Create Professional Acting Headshots: Essential Tips and Techniques
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


Choose the Right Photographer

Prepare for the Shoot

During the Photoshoot

Selecting the Best Acting Headshots

Optimizing Your Acting Headshots

Creating professional acting headshots is a critical step in launching a successful acting career. A great headshot can make all the difference in catching the eye of a casting director, so it's important to invest time and effort into getting it right. In this blog, we'll explore essential tips and techniques for creating the perfect acting headshots, from choosing the right photographer to optimizing your final images.

Choose the Right Photographer

First and foremost, finding the right photographer is key to creating amazing acting headshots. You'll want to work with someone who not only has experience in the field but also understands your specific needs and goals. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect photographer for your headshots.

Research Photographers

Start by doing some research on photographers in your area who specialize in acting headshots. You can ask fellow actors for recommendations or look for online reviews. Keep in mind that a great photographer for one person may not be the best fit for you, so it's important to find someone who aligns with your style and vision. What kind of vibe do you want your headshots to have? Are you looking for something more traditional or a little edgy? Knowing what you want will help you narrow down your options.

Check Portfolio

Before you commit to working with a photographer, be sure to check their portfolio. This will give you a sense of their style, as well as the quality of their work. Look for a variety of shots that showcase different emotions, lighting, and poses. Do the images look natural and authentic, or overly posed and edited? Trust your instincts— if you find yourself drawn to a particular photographer's work, they might be the right choice for your acting headshots.

Discuss Your Goals

Once you've narrowed down your options, reach out to the photographers you're considering and discuss your goals for your acting headshots. Be honest about your expectations and what you're looking to achieve with your headshots. A good photographer will be able to guide you through the process and offer advice on how to get the best results. Additionally, don't be afraid to ask questions! This is your opportunity to ensure that you're on the same page with your photographer and that they understand your vision.

Ultimately, the right photographer will make you feel comfortable and confident, which will result in better acting headshots. Take your time to find the perfect fit, and you'll be well on your way to creating headshots that showcase your unique talent and personality.

Prepare for the Shoot

Now that you've found the perfect photographer for your acting headshots, it's time to get ready for the big day. Preparation is key to ensuring a smooth, successful photoshoot. Let's dive into some important steps to help you look and feel your best on the day of the shoot.

Select Wardrobe

When it comes to wardrobe, simplicity is key. Opt for solid colors that complement your skin tone, and avoid busy patterns or logos that can be distracting. Consider the following tips when selecting your wardrobe:

  • Choose clothing that fits well and makes you feel comfortable and confident.
  • Bring a few different options, including both casual and more formal attire.
  • Keep accessories minimal, as they can draw attention away from your face.

Remember, your acting headshots should showcase you, not your clothes. So, make sure your wardrobe choices reflect your personality and style, without overshadowing your most important asset: your face.

Grooming and Makeup

When it comes to grooming and makeup for your acting headshots, the goal is to enhance your natural features without going overboard. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Hair: Make sure your hair is clean and well-styled. If you have a specific look in mind, practice styling it beforehand or consider hiring a professional hairstylist.
  • Makeup: Keep your makeup clean and natural. Stick to neutral shades, and avoid heavy foundation or overly bold colors. If you're not confident in your makeup skills, consider hiring a professional makeup artist.
  • Facial hair: For men, trim and groom any facial hair for a polished look.

By taking the time to properly groom and apply makeup, you'll ensure that you look your best and feel more confident during your photoshoot.

Practice Expressions

Acting headshots are all about capturing your unique personality and range of emotions. To make the most of your photoshoot, practice different expressions in front of a mirror beforehand. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Smile with and without showing your teeth.
  • Experiment with various emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and surprise.
  • Try different degrees of intensity in your expressions, from subtle to more dramatic.

By practicing these expressions, you'll feel more comfortable and confident in front of the camera — which will lead to more authentic and engaging acting headshots.

With your wardrobe, grooming, and expressions ready to go, you'll be well-prepared for a successful photoshoot. But don't forget, the photoshoot itself is an important part of the process, so let's discuss some tips for making the most of your time in front of the camera.

During the Photoshoot

You've done your homework and prepared for your acting headshots photoshoot, and now it's time to step in front of the camera! This is your moment to shine, so let's talk about some key strategies to help you make the most of your time during the photoshoot.

Communicate with Photographer

First and foremost, it's important to maintain open communication with your photographer throughout the shoot. Share your goals, preferences, and any concerns you may have. This will help them understand your vision and create the best acting headshots possible. For example:

  • Discuss the types of roles you're aiming for, so your photographer can help tailor your shots accordingly.
  • If you have any insecurities or angles you're not comfortable with, let them know! They'll appreciate your honesty and adapt to make you feel at ease.

Remember, your photographer is your ally in this process — so don't be afraid to speak up and collaborate with them to achieve the best results.

