A Great Headshot is Essential

As an actor, you know this business requires significant versatility and creativity, and careful attention to every little detail to land excellent roles. A high-quality headshot is a must to get your acting qualities the exposure they need. A great headshot is crucial in moving on to an audition and eventually landing the acting role you know you deserve.

A headshot that meets the cut requires the focused attention to detail that directors always demand. You want to stand out from the crowd but also demonstrate you are a real professional. This means you must draw attention to your best features and strive to be different, but avoid overdoing them.

Your headshot starts your brand as an actor and your primary marketing tool in this business. Your brand begins with the headshot and is the way you get noticed for current jobs and kept in mind for future roles. Now that we have established the importance of this crucial tool let’s look at what to wear for your actor headshot to deliver results.

Here are five tips for a great actor headshot to spark interest in your acting ability.


Plan your Brand

Every important endeavor requires careful planning. For the right actor headshot concept, study your target roles and have a profile in mind for the headshot that will get you the proper exposure. Your look is yours, but you want a presentation that projects professionalism and confidence.

The casting people will have to quickly assess your headshot and determine if you have the right basic look for the next step. Ideally, agents and or casting directors will have your great headshot on file and ready for when the proper role comes along.

You want to make sure your photo sends the right message.

What are the roles you expect?

Do your profile and the brand you are trying to project align with the roles you want?

Where is the location of the photo shoot, outdoors or studio?

The lighting and other location factors require planning for this vital shot to get your appearance right.

Every detail is essential, and it starts with detailed planning. Your brand image will drive opportunities for the acting roles you have in mind. Have a plan and brand image defined as you move on to the next steps in selecting what to wear for your headshot photo.



Your Face is the Focus

actor headshot on a white background

This appears to be blatantly obvious, but the purpose of the headshot is to put your face in the middle of the frame. The shot usually starts below the shoulders, focusing on your face and eyes. Ideally, the shot is the same view and expression as an in-person meeting.

The clothing you are wearing and any accessories should not detract from the primary purpose of conveying your brand as presented by a focused view of your face.

Every detail plays a part in this act, but keep the lighting, background, and clothing, as discussed further below, in harmony with the plan.

The plan is to project a brand that projects you and begins with a focus on the core center of your look- your face.

Should you wear a smile or not? It depends somewhat on the brand. But overall, a smile demonstrates an engaging personality who works well with others. A smile can also project energy and, most importantly, confidence. These are subtle factors that can come across in a headshot. Keep your face in the frame and aligned with your brand image.



Know your Pose

actress headshot with red dress on grey background

Study the various camera angles, shadows, and exciting impressions your pose can create. Your pose position can create a profound impact you want to create with your headshot.

Rarely will a straight-level stare into the camera give you a captivating look. Avoid the “mugshot” approach and turn one shoulder towards the camera to create a slight angle of view.

However, regardless of the pose position you feel looks the best, make sure you come off as comfortable with a natural pose. Your natural pose and genuine smile can project your energy as an actor and, most importantly, your confidence to handle any role.



Grooming and Stylingdramatic actor headshot

What you wear is only one essential component of your appearance and only one element of the complete headshot. You need to look your best regarding the appearance of your hairstyle.

Are the cut and style right for your image?

Is your hairstyle aligned with the brand image you have planned for the shot?

Is your skin tone too dry or a bit oily?

Guys should pick the right shave level that meets the image target. For the most part, a clean shave is a way to go.



Dress for the Shot

well dressed actress headshot

Finally, we address the dress requirements. The key factors are the brand image planning, the essential focus, and your overall appearance, but there are some critical notes on the clothing.

The headshot does not cover your entire outfit, but every detail is essential in getting the right headshot.

  • Avoid white clothing since this will conflict with the background.
  • Consider v-neck shirts, and guys should consider a neck-tie if the image is appropriate. The idea is to emphasize and bring focus to your face.
  • Using layered clothing can help develop an image.
  • Experiment with shirt and sweater combinations that work best for you.
  • Avoid crazy patterns and colors that may distract from your face shot and muddle the brand you are going for.
  • Keep the clothing approach as simple as possible; you are the focus, not the clothing.



An actor headshot is critical to acting work. Take the time to plan and get it right. A great headshot that will help get you noticed. It is a must to stand out from the crowd, but you must consistently demonstrate you are a real professional. This means selecting the right pose, applying good grooming techniques, and simple clothing to highlight the best features.