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Top Tips For Press And PR Headshots

The headshot will always be a crucial element to your profile. While you may not judge a book by the cover, you will be judged by how your headshot looks.

Now that you know that your headshot plays a significant role at the beginning of your career and moving forward, it is only natural to have questions regarding this mysterious item. We are here to help you clear a few things up and navigate the world of headshots so that you can get the best results.

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Headshot Basics

What will you need a headshot for? That answer is simple. Pretty much everything! You have to have a headshot for each aspect of your career in acting, but this is just a starter list:

  • Your website
  • Marketing materials, including business cards, press packs and postcards
  • To hand out at auditions
  • Online casting profiles
  • Submission to managers and agents for potential representation

You need to look at your headshot as a calling card. It will be and should be, the cornerstone of any marketing materials. Your headshot will be the face of your casting profiles, website, resumes, and postcards. The business cards and postcards that you have should always have your headshot on them.


Sit back and think of just about any famous brand. Each one will have carefully designed and icon that will be easy to identify. Anyone can look at the giant golden arches and know that this is McDonald’s and a Big Mac, fries, or Happy Meal is not far behind. You need to have a headshot that is going to be able to do the same thing for you and your career. The headshot is what puts a face to the brand.

If you are an actor, you are pitching yourself as the product. The headshot acts as the image that represents the product. Branding will be key for your presence online and with social media. Many actors will make the headshot their profile image for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

You should have both hard and digital copies of the headshot. Today, you will be submitting online for the most part. You will have to upload digital headshots onto your casting profiles online as well. Many projects will not allow you even to submit unless you have a profile picture that is a headshot. The very first thing that casting directors will see is your headshot with the submission.

While submitting to agencies for potential representation, whether by mail or email, the headshot will be the first item in the listing of materials that are required to be considered. Anytime that you go into a workshop with an agent or casting director, you should always have your headshot handy.

Why Do Agencies Need A Headshot?

This is where branding will come in. Whenever you submit to a project, the headshot will be the first thing agencies see. A casting director is a busy person that wades through thousands of submissions for roles. So, for any thumbnail to grab their attention, it must be a good one.

Maybe they have met you at a workshop, and they will recognise you from an online submission based upon the printed headshot you gave them or what is printed on your business card. The job of the casting director is to bring together to puzzle pieces. They have to be able to see your headshot and immediately have a sense of how you may be able to fit into the puzzle. They will have specific ideas when it comes to the roles that need to be filled. They never have the time to ponder out of the box characters so that they will take you at face value.

The headshot should always look like you. While this may seem obvious, it will be a common complaint with casting directions. Everyone has fallen victim to false advertising. You understand the unpleasant feeling of taking a bite out of what you think is a chocolate chip cookie, only to find that it is an oatmeal raisin cookie. This is how a casting director will feel if you want the space looking nothing like the headshot.

What Makes Up A Good Headshot?

You need to be identifiable by the headshot, so it is only natural that you need to look great. This could even be time for you to think about a makeover. But, you should know that you never want to look too good in the headshot.

Of course, you want to be able to show off your eyes, your great cheekbones and your amazing hair in the headshot. However, it will be about a whole lot more than a superficial appearance. The job of the headshot will be to capture the elements of your personality and brand, then convey them accurately.

The headshot is selling you, and you are one of a kind. The headshot should always show that. If it is not going to give an accurate portrayal of who you are and the characters you may play, it is not a good headshot. A quick exercise to do before getting headshots is to make a list of your best qualities. These should be traits that you would want as a representation of your brand. Now ask all of your colleagues and friends to do the same.

You need your headshot to look like you whenever you walk into a room, so it should represent your look on an average day, not only your best day. Unless you are hoping to get hair and makeup done by a professional for each audition that you go to, you should have your makeup done just as it would be on an average day. Natural makeup will always be best, as you want it to look as if you are not wearing any makeup. Save all of the glamour shots for your modeling profile or website.

What Does A Bad Headshot Consist Of?

Besides distracting patterns and jewellery, or being overly made up, the worst feedback that you can get is that they didn’t recognise you or that it looks nothing like you because of a distracting background. You have to keep the focus on your face and not cool architecture in the background. You need to casting director to look at the picture and wonder what you are thinking about instead of where the photo was taken.

Finding A Great Photographer

A headshot photographer will be easy to find, but finding the right one for you will be another story. There are a lot of worthy candidates available today, but just like everything else in the world of acting, it will be all about finding the perfect match. It may be tempting if you have a friend who has a camera to ask them to take a headshot or some selfies. While your friend may be able to take beautiful landscape shots, that never means that they will be a great headshot photographer. This is a world of photography what is all about the capturing of expression and essence, so you need to remember that quality will directly reflect on your level of professionalism.

Find A Professional Photographer With A Balance Of Technical And Personable Skills

Like anything else in the industry, you should ask for referrals and look at the headshots of your friends. Make a list for all of your favourites and then ask for contact information for the photographers who captured the best headshots. Going through those who you know will also give you some inside information on how the photographer may be to work with, as well as their personality type.

Take the time to research a prospective photographer, looking at their website and any galleries for past work. You need to have a conversation with them before you commit to helping you make sure you have a compatible vision for the final product. Many photographers will offer a free consultation.

What Should I Know Before Having Headshots Taken?

It is best to have a clear idea of what you are looking for out of your session. There will be a lot of preparation involved, including having your hair and makeup done. By the same token, there will be some mental preparation that is necessary. What will the headshots be used for? What kinds of roles are you looking for? Are there any projects that you would like to be a part of?

Your Clothing

Simplicity will be key for the headshot wardrobe because you need to focus to be on you and not your clothing. Stay away from distracting jewellery or busy patterns. You know what looks best on you so select colours that will compliment your skin tone and eyes.

Your Poses

Even though a headshot is a still image, you should not look as though you are still. You do not want a boring headshot, so bring in some attention to the frame by having some action. If you have strong qualities, you also need to be sure that the pose can reflect that. This is all about your open nature and what encompasses all that you are as an actor. Bring in the viewer, keep them engaged and tell a story with your headshot.

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