Everything you wanted to know about Actor Headshots!

  • Actor Headshots. What are they and why do I need one?

What are they and why do I need actor headshots?

Actor headshots are a vital part of your brand. It’s about marketing yourself within the industry and an essential part of getting noticed and remembered by agents and casting professionals. It’s the first step in getting that all-important audition!

  • It’s not a ‘selfie’ or a photograph of your recent holiday in France; and it’s not been taken on a mobile phone by a mate while pulling duck face pouts… It should represent you as your best self; natural and not overly posed.
  • A headshot should be a quality photograph taken by a professional who knows how to produce an industry standard headshot that’s not going to end up in a casting director’s bin!

So, if your serious about acting, then you need to show the professionals you are too…

it’s time to go pro and get to that audition!

How often should I update my headshot?

Being current is important! You should look exactly as yourself. It’s not going to go down well with a casting professional if you turn up with a shaved head, when you had an 80’s style mullet in your headshot – especially if that was what stood out for them in the first place! Obviously casting professionals are your ‘in’ to an audition, so you don’t really want to upset your relationship with them!

While not set in stone, you should be considering an updated headshot every year, but obviously that depends on all sorts of factors. On some occasions it could be a lot sooner, for example, new hair style, beard, clean-shave, weight loss/gain, tattoos, piercings. On others it could be a few years – The important thing to remember is…

Any change in appearance = you might want to update your actor headshots!

What’s the industry standard?

While there are some subtle differences internationally, an actor’s headshot is normally represented as an 8x10Inch photograph. They can be in both landscape or vertical/portrait orientation, (with the latter being more common); and a good photographer will cover both anyway.

Previously black and white used to be the preferred format and may still be requested, however more and more agents and directors will accept colour too. Again, an experienced photographer will be able to cover both versions. Giving you options if there is a preferred or specific requirement for your agent.

How should I look?

Remember this is your visual ‘CV’ and you are showing the ‘real you’ and how you look in real life.

Your headshot is part of your ‘personal branding’ and ‘part’ of your portfolio, but it’s NOT a portfolio session. For example, you may want photographs where you’re in character, costume, or showing off a particular style or for a specific purpose; and while these are part of your ‘portfolio’ they are NOT the real you. That’s the difference. In essence it’s about the natural you.

A few tips and considerations
  • Be clean, Brush your teeth, clip your nails (even if they’re not in the shot, it’s about psychology of feeling fresh and comfortable)
  • Remove all piercings. Unless this is appropriate or specific for your casting genre (you go for particular types of roles)
  • Minimise accessories – Jewellery, hats, scarves, sunglasses. Anything that distracts from your face.
  • Glasses – Yes if wear them. It’s always an idea to have some with and some without to give you options.
  • Hair neat and tidy – Remember this is the real you. Keep it as if you were just going out with friends to a nice restaurant or a job interview. Again, many photographers have stylists that can be arranged to help with this. Don’t get a haircut just before the session… Just in case you have a ‘bad hair day’
  • Don’t go out clubbing or hit the booze the night before the shoot. You won’t be at your best.
  • Get some sleep and keep hydrated.
More on Makeup
  • Yes, to makeup – For both men and women. Keep it light and natural, it’s only there to cover minor imperfections (that spot that appears on the morning of the shoot!) as well as useful for reducing skin shine/reflections.
  • Don’t over do it though! Try to hide anything permanent e.g. freckles, moles and scars. These are a part of the you (and therefore your brand).
  • Speak to your photographer as they may be able to provide a makeup artist for you.
  • Remember some ‘features’ can be retouched/Airbrushed. But remember this is about the ‘real’ you and not meant to make you look like a plastic doll!

So, what should I wear?

The important thing to remember is to be comfortable. When you’re relaxed and comfortable then the session is going to go much better and allow the ‘real you’ to shine through. So, while there are no absolutes about what you wear (I’d rather you comfortable than not at all), there are a few things that you should consider that will raise your headshot to the next level.


The neckline of what your wearing can also effect how your persona/character comes across to the agent. Crew necks (softer) and V-necks (stronger) are the most common and a good place to start from when thinking about what to wear.

However this could also depend on your body type or the casting genre your going for; so always a good idea to have a chat with your photographer before the session to help you decide what you need.

Having layers can add interest too. So bring a selection of jackets and tops that can be combined to complement and contrast each other for different looks; and with minimal changes of clothing.

