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What makes a good Headshot Photo

Updated: 6 days ago

What makes a good headshot, is a question that many of us are curious to know...

There are a lot of pictures there and a lot of photographers, but only a few of them are the right ones for you.

Let's take a look step by step on what to check when you choose the right photographer.

How to choose the photographer, that will give you the headshots you need to be noticed by CD and agents.

What are headshots?

Over the years, the standard of the headshots requested by the industry has changed a lot. Each country has a different style of headshots and different ways of posing, dressing and makeup.

To simplify, here in the UK, at the moment, what defines a Headshots is a colour portrait 10x8 inch frame, head to shoulder with the focus on the eyes.

Framing, lights and backdrop technically make the headshots, but it is not enough! We need to add some more ingredients to make it works. It is also about you and how you feel during your photoshoot, your grade of confidence and the ability of the photographer to help you feel relaxed, click the button on the camera at the right moment and emphasise your features with a knowledgeable usage of backdrops and lights.

A good headshot is fundamental for an actor, as it is a preview of you for the Casting Directors. It needs to look like you walking into the room for your audition. It needs to look like you at your best.

Think about how you prepare before your audition. You will probably eat light the previous days to avoid unpleasant spots on your face, drink a lot of water to make your skin glow and dress and make up nicely but simple, to not kill the character you will audition for. The same story will work for the photoshoot.

Those pictures will represent you for 12 to 18 months unless you change your look before, so you want to be at your best for the day of your photoshoot.

Casting Directors will expect to see what your headshot portrays when you walk in the room and will be disappointed if the reality is different. A heavily retouched picture of you might work well for your social profile but will work, at the opposite against you on your Spotlight page.

For instance, if you have a naturally dark circle under since you were born, even when you are feeling good and rested, in that case, the photographer should retouch them lightly, only to make them looks natural, but cover them will be a big mistake!

Remember LLN is what you are looking for: Light make-up, Light Retouch on the picture and Natural Outfit.

You also want to look lead and confident, as remember that the camera captures everything, so you do not want to fake them.


How should I prepare?

Well, do your homework, think about the type of actor you are, i.e. comic, dramatic…, your age range, for what type of character usually are auditioned, which does not mean that you cannot be casting for a different character.

Practice means also try to look at yourself in previous pictures or self-tapes, to understand your face, if you have a favourite profile, for instance, or at your expression, the vibes that come out of yourself in the camera.

Your Karisma is what needs to be captured by the camera, more than anything else, hence why well-lighted eyes are really important.

Remember that your energy, your vibes on a headshot comes out through your eyes.

If you are tired, bored or not relaxed, it will shows. It will appear predominant on the camera, hiding all your Karisma.

To have a good headshot done, it is important to choose the right photographer for you, it’s true, but also do your part of the job, getting prepared for your photoshoot.

Think of your casting type. Show different range of yourself to the casting directors.

People will judge a product based on what it looks like. So choose the right photographer and invest in headshots is important.

You are branding yourself. You are selling yourself as a performer. To be able to show your qualities and talents you need to be noticed by the Casting Directors between other 2 inch pictures on their screen. You need to stand out! How?

Getting good headshots done is the answer.

Few days before your photoshoot, do some rehearsal in front of the mirror, take some selfies to study your face, your expressions, it will help you to relax on the day of the photoshoot. Remember, you need a range of yourself not the same look in different tops.

I mentioned before the LLN. Let's explore it a bit deeper.


A little make-up like concealer or a BB cream is ok. Make your skin looks better and glow without modifying your features. A light natural effect mascara or light colours to brighten up your eyes is fine as well if you wish. Avoid fake lashes and heavy make-up, as it will restrict the imagination of the range of characters you can be casting, plus remember that the Casting Directors want to see you in your unicity and not the mask on your face! Remember you need to look like you, at your best!


When I was looking to update my portfolio five years ago, I did my research watching galleries and thousand of pictures of a lot of headshots photographer. In the beginning, I need to admit that I was tempted to choose the one with the most beautiful pictures, the one where the actors look on the cover of a magazine! That is what we want, be noticeable, right? But the point is, they look fab, but I ask myself do I need a photo shoot for a magazine interview or cover? The answer was no! I've been hearing Casting Directors repeating too many times that they hate to choose somebody from the picture and do not be able to recognise the person when walking into their room. I did not want that, so I chose the photographer with natural retouched pictures.


The best outfit is always something that suits you. Choose something that makes you feel confident. Choose outfits with no visible brands, with no pattern or showy, nothing that can distract the viewer from your face. Remember, what you wear should be complementary to you, to enhance your colour, not the main attraction of the picture.


Your Karisma, your vibes comes out through your eyes, and what makes them pop up is the correct light.

When you check the photographer's portfolio, check the little light reflected in the subject eyes. If that light is there, the photographer knows how to use the lights to make your eyes pop up.

Be at your best it's a must, as much as choosing the headshots photographer, that knows how prioritises the eyes in his shots.

Headshots are actors marketing tools! Take it seriously is part of your business as an artist and self-employed.

Choose the photographer style that you think will work for you.

Get ready, think of your range of characters, which type of actor are you, where you wish to performs mainly, stage, tv or features film…

To recap quickly, remember :

  • Find a headshots photographer that suits you ( someone chose with the gut, some other by the time you need, Some photographers only shoot in a studio, others outdoor, and some do both. Look at the headshots photographers have taken and decide what you think will best suit you.)

  • Know your face

  • Know what type of actor you are

  • Choose your outfits

  • Posing/Trust the photographer


Good Headshots should :

· Look like the person.

· Be interesting and engaging.

· Draw attention to the eyes which should ‘pop up’.

· Have head and shoulders in the shot.

Bad Headshots?

· Look like they have been taken on a phone by a friend.

· Have a distracting background.

· Have distracting clothing, accessories or background.

· Have dead eyes.

· Are out of focus.

· Are over airbrushed.

· Having lights on your back and your face is in shadow.

. Your eyes look dark and do not show your colour

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