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TOOLS of the Trade: Headshots

For an actor your headshot is hands down your MOST IMPORTANT TOOL! A model may invest hundreds or more likely thousands into a portfolio. But the actor has a need for one GREAT photo.

Your headshot is your FIRST IMPRESSION to the world. Hopefully, you will build a reel to back up your headshot . But, first you have to get your foot in the door. It baffles me that people want to skimp on this ! "Oh no $150 is too much to invest in my career.” “ I'll let my Uncle Bobby Joe do it. He took some pictures at Cousin Jenny’s wedding last summer ."

This is a red flag to me .. and to other industry professionals. You might as well put a big red stamp across your forehead that says "amateur" . Do yourself a favor . If you want to be treated like a professional and get professional jobs you have to act like a professional and have the tools of a professional! I think it was Paul Weber who told us, “A carpenter wouldn't show up to a job site with a Little Tykes hammer”. DO NOT submit a selfie or a pic from your last night out on DIckson St with all of your buddies in it. Oh, and I also don't need to see the toilet in your pic. Yep! I've seen it all.

So here are the basics of a good solid headshot.


Wear solid colors . No black, white, patterns, or logos. Don't wear something that shows a lot of skin, like a halter or tank top/sun dress. Stick to flattering colors. in most cases I recommend rich, saturated colors unless you are fair skinned. Then pastels may play more flattering to your coloring. As with anything in this industry, you don't want to distract from your natural looks . but to enhance. Take some time to have your colors done and find out which colors are most flattering to you! Get with me if you need some help with that. I love doing color analysis! Some people recommend teal for everyone. I'm not sure of the philosophy there. But I’ve never disliked teal in a headshot lol. Pants and shoes won’t show. Be comfy!


Ladies only small non-distracting jewelry. Stay away from colorful or dangly earrings and bright colored necklaces. Just a simple chain and earring studs are ideal. You aren’t accessorizing an outfit. You are the centerpiece and the best accessories are a great smile and your EYES!

Make up :

Kids - ZERO MAKE UP! Not mascara. Not lip gloss. Nothing.

Ladies - HD products are always preferred for on camera. But at the very least shy away from mineral powders and anything reflective or luminescent. See my last blog, for details about choosing foundations. Keep your eye make up natural with little to no eyeliner. We need to see your features, not your make up skills. No glossy lips either. Keep everything natural and matte.

Men - Assuming you will shoot more than one look, you should arrive with a five o'clock shadow as your first look. Bring your shave kit for your other looks.

Styling - You want to have a headshot "look" for each type of role you may audition for. You don't what to send your best smile in for a serial killer role or visa versa. Ideally , you may want to start with a good genuine smile, the business person, and the bad you, ie, you had a rough life, or you are a heroin addict, a sick old lady, or the tough guy. Don't be too campy in them! But be sure to know what your potential roles would be.

Technical stuff:

Headshot styles change almost season to season...and often casting director to casting director. But what seems to be the trend right now is almost an extreme tight shot. Consider this, when you submit for a part digitally, the CD (casting director) may get literally hundreds of headshots he will see as thumbnails. If your head is only a fraction of the sheet they may never even open your file to give you a second look.

Your EYES are everything. Be sure your photog understands you want your eyes to be the feature of the shot.

DO NOT pick just any photog to do your headshots. Alot off photogs will say they do headshots. But have zero idea about the industry and what is really needed. I often get gorgeous model shots for headshots. But they are definitely NOT the same thing.

Oh and no black and white photos for headshots. We need to see your coloring.

More technical stuff:

DO NOT photoshop your headshot to a point that it doesn't look like you anymore! Skin smoothing , blurring "fine lines" , teeth whitening, removing moles or birthmarks are a huge no no. You need to look in person exactly like you do in that headshot. What you CAN shop would be temporary flaws like break outs or dark circles under your eyes.

Everytine you get a new hair style/color you need a new headshot. Adults should get a new headshot every year at least and children every 6 months or so.

If you are represented by an agent , they likely have preferred photog for headshots to be sure their talent is presented according to the company and talent's branding. We try to shoot once a month or so. Please reach out if you would like to join us in a future shoot.

One more thing! SEND ME us your HEADSHOTS! We keep a database of actors for area castings, etc. Always be sure I have your up-to-date info!

Thanx for reading my blog. We will chat more about other tools of the trade in future blogs. If you enjoyed this or have questions PLEASE COMMENT BELOW ;)

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