  • Avoid strong bright colours. Reds and oranges are close to skin times and can distract from your face.
  • Light will reflect off strong bright colours and this can lead to unwanted colour casts on the skin. Muted pastel and earthy tones work well to prevent this.
Go for plain/neutral.
  • Blacks and whites can be great. However some agencies may advise to avoid black clothing on black background because of the potential of ‘floating head look’. However, its more about how skilled your photographer is at separating you from the background using light.
  • Neutral colours that compliment your skin tone
  • Bring a few changes of clothing to the session as this can add variety and range for you to select from.
Avoid wearing busy patterns, branding and logos.
  • Avoid Stripes, spots, plaids, vivid prints.
  • Logos of any kind and busy patterns
  • All tend to distract your eyes from a person’s face; Keep it simple. Think Smart casual or job interview.

What about airbrushing?

In the digital world nearly, all professional photographs are given some form of post processing. However, didn’t we say earlier this is about the ‘real you’?

With that in mind you can’t end up looking like a plastic doll; retouched, reshaped and photoshopped to near perfection!

While there are occasions that I would do this, it would only be for specific purposes. Such as a commercial brief or part of a digital art project. The only retouching I would be doing on a headshot would be colour correction, stray hairs and the odd blemish – While a ‘spot’ maybe ‘real’ on the day of the shoot it’s not a permanent feature… it’s not the ‘real’ you.

Where is the best place for my headshots?

In its simplest terms you are looking at a studio or on-location; and either can work well.

  • A studio session can be more controlled from a lighting perspective.
  • The photographer can setup their equipment that suits your needs.
  • It’s not effected by the weather.
  • Most good photographers would have discussed, what you need before the session and have a variety of backgrounds and options.
  • Somewhere to change.
  • Size Doesn’t matter – I’ve seen photographers tell clients about their large luxury studios that are perfect for headshots. Nonsense! You can do brilliant headshots in the corner of a room, if you know what you’re doing with light and reflectors!
  • So, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with having your headshots on location there are going to be a few extra considerations.
  • Controlled lighting vs Natural light -Neither right or wrong but make sure your photographer has the ability to work with both.
  • Weather – We live in the UK… nuff said!
  • What’s important? The location or your headshots?
  • It maybe great having your headshot in a park, but many actually have commercial photography license requirements; therefore, additional costs to the session
  • Shooting on grass – Believe it or not but this can throw a green colour casts on faces
What about both?

I have a very small studio that’s very close to public land (no need for permits) So how about have some in the studio and some outside for variety? Not many photographers with a studio has this option!

Don’t be late!

Don’t worry, I’m not being a stickler for punctuality! Just remember to allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the session. Not only will you be less flustered (less stress equals better headshots!) but you will be keeping your photographer on schedule! 😉

Paramount personality!

Look for and work with a photographer that gets you!

It’s important to find a common ground that will help you relax and bring out your personality. Don’t go to a shoot thinking “This is just something I have to do” It’s a proven fact in the modern world – People do business with people they like! The same goes for your headshots.

Have fun, let your personality shine through. A good photographer will spend a little time before you even start and give you some time to settle into the experience. If you’re nervous that’s fine too – A good photographer is going to know this and coach you.

In Summary your headshot needs to be

  • Your head and shoulders
  • Professional
  • Current and true likeness
  • Clean minimal background
  • Minimal retouching
  • Facing the camera
  • Have some in Colour and Black and White and both Portrait and Landscape (Some agencies may require specific standards) 10x8Inch


“I had a relaxed and fun personal branding shoot with Graham in Bexley which I am using for my website, social media accounts and business cards. This is the second time I have used Graham’s services and I won’t think of looking elsewhere. Graham is trustworthy , efficient and provides a high quality tailored service and I continue to recommend him to all my associates.”

“Over the years I have worked with many photographers, yet Graham is exceptional!! Truly professional with great results and effective editing. As a performer i know how stressful headshot sessions can be but with Graham it was a breeze, I was put at ease and I in fact learnt a lot during the session. He was patient with constructive advice. But every bit professional! I can see now why he’s always so busy!”

Claire Walmsley

“Being a therapist I wanted  to show both the therapy & business side in my photos.Graham created a professional but fun experience. He put both me and my client at ease and was very discrete when taking pictures of the therapy session.The session was tailored to my needs and he listened to what I needed. It was a truly personal experience and a valued investment. It was very hard to choose from the photographs taken but my head shot says everything I wanted to convey. I Would recommend Graham to any other therapists or anyone wanting great photos & a professional experience x”

“Thank you very much for a most enjoyable and relaxed shoot. You made me feel very comfortable and interpreted my views and thoughts very well especially as you knew I was not comfortable in front of camera. I also learnt a lot too about how to get more out of shoot and better ways to stand pose etc. The two samples you sent me are fantastic really captured the feel of what I was looking for! wow!”

