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Lights, Camera, Action: How to prepare for Actor Headshots Photoshoot

As an actor you will be judged by your cover image (a headshot!), so it’s imperative your ‘cover’ looks exceptional. Your headshot is your calling card. It’s the first thing casting directors, agents, and potential employers will see. Hence why, it’s crucial that your headshot not only looks great, but also communicates your personality and versatility as an actor. Here’s everything you need to know on how to prepare for your upcoming actor headshots photoshoot to make sure you’re ready to shine in front of the camera.

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Essential tips on how to prepare for your actor headshots:

1. Research and Choose the Right Photographer

Getting great actor headshots is a team effort. You need a photographer who can capture more than just a good photo. They should also bring out your personality in the image. Potential employers and casting directors don’t care about technical details; they’re looking at your expression and body language. That’s what really matters!

Look for a professional photographer who specialises in actor headshots and has a portfolio that fits your style and needs. It’s important to share the same goals for the photos. Otherwise, the photographer might take good pictures that impress you but don’t land your desired roles as an actor.

2. Know Your Type and Roles

Know the types of roles you want to cast for and share this with your photographer. This helps choose the right look and expressions. Each look might need different lighting, so planning ahead is key to making the most of your time on set.

Think about whether you need commercial, theatrical, or both types of headshots​. Commercial headshots are usually brighter, more expressive and engaging. Theatrical headshots are opposite – more dramatic, focusing on a range of emotions and characters you are able to portray. 

3. What to wear for actor headshots

Your outfit choices can’t be neglected. To make sure your headshots are effective yet not distracting, choose simple, solid colour tops and jackets. Colours that complement your skin tone usually work the best. I always recommend avoiding patterns and logos, so that nothing distracts from your face. 

Bring a few clothing options to your photoshoot. From my experience it’s always better to overprepare outfits and be able to pick and choose on the day, rather than being limited with options. The more outfits you bring, the more looks/character types you can create. Adding a variety to your headshot portfolio will open more opportunities to audition for a wider range of roles.

Read my previous blog for a more in-depth discussion about What to Wear for Actor Headshots.

4. Makeup and hair

Avoid any dramatic changes to your appearance before the photoshoot. You may be tempted to try a fabulous new haircut or a makeup look for the first time for the photoshoot, but you want to be able to style your hair comfortably and ideally similar to the way you’d go to your audition. If you’re panicking about fixing your hair, or how to wear your new outfit – this will show in the photos.

5. Day of the Photoshoot Prep

Okay, so now you’ve booked your session and the photoshoot is around the corner – what now? Be sure to get a great night’s sleep, this will help naturally clear up any tired eyes. 

Don’t worry about any temporary blemishes and imperfections, there shouldn’t be a need to cancel the photoshoot just because of some annoying spot that has appeared – this can be removed in post-production. You do of course want to keep photo-manipulation to a minimum however, to ensure your portfolio looks authentic.

On the day of your shoot, you can expect to mostly be guided by the photographer. They should control the pace of the session and ensure there is enough time to capture the looks you’ve discussed with them previously. The photographer should be experienced enough to know when to ‘move on’ to the next style/outfit.

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Bonus section: How to manage your new actor headshot portfolio after the photoshoot

So your photoshoot went great – what now? Here are a few things to keep in mind to manage your portfolio for success:

  1. Once your photoshoot is over, review the proofs carefully and select the most effective images. Choose photos that don’t just look good, but also convey the characters/roles you want to land as an actor.
  2. Try to avoid the urge of asking your photographer to excessively Photoshop your images. While professional editing can enhance your photos, overdoing so will make an opposite effect on casting directors.
  3. Once you received your images, keep them safe on your computer/storage device – your photographer won’t keep them forever.

You might also enjoy reading Actor Headshots: The Ultimate Guide.

Your actor headshots are an essential part of your marketing toolkit. Preparation for your photoshoot might feel like a meticulous task, but the effort will certainly pay off. I hope you find this blog post helpful, and if you have any questions on how to prepare for actor headshots, make sure to pop them in the comment section below.

If you’re looking for a Birmingham-based photographer to help with your actor headshots, feel free to drop me an email.


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