First off, I know that you know that the image above is not a good headshot. Well, there are actually some decent things about it: the framing (but, it’s cropped a bit wide and he’s off in a corner), the lightning, the background (neutral is good), and the color of the sweater (but, come on, iron that thing!)…but that expression, though? Obviously not a good face to make for an actor headshot, even if you are presenting a “fun,” “goofy,” or really “expressive” version of you.
What we will cover in this post is what a good headshot looks like, how to prepare for your session, and where to find photographers in the Seattle area.
headshot above by Lisa Squared Photographing
- Shoot with someone you are comfortable with.
- Bring plenty of wardrobe choices.
- Have an idea of what you want to achieve.
- Know exactly what your shoot day will look like.
- Find out how your images will be delivered.
- Get plenty of rest the day before.
- Be hydrated. And stay hydrated.
- Stay loose during the shoot (take breaks, stretch, breathe).
- Consider hiring a hair and makeup artist.
- Have fun!
headshot above by Evan Gardner Photography
- Look like you. Really. And not you on “the best day ever in your life!” It must look like a version of you that you can replicate.
- Get you in “the door.” Meaning, into casting rooms.
- Be in color (I think it’s okay to have a B&W shot in your collection, but lead with color).
- Emphasize the eyes. “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Yep, silly cliche’, but very true. Make sure that the eyes are lit, expressive, and full of communication.
- Sell some version of you, or a character you can portray. Your wardrobe can help here when it comes to suggesting types, and this kind of approach is more applicable to your theatrical shot or your more “character-ey” commercial looks.
- Pop! Meaning, the image must jump off the page! A lot of casting is done online, and the images that the casting department looks at are thumbnail sized.
- Inspire the interest of others.
- Be well lit.
- Be well framed.
- Be something you love.
Headshot above by John Ulman Photography
- Hire a professional headshot photographer.
- Research your photographer and find out how they shoot (locations, studio, natural light, etc.).
- Meet the photographer if possible to make sure it’s a good fit.
- Your uncle with a new digital camera might not be the best choice.
- Your headshot is your most important marketing tool.
- Pro headshots will run between $200-400.
- Research headshot photography and current trends.
- There are plenty of great choices in the Seattle area (some are linked below).
- If you are represented, consult with your agent.
- Take your time finding the “right” photographer.
We talked headshots on the David S. Hogan Show.
As an actor, you will have at least two headshots – meaning, two different looks. If you look at the images below, it’s pretty clear that they have a different feel. Then one on the left is a commercial shot, and the one on the right is theatrical. The commercial shot has a smile, a warm expression in the eyes, is well lit (not much shadowing on the face), and has a colorful wardrobe choice, which is also casual in style, which might suggest something about the actor (sporty, active, casual, etc.). The theatrical shot has a much more shadowing, is far more serious in expression, and the wardrobe suggests something more professional (can we sense a type here and do ideas of how to cast this actor come to mind?). Both shots are using studio lighting.
Don’t go overboard with the Photoshopping and retouching. Remember, the headshot must look like the actor.
When you get your shots reprinted, use 8×10 paper (most folks prefer matte, not glossy), and use heavy stock (card stock). Printing your headshot at home is a last resort. Get your headshot professionally reproduced at a shop linked below, or find a local printer for one-offs. Remember, always make sure your resume’ is attached to the headshot and is also 8×10. To make things easy on yourself, when you buy a ream (500 sheets) of paper next time you shop (I have had success at Staples) have the copy center trim the paper to 8 x 10 inches. Finally, your name should also be on your headshot.
Evan Gardner Photography
Evan Gardner Photography
Go Get That Headshot!
Here are people, places, and things that you should check out as you move towards your next (or first!) headshot session!
General Tips and Info
- Headshot Critique for Actors Facebook.
- Words from 2014 Backstage Readers Choice Winner.
- The Peter Hurley headshot.
- Isgo Photo
- Locally, if you only need a print or two, Costco, Staples, FedEx Kinkos, and other shops with industrial color printers usually do the trick. I suggest ordering batches of 50 from one of the shops linked above.
Wardrobe Tips and Info
Seattle Area Photographers to Check Out
Thank you very much for reading this post. I hope you learned something and have a better idea of how to nail your next Seattle headshot. If you have any questions or want to set up private coaching or come to an acting class with us, just reach out!