“Graham produced all of my Actors headshots and produced all of the posters for my current Film project. He did a fantastic job and look forward to using him again next time.”

Chris Bell

“Absolutely fantastic results! Graham’s pictures were perfect and if I’m being honest, better than any results I’ve had before. They were so good that I’ve actually written a review about how good they were and I’ve never done that before! Use him now before he becomes a world famous photographer!”

Keith Malda

“Thank you Graham for an enjoyable day on Saturday! Graham is very approachable and makes you feel very comfortable in front the camera. He is very professional and is a great photographer! Looking forward to seeing the rest of the photos from Saturday! The couple I have seen are great and I am very pleased with them. Thanks again Graham your Fab! “

“I contacted Graham to do a photoshoot for a singing project and he discussed with me what i was looking for and gave me advice on what kind of shots would look good. We met up and he immediately put me at ease about what the day would consist of. I didn’t feel at all nervous and he made the whole thing go so smoothly and professionally. Graham has a very warm and witty personality and this makes for such an easy working relationship as he constantly puts you at ease and makes you laugh. He is a very talented photographer and i was very impressed with the photos he took of me and i will definitely use him again!”

“I recently booked Graham to do a shoot to capture some of my work applying makeup and to add to my portfolio of work as a Makeup Artist. The photo’s really are amazing, and I would highly recommend booking Graham for any shoot.”

“When I started setting up my own coaching business, I realised that I would need to have my photo on my website and social media. Only one problem: I HATE having my photo taken! But Graham instantly put me at ease, helped me to relax in front of the camera and made sure that I was happy with the pictures. He was professional and friendly throughout, and even made it an enjoyable experience. I am so pleased with the resulting photographs. I hope you like them too!”

“I used Graham a few years ago for my jewellery portfolio and still to this day I get compliments / bookings and orders based on his photos. DIY mobile phone pics are OK but nothing like a professional photograph… a professional service with a smile and good banter. Would definitely use Graham again, worth every penny!”

“Grahams accuracy and attention to detail contributed to the brilliant photo’s I now have on my web page. Punctual, professional and perfect!”


“When I started setting up my own coaching business, I realised that I would need to have my photo on my website and social media. Only one problem: I HATE having my photo taken! But Graham instantly put me at ease, helped me to relax in front of the camera and made sure that I was happy with the pictures. He was professional and friendly throughout, and even made it an enjoyable experience. I am so pleased with the resulting photographs. I hope you like them too!”

Highly recommend Graham. Delivers absolute professionalism and knows how to get the best shots. I needed some headshots for my website and Graham has come up trumps. Captures the mood perfectly, knows how to put clients at ease, even for the most camera shy! Working with Graham is like talking to an old friend yet still professional. Don’t go anywhere else! What are you waiting for? Just book in”

Kickstart Wellbeing 

“I own a clothes boutique and have used Graham for promotional events and shoots to model the clothing for my website. He is a fantastic photographer and a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend him.”

Styled by Tala

“I needed to have some headshots produced for my 14 year old niece for her acting portfolio. I was really impressed with the way Graham works and how he put my niece at ease throughout the whole shoot so much that she really enjoyed the experience of being photographed. The session was good value for money and we now have plenty of photos to choose from and this is the hard part as all the photos are stunning. Each photo speaks a thousand words and captures her perfectly which is exactly what you need for a portfolio as you are competing with other young actors. We will be using Graham again and I will be recommending him to others.”

“Graham is a very reliable, hard-working and attentive photographer. He manages to always provide what you need with your photoshoots. With extreme professionalism and dynamic actions, Graham Baker Photography is highly recommended in this area.”

“Graham was amazing this was my first ever photo shoot for my online profile as i have just been signed with tma modeling agency . At first i was very nervous but he reassured me and went through step by step on what would be happening which put me at ease he spent alot of time making sure we had everything i needed for my profile such as different looks , lighting , clothing changes, head shots , 3/4 and full length he was so professional throughout and i honestly will be using and recommending for future thank you so much for such an amazing and fun day loved every minute of it”

“I had the pleasure to work with Graham on a fashion shoot recently and had a brilliant experience being on the set. Graham has an amazing understanding and experience in lighting and positioning! He creates a very easy, friendly and relaxing atmosphere for all involved! Great to work with! Fantastic results!”

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