A headshot is one of an actor’s most important tools. But it’s not enough to have a photo that just makes you look good. An effective headshot also shares a bit about who you are. For this reason, it is critically important that your headshot looks like you. This may sound like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised at the amount of actors who have headshots that make us do a double take at an audition having to ask each other, “Wait, was this the guy who was just in here? It looks nothing like him!”

Getting a headshot that shares a little of who you are as a person is not such an easy task. For most of us, having our photo taken is a slightly uncomfortable task. And if you feel uncomfortable, you will likely look uncomfortable.

So here are a few tips to help you make sure you get a headshot you love!

Photo by Ailbhe Flynn on Unsplash

Interview photographers

Just because your friend loved a certain photographer or you love someone else’s photos doesn’t necessarily mean that photographer is right for you. Make sure to have your photos taken by someone who specializes in headshot photography. Selfies, or having photos taken by a friend or relative might be a great cost saving measure, but it’s not the way to get a professional quality headshot.

Speak with several photographers before making a decision, and have some questions prepared. Here are a few things you can ask:

  • Where will we shoot, outside or in a studio? If we plan an outside shoot and it rains, what do you do? 
  • What kind of backgrounds will we be using? What color clothes would work well? How many outfits should I bring?
  • How long is a typical shoot? How many photos do you take?
  • What is included in the price? Makeup/Hair? Retouching? Digital copies?
  • What happens if I don’t like the photos. Will you reshoot?
  • Can you share the names/contact info for several people you recently shot as references?

What to Wear

It’s a good idea to bring several outfits to the photo shoot so you have options. It’s fine if you decide to buy a new outfit, but be sure to bring along things you’re very comfortable in as well. Think about what you want your headshots to share about you and then try to bring clothes that match those traits. For example, if you want to share your playful side you might want to bring some bright colors and patterns. If you are looking to showcase your intensity, maybe you want to bring some more formal looking clothes in darker colors.

A playful option?
Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash

Always check with the photographer to see if they have any suggestions for clothing based on where they’ll be shooting and the backgrounds and lighting they’ll be using. Ask if any hair and makeup folx are included in the price to help you or if that will be left to you. Be sure to practice any hair and makeup looks at home prior to the shoot.

Don’t Be Cheap

Good headshots can be expensive. But getting a “deal” may not yield the kind of photos you want. Then again, just because a photographer is expensive doesn’t mean you’ll be happy with your photos either. Headshots costs can vary wildly. An average one-hour photoshoot in New York City can cost between $500-$1000. Take time to do your homework and be sure to ask what is included in the cost. An inexpensive shoot can suddenly become very expensive if you wind up not liking the photographer or you have to pay for retouching.

Once you get your photos back, it’s a good idea to choose several to retouch. You may want to send out different types of photos for different types of jobs so having options is key.

Get a headshot you love!
Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash

Spend time before the shoot deciding what you’d like your photos to share about you and let the photographer know. If you do your research and plan ahead, it is possible to get headshots you love and that will help you get work!

Now you’ve sorted headshots, check out our top tips on how to prepare for audition!

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