If you want to be a professional actor, headshots are a must. As quoted on backstage.com, “An actor’s headshot is their professional calling card - and the best ones do more than just catch a casting director’s attention in the moment. A great headshot is also memorable enough to pop back into the CD’s mind the next time a role suited for your type crosses their desk.” A headshot is also the first thing a casting director looks at when going through submissions.
Whether it is fair or not, a lot of actors get hired for their looks, alongside their acting abilities. Even if an actor is brilliant, if the looks don’t match what the director and casting director have in mind, he/she may not get the role.
This might seem daunting, but we have some tips to make it easier!
Get It Done Professionally
If possible, get a professional photographer with a professional camera to take your headshots. They understand lighting and photography and will be able to give you exactly what you want. Getting a friend to do it might work in a pinch, but there is always the risk that you and your friend might miss something that the casting director will notice as being unprofessional. Try and save up in order to get the photos done professionally.
Wardrobe and Makeup
Do try to look as natural and as “you” as possible. Try not to retouch photos so that they show what you really look like. Try to wear minimal makeup or if it’s your first time, you could even hire a makeup artist. However, try to keep the makeup light and as natural as possible. As for clothes, you could try a couple of different looks, but try to stick to plain colours that won’t stand out more than your face.
Try and have a relaxed expression that does not look confused or tense. You could have a few shots smiling and a few serious shots. These could cover a wide range of roles that you could work for.
The background should not be distracting. If it’s outdoors, then the background should be blurred so that the focus is on you and your face.
Props and Framing
Avoid using props and keep the frame at least waist up or ideally, closer. The closer the photo is, the better the casting director can see your face. For proper headshots, hands should not be in the shot anyway, so the only props you might use would be glasses (if you wear them).
Headshots at Home
If getting them done professionally is not an option, due to any circumstances, then try to use a good camera, good natural lighting and a plain background to take the headshots at home!