How to Get a Headshot for Your Acting Career

A head shot is a 10 x 8 (inches) or similar sized portrait. It commonly has a person’s head & shoulders, and focuses on the face. The head shots that include a person’s shoulders are called ‘three quarter’ shots.

A 10 x 8 head shot is a business card for actors or entertainers and is presented to casting directors who decide whether a person’s look is right for the particular role.

In the UK actors head shots are traditionally black and white, whereas in the US they are often in color. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your photographer knows what market the actor intends to present their head shots to.


  1. Image titled Get a Headshot for Your Acting Career Step 1
    Arrange to have your head shot show you as you as you are (age, look, style, etc.) and reflect your best qualities. It should be natural and reflect a person’s current look. For example, if you cut and color your hair, you should then get a new head shot.
  2. Image titled Get a Headshot for Your Acting Career Step 2
    Wear simple neutral colored (usually black or white) clothing that does not contain prints. The focus and attention should be emphasized on the face and not the t-shirt with imprinted flowers or palm trees or logos.
  3. Image titled Get a Headshot for Your Acting Career Step 3
    Be sure your head shot will invite the viewer in and make them want to know a person better. It should also provide a glimpse into the person’s character or present their potential for the role a casting director is looking to fill. It is the only thing casting director is judging you by and there is no second chance. The type of roles/positions that a casting director might be wanting to fill are:
    • Commercial – typically (not always) has the person smiling and projects warmth and friendliness.
    • Theatrical – usually serious, focused and actors are NOT smiling.
  4. Image titled Get a Headshot for Your Acting Career Step 4
    Choose a photographer. Many photographers offer different service packages that may include make-up, hair styling, an option of costume changes, variations on hours and number of photographs taken. Some photographers also offer cheaper sessions because they shoot from home and do not have large overheads from hiring studios. It is up to an actor to decide which option is the most appropriate for them. Make sure that it is safe and professional.
    • Always look at photographer’s portfolio (online or a hard copy) to determine if their style of head shots photography is right for them.
  5. Image titled Get a Headshot for Your Acting Career Step 5
    Sleep well the night before the shoot. You will look far more refreshed , awake and your eyes will look bigger and brighter when you've had a good nights sleep. The more energetic and positive-minded you are, the more likely your expression will captivate.
    • To get good sleep: Beginning a week before your audition, establish a good sleeping schedule. Stay busy during the day to facilitate better rest at night. Consume hot beverages before bedtime and listen to soothing music.

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Categories: Fashion and Entertainment