase.

Of course, even if your headshot works perfectly right now, it will need to update anyway as you age. You must portray yourself accurately over the years if you want directors to trust you. So every time you need to get new headshots taken, approach them as if they’re the first ones you’ve ever had. A fresh perspective may help you create something better than ever before.

Alyssa Buffington

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