Headshots for Actors

Ranting Goddess
5 min readJan 9, 2023
Lee Call photography (c)
Lee Call photography (c)
Lee Call photography (c)

Headshots.

There is so much to say about headshots I broke it down into paragraphs.
There is so much confusing advice out there about headshots, therefore I will try to make it clearer for you.

  1. What is a headshot?

A headshot is a professional photograph, usually, your head and shoulders, which are attached to your actor’s cv. It is the first thing that casting directors see on your cv and therefore is usually placed at the top of your resume. I believe it is one of the most important features on your cv obviously backed up with an excellent resume and show reel. If your picture has the right look for the character and they are looking at a professional headshot, then the chances are they will call you in for an audition.

2. Do I really need a professional headshot?

Well, the short answer is yes!
If you are a professional actor and you have been working in the industry for several years, you will know you need a professional headshot and I would suggest you change it if you alter your look. However, if you are very new to this industry and still learning well my suggestion if you have the money and you really want to have one done then yes go ahead but what we do with our new actors is suggest they get someone to take a nice head and shoulders shot that is well lit until they are ready to go on Spotlight or have had enough training, assessing regularly until we feel they are ready to begin auditions.

  1. I am in training. Do I still need one?

Student actors/actors in the industry take advice when your agent, trainer, or drama school informs you to have some headshots taken.
If you are at a training school, then you would need to talk to your acting coaches about CV headshots. If you are at a drama school, they have their own way of promoting the students this usually takes place in their final year and you will have an actor’s CV and headshot taken which is sent out to agents along with an invitation for them to attend a final play or musical with the intention that the agents will take you onto their books for representation.

  1. How much do you think I should pay?

I get asked this question a lot. You can pay from a few pounds to hundreds. You just need to use your common sense. If you are an established actor, well, it is advisable to have a good-quality headshot. In years gone by I have recommended photographers but they have been very expensive and if the actor, unfortunately, does not get any auditions with the photograph, then you end up feeling that the actor has wasted his/her money. It has taken me years to find the right photographer for us who is very reasonable (£120.00) and does a great headshot with me doing the make-up and hair, etc. We look at each picture taken until the actor and I are happy with one. It is all about teamwork and works well for us. However, I must stress this is usually a group of actors, so the cost is more reasonable.

  1. Where do I go?

My recommendation is to do your research. There are so many photographers out there now doing this as a living and the chances are you could negotiate a good price. But please look at their work online and make sure they do headshots for actors. If you know of any actors, ask them if they have been successful with their photographs. If the photograph is working for you, please don’t change it. However, please change it eventually as everybody changes with time.

  1. How often do I need to change the headshot?

I recommend changing it every 18 months to 2 years and with children every 12 months as they change so quickly. Babies and toddlers are even more regularly.

  1. Will it help me get parts?

It will not get you parts but it could help you secure an audition which could lead to an offer of a part.
If the look is right (how they visualise the character). The information on your cv is up to date and it fits with what they are looking for. Then it is looking positive that you will get an audition.

  1. How do I know it is a good headshot?

If you can see your eye, hair colour, and complexion, it will probably do the job. Also, to mention just because you like the picture does not mean that the casting director will, so ask professionals which photograph they would choose. If you do not have anybody who can give you that advice, then ask somebody who can give you an honest opinion. It might be somebody who you do not know that well. Family and friends will love everything that you do, so might not be the right people to ask! Sorry. If you come into contact with a casting director, show them three and ask them which one they like best.

  1. How do I need to look?

It has to be as close to what you really look like, so please no heavy make-up or different hairstyles that in day-to-day life you would not dream of looking that way. It has to be an honest look that when you turn up; you look like the person in the picture. (I am not talking about modelling pictures. That is something I do not deal with.) This is just for acting only. Many times over the years, I have been caught out because the picture was taken a long time ago and they now look so very different or the picture makes them look a lot more glamorous than they really are. To be on the receiving end of this can be disconcerting!!!!

10. Black or white or Colour?

Colour is now the preferred industry standard.

Please remember this is based on my experience only.

If you wish to ask me questions, please contact me. I will be very happy to answer any queries.

I would be grateful if you can share my blog with other aspiring actors.

Wishing you all the luck in the world.:)

Note from the author:-

Thank you to Lee Call photography for giving permission for the photographs to be featured in this post.

--

--

Ranting Goddess

Definitely like a rant and chant but not a goddess just in my dreams. Take me as I am. No airs or graces with me. Yorkshire Poet, Acting coach, Director.