Getting that perfect shot
“What makes a great actor shot” By Elizabeth ojo
Getting a great headshot is one of the most important tools you have marketing yourself as an
actor. The perfect headshot is a vital factor for your career, so making sure that you get a
perfect shot is a major key, and who doesn't love a major key, i know i do. Questions arise and
you might find yourself asking “ What goes into getting a perfect headshot”?
Searching for new ways to positively reinvigorate yourself as an actor is a promising trait, you
always wanna stand out amongst the crowd to get the casting directors attention. No matter
how artistically skilled you are, in a vast career field such as acting the probability of anyone
taking the time to discover that skill without a perfect headshot is slim to none. A great actor's
headshot consists of many things, putting yourself in a casting director's shoes always helps.
HD or High Quality photos are first and foremost, you want quality images that pop out like a
needle in a haystack. Look at things like lighting, make sure your photos are well lit and flatter
you. Keep your background simpel and calm, you don't want to give room to having anything but
yourself be the main attraction. Give a good angle, standard headshots are usually head on but
you know yourself to focus on your good side. Express yourself, remember you’re marketing
yourself, try to stay away from busy clothing but showcase who you are through your eyes and
facial expressions, generic headshots can come off as a bore.
The list can go on and on so not to overwhelm yourself keeping things simple is your safest bet.
The introduction of the headshot could be traced back to the infancy of photography itself, the
first photographic portrait was by Robert Cornelius in 1839.
Robert Cornelius’s Self-Portrait, 1839.
Over the decades the status quote for a great actor headshot evolved. In the 1920’s actor
headshots were incredibly elaborate, actors wore expensive clothes, tons of makeup and the
looks were very dramatic. Captured on black and white film the lighting was dark and
atmospheric, this reflected the black and white films of the times. As time progressed actor
headshots became more natural and clearer, as film, shooting techniques, and technology
Actor headshots became an essential. Quality headshots show professionalism and personality.
A prospective employer will translate that as you’re serious about your craft and have the work
ethic to follow through – this really stands out. This is something that can open new doors and
opportunities for you. Everyone has to start from somewhere, here are some examples of actor
headshots from actors who grew to be household names today, our favorite TV shows and films
wouldn't be the same without them.
Image credit: Getty Images
Marilyn Monroe (neé Norma Jean Baker) landed her first role in Dangerous Years in 1947, but
her big break was in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953.
Image credit: NBC/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio got his start in commercial acting as a young child, he acquired his superstar
status from his role in titanic.
Image credit: Michael Caulfield Archive/Getty Images
Chris Pratt got his start on the UPN/CW series Everwood, as he renvigrated himself he landed
his big break as Starlord on Guardians of the Galaxy
Our eyes say alot more about us than people think, these actors’ presented their personality at
the forefront setting their individual uniqueness apart – catching casting directors attention for
roles best suited for them. Their rise to fame all started with a perfect headshot.
It's no secret professional headshots can cost up to thousands of dollars and usually
professional headshots are the best way to go. Most up and coming actors’ struggle with long
periods of unemployment, acting class cost, and several other monetary investments – acting
ain't cheap. This can be discouraging for new actors, especially those who come from poverty
however In this career resilience is key “Where there's a will there's a way”.
Even if you’re not rolling in cash, creativity is your bestfriend – get creative and find ways to
elevate your headshots with whatever resources you can acquire. Things are not how they once
were in the 1830’s. In modern society most of us have high quality phones at our fingertips – if
you have a newer phone I recommend setting your camera to Portrait Mode to get a good
headshot. The best light is natural light and the sun is free, stand facing the sun to avoid harsh
shadows. Ask a family member or friend for some help taking the photo, you never know who
has a secret passion for photography. If you’re a student, reach out to students who are a part
of your school's photography department.
Think of creative ways to stand out, go to your local thrift store and find a unique outfit to wear –
nothing too loud though. Maybe there, you can even find unique minimal jewelry and non
distracting probs to bring with you to your headshot session. Even with all these things if you
and your photogery don't have a good connection or communication it can be harder to translate
all your efforts into the headshot. Make sure you choose someone who you can clearly
communicate your wants and needs with. Having someone who does more than taking pictures
but captures a story elevates the productivity of any session – just like acting photography is an