Experiment with Poses

While you may have practiced your expressions, it's also essential to experiment with different poses during your acting headshots photoshoot. Here are some tips to help you strike the perfect pose:

  • Start with a natural, relaxed pose and then adjust as needed. Your photographer will likely guide you through this process.
  • Don't be afraid to try new angles and positions, even if they feel a bit awkward — sometimes the most unexpected poses can create the most dynamic shots.
  • Maintain good posture and body language, as this can make a significant difference in both your confidence and the overall quality of your headshots.

By being open to experimentation and trusting your photographer's guidance, you'll increase your chances of capturing a variety of captivating acting headshots.

Capture Varied Emotions

As an actor, your emotional range is one of your greatest assets. Showcasing this range in your acting headshots can help casting directors see your potential for various roles. To do this, consider the following:

  • Think about the characters or emotions you want to portray, and imagine yourself in those situations. This can help bring authenticity to your expressions.
  • Don't be afraid to go big! While subtlety is important, sometimes a more dramatic expression can really make a headshot stand out.

By capturing a variety of emotions in your acting headshots, you'll give casting directors a glimpse into your versatility as an actor.

With these tips in mind, you'll be well-equipped to make the most of your photoshoot experience. But the work doesn't end there — once you have your photos, it's time to select and optimize the best shots for your portfolio.

Selecting the Best Acting Headshots

Now that you've completed your photoshoot, it's time to sift through the images and select the best acting headshots for your portfolio. This process can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can make informed decisions that showcase your talent and increase your chances of landing roles. Let's dive into some key factors to consider when selecting your acting headshots.

Look for Authenticity

Authenticity is the key to a captivating acting headshot. When reviewing your photos, look for images that genuinely represent you and your personality. Keep these points in mind:

  • Choose shots that showcase your natural expressions, avoiding any that seem forced or overly posed.
  • Ensure your chosen headshots reflect your current appearance, so casting directors won't be surprised when you walk into an audition.

By selecting authentic acting headshots, you'll create a strong first impression that helps casting directors visualize you in a variety of roles.

Consider Lighting and Composition

How a photo is lit and composed plays a significant role in its overall impact. When selecting your acting headshots, pay attention to these aspects:

  • Look for images with even, flattering lighting that highlights your features and avoids harsh shadows.
  • Ensure your face is the focal point of the headshot, with minimal distractions in the background or foreground.

By prioritizing lighting and composition, you'll choose acting headshots that not only showcase your talent but also demonstrate professionalism and attention to detail.

Get Feedback

It's always helpful to get a second (or third) opinion when selecting your acting headshots. Here's how:

  • Ask friends, family, or fellow actors for their input, as they might see something you missed or offer a fresh perspective.
  • Consult with your agent or acting coach, if you have one, as they'll have industry-specific insights to guide your decision-making process.

By gathering feedback, you'll ensure that your chosen acting headshots resonate with others and accurately represent your unique qualities as an actor.

With your top acting headshots selected, it's time to put the finishing touches on them and make sure they're ready to impress. In the next section, we'll discuss how to optimize your headshots for maximum impact.

Optimizing Your Acting Headshots

Congratulations on selecting your best acting headshots! Now it's time to optimize them for maximum impact. In this section, we'll cover retouching, proper formatting, and including contact information to ensure your headshots stand out and make a lasting impression.


While it's essential to keep your acting headshots authentic, a little retouching can go a long way in presenting the best version of yourself. Here are some tips for retouching your headshots:

  • Less is more: Aim for subtle enhancements that maintain your natural appearance, such as removing blemishes, stray hairs, or minor wrinkles.
  • Stay true to yourself: Avoid making drastic changes to your physical features or altering your appearance beyond recognition.

Remember, the goal is to polish your headshots without compromising your authenticity. If you're unsure about retouching, consider consulting a professional retoucher or photographer for guidance.

Proper Formatting

Formatting your acting headshots correctly is crucial for ensuring they display well across various platforms and devices. Here's what you need to do:

  • File type: Save your headshots in a high-quality JPEG format, as it's widely accepted and retains good image quality with smaller file sizes.
  • Resolution: Aim for a resolution of at least 300dpi (dots per inch) to ensure your headshots look sharp and professional when printed or viewed on high-resolution screens.

Properly formatted acting headshots not only demonstrate professionalism but also help casting directors focus on your talent without being distracted by pixelated or low-quality images.

Include Contact Information

Last but not least, don't forget to include your contact information on your acting headshots. Here's what you should add:

  • Your name: Clearly display your name on the front of your headshot, so casting directors can quickly identify you.
  • Contact details: Add your phone number, email address, or your agent's contact information on the back of your printed headshots or in the file name of your digital headshots.

Including your contact information makes it easy for casting directors to reach out to you or your agent—increasing your chances of landing roles.

By optimizing your acting headshots, you'll ensure they make a powerful impact and showcase your talent to casting directors. Remember, a great headshot can be the key to unlocking new acting opportunities. So, take the time to get it right and watch your acting career soar!

If you've found our tips on creating professional acting headshots helpful, you'll definitely want to explore Jessy Moussallem's workshop, 'Breaking Into Acting: 9 Tips for Aspiring Actors'. This workshop offers valuable advice and guidance for those looking to break into the acting industry, and will help you make the most of your headshots and other essential tools for success.