10 Essential Tips for a First Time Actor’s Headshot Shoot

Having a good headshot is the perfect first impression for a new actor. Read more about how to ensure you’re taking the best shots possible at your first shoot.

Charles Tumiotto Jackson
Apr 19 · 7 min read
Image provided by author

As a new actor and talent in NYC, you have a lot of competition. You know just how amazing your acting skills are, but before you can show them off to casting directors, you must first make an amazing first impression. How can you do this?

Taking a beautiful headshot, ideal for your acting career, is going to be the best way to grab everyone’s attention. A headshot is an image from the mid-chest and up. You’ll want to look your best the day you take your headshot, so it’s never a bad idea to have hair and makeup done if desired.

Why are looks so important for actors’ headshots? This picture of you will be on your casting profile and will be the first thing managers and agents will see when deciding on who to call for the job. How can you take the best organic headshots possible?

In the guide below, there are several tips for taking amazing headshots in NYC. Continue reading below to find out more.

1. Portray Your Character

Are you auditioning for a specific character or role? Consider portraying this character in your headshot. Do you have a certain niche of character that you like to play?

If so, then you can show characteristics of your niche through your headshot. For example, if you love playing the role of villains, then your headshot should show this side of you. A manager or agent looking for someone to play the role of a villain might pick up your headshot and know you’d be perfect for it!

If you’re still unsure about the type of character you want to play or enjoy playing a variety of roles, then feel free to be yourself.

2. Choose the Right Background

The background of your headshot is an essential part of the process. Choosing the right background requires attention to detail. The background used for your headshot should compliment your outfit, hair color, skin color, and even your eye color.

You don’t want the background to take away from what’s most important, which is you. It should, however, give the photo some depth. You want to stand out from the rest but still look professional.

All of these factors should be taken into consideration before deciding on a background color. Thankfully, when working with a professional photographer, they’ll help you select the ideal background color.

3. Don’t Confuse It With a Selfie

You most likely have a few photos of yourself in your phone or on a camera of mid-chest and up. You might take some of these photos yourself or have had friends take a couple for you. Although these selfie pictures display the type of photo needed for a headshot, don’t get the two confused.

As amazing as you look in your selfies, these are not professional headshots and shouldn’t be used as such. Photos taken on a cellphone camera are not of the same quality as those taken with a professional one. The lens on a cellphone camera can distort the face and produces an image not as clear as one taken with a professional lens.

The importance of good headshots cannot be stressed enough. If you want to be taken seriously, then it’s best to have professional headshots done.

4. Show Your Personality

It’s a great idea to show your personality in your headshot. As mentioned before, if there’s a specific niche you like, then you can portray that in your photo. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to show your personality.

Once you know what you want to portray in your headshot, be sure to communicate this with the photographer. They’ll then be able to help you reach this goal.

Your headshot is the perfect way to show managers and agents who you are. Think about your personality. Are you shy, serious, silly, or loud?

How can you show off all these personality traits in one photo? Be yourself and have fun. As long as you do these two things, the right role will find you.

5. Dress the Part

Dressing the part for your headshot photo doesn’t mean dressing up as your favorite character. What it means is dressing correctly for a headshot shoot. When getting dressed before your photoshoot, think simple.

A simple, solid color shirt is best. Make sure the shirt fits you well and highlights your eyes, skin tone, and hair color. Stay natural and avoid dressing too formally.

You should also avoid graphic tees or shirts with any type of writing on them. You don’t want to take away from your beautiful face.

If you have any uncertainties about what to wear, then don’t hesitate to speak with the photographer about your concerns. The photographer will help with a color suggestion if needed.

6. Smile If It Suits You

Are you wondering if you should smile in your headshot? One of the benefits of getting headshots is that everyone wants you to be yourself. If smiling is a part of who you are and helps show off your personality, then do so without regret.

If you’re more of a serious person, then a smile might not suit you. What you don’t want to do is force a smile on the camera. Unfortunately, it’ll be noticeable if you forced it.

Instead, only smile if it happens organically, and be sure to keep all face muscles relaxed.

7. Relax, Get Comfortable, and Pose

Are you wondering how to feel comfortable during a shoot? Sometimes, the only way to start feeling fully comfortable is to practice. Once you’ve taken several headshots or have done a few different photoshoots, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

Once you start feeling more comfortable, it’ll show in your photos as well. It’s also good to find a photographer you like and then continue to build a relationship with them. The more you work with them, the more comfortable you’ll become.

It’s normal to feel a bit nervous during your first shoot, so try your best to relax, get comfortable, and pose. Although you want to be comfortable, you also want to pose your face and upper body for the picture. Your photographer can help guide you if needed.

Because you’ll become more comfortable as time passes during the shoot, headshot photoshoots generally last about one hour to help the actor adjust to their surroundings and become more comfortable.

8. Practice in the Mirror

If you don’t have the option to practice in front of a camera before your shoot, then you can practice in front of a mirror instead. Use the mirror to work on your facial expressions and body placement. You can practice a few different faces until you find one you like best.

When it comes time to take your pictures, you’ll know exactly how to position yourself and how to adjust your facial expression. You can also do some research about different headshot poses to give you a few examples.

9. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Preparing for a photoshoot can be stressful. You’re worried about how you look, if you’re wearing the right clothes, and much more. Although there are many factors that you can control, there are also some things you cannot.

For example, are you worried about something in your teeth, waking up to acne, or a hair out of place? Some of these things are inevitable. Being completely perfect every day isn’t always possible.

Instead of stressing out over these small things, relax and remember not to sweat the small stuff. What can you do if something isn’t exactly how you planned it? Ask your photographer to do some editing on your photos.

They’ll most likely already plan to do so. Although you don’t want to change your unique look or look totally different from your real self, a few simple and small edits to remove things like a fly-away hair or some acne on your face are acceptable. With the touch of a few buttons, your photographer can remove these flaws without changing your look.

10. Have a Professional Take It

One of the last headshot tips to take seriously is to have a professional photographer take the photos for you. It may be tempting to shoot a couple of timed shots yourself, and as great as your phone camera is, nothing can compare to a professional photographer.

Professional photographers with experience taking headshots for actors in NYC will know how to properly edit your photos for you and adjust the lighting and all other settings for that perfect shot. They’ll also know which background color to choose and can help guide you throughout the shoot.

If you’re unsure how to pose or how to smile, then they’ll be there to help you throughout the process. How can you find a reputable photographer?

You can complete some research online to find photographers in your area. Look up reviews and also ask around for references. If you know other people in the acting business, then chances are they’ve worked with photographers in the past.

Are You Ready to Take the Perfect Headshot?

With all of this wonderful information in mind, you should now feel confident in taking the best headshot photo you can! With a great photographer on your side, you should have no problem getting the right pose, facial expression, and more. Be sure to speak with your photographer and let them know about your niche, character role, and any other important details.

Are you ready to get started? Book now with a professional headshot photographer to get started!

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Charles Tumiotto Jackson

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Content Marketer, willing to put the “social” back in Social Media. Let's talk about Social Media Marketing → charlestumiottojackson.com

The Shadow

We publish inspiring stories about different topics for a productive and entertaining life

Charles Tumiotto Jackson

Written by

Content Marketer, willing to put the “social” back in Social Media. Let's talk about Social Media Marketing → charlestumiottojackson.com

The Shadow

We publish inspiring stories about different topics for a productive and entertaining life

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