There are a lot of things you don’t want to mess up when pursuing an acting career, but there’s one thing in particular you should make sure you get right: the headshot. Actor headshots are essentially the calling card of the entertainment industry. It’s your chance to make a great impression with a simple image. That being said, it’s worth putting plenty of effort and precision into creating a headshot that will get results.
Make Your Headshot Professional
This should go without saying, but it’s also no secret that money can get pretty scarce when actors are first getting started. You don’t have to shell out a ton of money if you have high-quality equipment or happen to have a photographer friend who’s willing to do you a favor. Whatever you do, don’t settle for shooting on your phone or with an older camera. You want your acting headshots to stand out, which means you’ll want to go the extra mile, not settle.
If you have the money set aside, it’s absolutely worth it to hire a professional to get good headshots.
Get the Lighting Right
The point of actors’ headshots is to make sure casting directors get a clear look at your face right away. Avoid harsh lighting in the middle of the day or sharp studio lighting. If you’re shooting in a studio, make sure the lighting is soft and doesn’t result in shadows around your face. The ideal lighting condition to aim for is natural lighting on an overcast day. Other good lighting conditions include outdoors in the shade of foliage or right before and after sunset. Just make sure you have a camera with good low-light settings if you shoot in these conditions.
Keep It Simple
Too often, actors think their headshots need to have some sort of gimmick to stand out. This will inevitably backfire since you want your face to be the focus.
Wear a simple outfit that still shows a keen sense of style and avoid heavy makeup. Make sure your face is free of blemishes and keep your hair well-groomed. When it comes to the pose, you should keep it straightforward and ensure the top of your shoulders are visible while keeping your hands off of your face.
Getting Your Expression Right
When you’ve found the perfect setup for your shot, including the right equipment, photographer, outfit, lighting, and background, and it’s finally time to snap the shot, nailing your facial expression is essential.
For one, you’ll want to look directly into the camera. Your eyes should stand out in your headshot so avoid taking a shot where you’re looking off to the side.
When it comes to your facial expression, keep it simple, confident, and poised. Generally speaking, your expression should be somewhat neutral without a cheesy smile. At the same time, be sure to exude confidence, hopefulness, and an upbeat attitude. You should look calm, but definitely not glum.
When you put all of these elements together, you’ll give yourself a much better chance of landing good auditions and getting discovered.