Day 248. A Guide to Headshots

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hollywood is a place where actors take a variety of routes to success, but there are a few things you need to be on top of to be successful here. Maybe the most important thing you need in Hollywood is a great headshot. You need one for every audition, for every agent, and every connection you make. A headshot is your first impression. Casting directors are tearing through a lot of headshots and you need yours to stand out and communicate what you want it to. So, I decided I would make a guide for good headshots with some I took today.

Official Guide to Headshots

You want to have a good commercial looking shot for commercials, a dramatic shot, and one that shows some personality so you have choices for different situations. Here are mine.





You want to show a glimpse of your personality in your headshot, you’re not smiling for a class picture in school.

However, if your personality says, “I like to watch you sleep,” just skip the personality part.

You want to look friendly in your headshot, but you can smile too much and give the impression that you are the type of guy that collects vintage dolls and giggles too much.

A slight trick that will often be used is to be looking slightly upward to the camera. For most people this is their most becoming look. It helps to accentuate the eyes. Imagine that you are sitting at a party and are looking up, pleasantly surprised to see a good friend (the camera) walking towards you with a piece of cake.

Not so much that you are sitting at a party and are looking up, completely surprised to see your ex running towards you with a knife.

A headshot should be focused on you. There shouldn’t be too much background action. In fact, a headshot doesn’t even have to show your entire head. Maybe it just shows a scar you got on the bridge of your nose when you hit a ceiling beam while violently moving in your sleep twelve years ago on a bunk bed.

Take a picture that represents what type of role you think would be a good fit for you. Say you want to be an action star, don’t hold a gun in the photo, props looks unprofessional and cheesy. If you want to be an action star,  just shape your hand into a gun and have an intimidating look.

Maybe it’s your photo shoot day and you woke up with some blemishes. That’s okay, remember you can photoshop little blemishes out after the picture is done. Leave this in the hands of professionals, they’re detailed oriented, you won’t even be able to tell that anything was done to the picture.

This one may be the most important. For the love of God, get a picture in front of an old brick wall! This is Headshots 101, you have to have a picture in front of an old brick wall. The older the better, the more abandoned the better. Make people wonder if you were sitting on a rat, or a hypodermic needle when your picture was taken. Scientists don’t know why it is true, but everyone looks better in front of an old brick wall.

Everyone knows that sex sells in Hollywood. Don’t be over the top in your headshots, but feel free to be sultry. Everyone has a sultry side. There are two keys to being sultry. One, shadows. Two, squintiness. Do those and you have achieved sultriness and/or sleepiness.

Lastly, perhaps the most important thing that casting directors mention when evaluating headshots is how important it is that the headshot looks like the person. The person that they select from the headshot should look like the person that walks into the audition room. Your headshot should look like you! Be proud! Don’t try to be anyone else! You are you, and you may have exactly the look they are looking for.


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Filed under Acting, Funny, Hollywood Life, Lists

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