Perfecting your headshot

By kirsty harragan - 31/10/2019

Perfecting your headshot

As you start completing your performing arts course you will need to start preparing your headshots.

This will be the photo you send out to hundreds of directors/agents and is the very first thing that a director will look at when going through submissions; if you look bad in your headshot, you will look bad as a candidate.

Casting directors will see hundreds of these daily, so you must put a lot of time and consideration into your headshot, as even a weak application can be improved with an exceptional headshot.

Luckily for you, we’ve made a list of everything you need to get the perfect headshot:

1) Keep your headshot up to date 

One of the most important things to remember when picking your headshot is that it must be recent and must look exactly like you. Directors may be looking for someone specific, so although you need a recent photo, it could be good to have a few different looks in one photoshoot. This also means, whenever you change your looks in any way, you must also change your headshot. 

2) Focus on your eyes

Nothing is more important than your eyes, especially in a close-up shot like a headshot. They should look alive and energised like they’re telling a story. This will help you to stand out in the pile of headshots, and immediately get the director’s attention. Even if your facial expression is serious, make sure your eyes are focussed, and not zoned out – a director will be able to tell!

3) Angles

A good headshot is, usually, chest-upwards, with your chin slightly tilted upwards. You should have good lighting on your face and think carefully about shadows, as they can add depth and definition to a photo. Make eye contact with the camera and ensure the centre of your eyes is the focus of the shot.

4) Wear minimal makeup and a natural hairstyle

Your headshot is not about looking pretty – it’s about showing off what you look like, how old you are and everything in between, even things you may be insecure about. Keep your makeup natural so it doesn’t look ‘cakey’ in your photos and wear your hair naturally (the way you would wear it to an audition) but make sure it is not covering your face. 

5) Be careful with your background

A plain white background is safe and allows the director to look at your face, but you should experiment with neutral backgrounds, shading and natural backgrounds, like greenery. Think of colours that would contrast well with you, e.g. if your hair is black, you may want to avoid having a black background. 

6) Colour

Usually, you can apply with either a coloured or black and white headshot (unless specified otherwise) but some people find black and white outdated and prefer a headshot in colour. The best option would be to have both ready, and if allowed, send both to the company you’re applying for. 

7) Clothing

Avoid bright clothing, bold prints or logos on your clothes; blacks and greys work well as these are not distracting colours. Ensure your clothing fits you well and looks (somewhat) professional.

8) Practise

The more you practise, the better your headshot will look. Take practise shots at home on your phone and practise your pose/expressions in the mirror. The more you do it, the more you can focus on what needs changing and eventually, you will have mastered the shot. 

9) Go professional

Your headshot will be a deciding factor in your application so getting it done professionally is worth it. If your photos look cheap, you may appear to be uninterested about your career. Avoid taking it on your phone camera and pay the money to get it done professionally… it’ll be worth it!

10) Contact Spotlight

Spotlight publish the Contact Handbook and getting your headshot and details put into the system is essential! You will be able to connect with agents, actors, casting professionals and anyone in the entertainment industry.  




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