How to get the most out of your headshot photography session

Whether you’re fresh out of drama school or a seasoned professional, an actor’s portrait, or headshot, is a critical stage in the casting process. This single, close-up picture becomes your calling-card, introduction and point of reference whenever you are going to be put forward for work. So getting it right and making it as appealing as possible is more important than you might imagine.

The importance of headshots for actors
When a director or casting agent flips through a pile of headshots, yours needs to stand out. It must be a true representation of what you look like and, remember, you won’t be doing yourself any favours if you send a picture that was taken several years ago. It must be bang up to date and it needs to communicate your connection with the camera and the audience. Having a professional headshot can go a long way to convince a director that you’re a serious actor; send in a fuzzy holiday snap and you might as well kiss your acting career goodbye.

Preparing for you headshot studio session
This is one photo for which it’s critical that you look your best. Set the date some time in advance; this will allow you to have a haircut, without falling prey to the freshly-cut look that you’ll have if you get it cut the day before the shoot. It will also allow you time to have a few early nights – dark circles under your eyes are not the sort of look you’re trying to achieve. Avoid partying and drinking for a couple of days and drink plenty of water in the preceding 24 hours so your skin is well hydrated.

On the day, wash your hair and groom yourself carefully; men should shave or trim their stubble or beard to the desired length and women should make sure their skin is well hydrated. Don’t apply make-up too far in advance of the shoot or it will be looking a little tired by the time you get there. In fact, it’s best if you wait until you arrive at the headshot photographer’s studio and then you can make sure it’s perfect at the right moment.

What should I wear?
Simple clothes that won’t date are best – a top that won’t steal the attention from your face, so generally something plain. Choose the sort of neckline or collar that suits you best and go for a light colour or a dark colour in contrast to your skin tone; texture is good but shiny isn’t. Also, bear in mind that it will be hot in the studio because of all the photographer’s lights, so keep clothing light. If you sweat, this will show up as shine on your nose and forehead – definitely to be avoided. Keep jewellery to a minimum as it will take the focus away from your face and also avoid having your hair across your face or in your eyes. Casting directors want to see your features and your eyes are the most important. To be on the safe side, a choice of tops will give your photographer some leeway.

Your headshot photographer
Actors’ headshots are an important marketing tool, so it certainly pays to have your picture taken by a professional. But more than that: some photographers specialise in headshot photography. They know what works and what doesn’t – and most importantly what the industry is looking for. So if you’re serious about getting the best out of your headshot, our advice is to find a professional headshot photographer and book your appointment now.