At Last, Headshot Looks

Here is the final installment on headshots, at least for now. This post is long because there is a lot to say. It is so very important to set yourself up for success with your first audition—your headshot.  Even if you are a known actor in our region, you still need to keep up with current trends and be sure that your shots really reflect who you are today.

The magic number is between 5 and 6 different headshot looks.

Shots should be mostly straight on. Craned necks and backwards shots are often awkward and not flattering.

No hands PLEASE!

Keep clothing very simple.  A headshot session is not the place to show off your favorite shirt.

No bulky sweaters or heavy scarves.

Avoid jewelry: even a pair of pearls makes a business look more like a mother-of-the-bride.

Tank tops only work for a sexy shot, so they are not very useful. I realize that they make you feel sexier, but use your acting to get there.

For both men and women, I strongly recommend hiring a hair and make-up artist.  So often, talent are convinced that they could do better themselves. There are cases where this may be true, but if you seek out someone you trust, the right make-up and hair can make all the difference in your shots.

If you do choose to do your own hair and make-up, here are a few thoughts:

Keep make-up natural.  Lip color should not be too glossy or bright. Be sure to set aside time for a shot where you add make-up for a slightly more glamorous look.  This look will be your sexy shot. No need to take a shot with no make-up.  You can get a simple look for the rough looking characters that is more effective using some other options noted below. Be sure foundation is evenly spread down the neck and blends well. No orange faces and pale necks please!

For hair, it needs to look done, but not overly styled. If hair is straight, be sure there is volume.  If hair is curly, we do not need BIG pageant hair. Always shoot for your best self. If you are unsure about what that means, then please pay to have someone provide this service.

For men, facial hair is very popular right now.  A good stubble shot or nicely trimmed beard is a good idea. If you choose to have hair longer, then realize that this will pigeon hole you for very particular roles. We want to get you as many auditions as possible.  If you make your general look this specific, you will only be limiting yourself.

Keeping finances in mind, here are some suggestions for clothing choices for a shoot with 2 to 3 looks. If money is not an issue, then you can do as many looks as you like.

LOOK 1 — Business Shot

For LOOK 1, you will get 2 usable and specific shots if you create 2 characters. 1) bad attorney who will do anything to win. 2) trust worthy principal who you trust to pick up your kid from the bus stop.

  • MEN – jacket, tie and collared shirt

You can survive with just a nice collared shirt, but the jacket and tie really complete the look.  Loosen the tie and unbutton your top button. Be sure to go with conservative colors.  Blues, grays, no loud stripes or dots on the tie. It should look classy and simple. Avoid black jackets and white shirts as they look like a waiter/waitress.

  • WOMEN – collared shirt and jacket

Shirts should be a solid color. Jackets need to be solid or very simple, a small pinstripe is ok. Casual jackets, like jean or canvas do not match with the business look.

LOOK 2 — Commercial and Teacher/Mom/Dad

For LOOK 2, you will get 2 usable and specific shots if you create 2 characters. 1) open/available, trust you with my kids 2) joyful, smiling shot, you just won the lottery/landed a series regular role.


Solid color t-shirt or collared shirt, no prints or plaids. Choose a color that compliments your coloring, maybe it brings out the color in your eyes, so they pop.

If you plan to keep your session to 2 looks, then remove the jacket from the business look and use the collared shirt.

LOOK 3 — Edgy

For LOOK 3, you will get 2-3 usable and specific shots if you create these characters: 1) dark and seedy; I do not want to meet you alone on a dark street. 2) Open/available, your best day and best self; you are very approachable. 3) Sexy shot. Bump up make-up here.


Dark t-shirt.  Grey, brown, possibly black. Round neckline is best, no need for a plunging V-neck or scoop here. Pair it with a casual jacket: leather, jean or canvas.  Keep colors to brown, greys, black, army green.

Wow, so that was a lot of information.  Hopefully, this outline will give you some specific approaches to take with your headshots. At the end of the day, we want to showcase two things in your headshots: the range of characters that you can play and the best, natural and authentic you.

And, what I say today, may not be true tomorrow.