headshot tips for actors and talent

(For business photos, please see our page of headshot tips for business portraits)

Most important

  • Your headshot should look like you - exactly how you would show up for an audition
  • Your photo has to sell your looks and personality
  • What you see is what you get

General Tips

  • Tell us your expectations and intentions. Let us know what kind of look you want
  • Drink lots of water and be well rested (so your eyes will not have dark cirlces)
  • Your skin might not look it's best after drug/alcohol use. Try to abstain from these before your shoot
  • Arrive on time. Please do not arrive more than 10 minutes early (we may have other clients scheduled before you)
  • Please call if you are running late or arrive early

Practice

  • Rehearse at home in front of a mirror. Practice poses and expressions (see below about characters)
  • If you're having trouble with expressions, watch your face in the mirror while running lines from a favorite scene
  • Visualize different emotions while looking in the mirror. Watch how this changes your expression

"Characters" or "Types":

Actors are hired to play a character and tell a story. Does your look allow you to play different characters? Think about how these character types would look:

  • The good guy/girl
  • The popular guy/girl
  • The guy/girl next door
  • The bad guy/girl
  • The professional guy/girl

Also, think about the subtext or story behind a character. Where is this character from? What is his/her disposition? What is his/her financial background (blue collar/white collar/middle)?

Bring wardrobe that supports how these characters would look.

What to Wear / Wardrobe:

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you look great
  • Don't overdress
  • Clothes should be neatly pressed and should look new or like new
  • Bring a variety of clothing that emphasizes different roles/characters (professional, blue-collar worker, intellectual, sexy, etc...)
  • Avoid logos or branding
  • A simple black shirt/blouse/dress is often a good option
  • Avoid white shirts unless you plan to wear it underneath something
  • Darker clothes attract less attention and put the attention on your face and eyes
  • Solid colors are great
  • Avoid busy patterns and large lines or stripes
  • No glitter
  • Blue/green/turquoise clothing can help emphasize blue/green/hazel eyes
  • Avoid red as a dominant color
  • A suit or jacket are great for men wanting a more professional look
  • Pay attention to details. Layers, ties, belts etc
  • Different necklines will change the apparent shape of your face. Bring a variety different shirts/blouses to see what works best
  • Turtlenecks are almost always a bad idea (since they crowd the face)
  • Don't worry about shoes too much unless you specifically want a full-length look
  • Don't only bring 3-4 same-style shirts in different colors. Bring variety of styles
  • Bring a few extra oufits so we can choose what looks best on you at the shoot

Remember: Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Choose something that makes you look good.

Jewelry:

  • Keep jewelry extremely simple - small is better
  • Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated
  • The picture is about your face, not your jewelry
  • Be prepared to remove facial piercings or multiple ear piercings if needed

What to bring:

  • Your previous headshots (so we can improve)
  • Sample headshots to help communicate the look you want
  • Favorite Music (iPod/MP3 player, phone, thumb-drive)
  • Various changes of clothing (see above)
  • A good attitude
  • Lip balm
  • Hair brush/comb
  • Makeup and hair products you prefer (especially if you have allergies)

Hair and Makeup Tips:

  • Make-up should be clean and natural.
  • Wear a heavy layer of translucent powder - your face will appear flawless in photos. Shine disappears, pores seem smaller, skin looks even, and blush is smoother.
  • Men may need base, concealer, and powder for the shoot. It is best to obtain your own so it is specially matched to your skin tone.
  • Line lips before applying matte lipstick, then reline. Don't overdo it. Dip a cotton bud in powder and run along lip line to prevent color from bleeding.
  • Avoid shimmers or products with lots of sparkle or shine.
  • Avoid frosts or garish colors.
  • Don't get a new hair cut just before the shoot (you may want to let it grow-in a bit or get used to styling a new cut).
  • Do not try/use any new product on your hair, face or body the day before or few days before your shoot.
  • Avoid over-styling. Keep it simple.
  • If you are under 16-years old the only makeup you need is lip balm or lip gloss.

Arrive with:

  • Hair styled and makeup already applied (if not using makeup artist)
  • Already dressed in first outfit