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5 Tips for Successful Acting Headshots

(4min read) In this article you will find the 5 most important tips for an actor to have a successful photo shoot.

Photo : Guillaume Marbeck, (crédit Lisa Lesourd)

Before you start, you should know that a photo shoot is a unique moment. The result depends as much on the photographer you choose as on your personality, on your emotional and professional life. But also and above all the preparation that you will have been able to do for your session!

Prepare your session, yes, but why?

Before your name, your CV, your demo tape they will want to see you in picture.

If you had to go to a casting, a spinning / rehearsal or even an interview ... Would you prepare? If the answer is no, has it worked for you? If the answer is yes, then why not prepare for your photoshoot? After all, your portfolio is what will get you castings, rehearsals or interviews. Your portfolio is the first thing a casting director will see. Before your name, your CV, your demo tape they will want to see you in picture. And this photo should stand out among the hundreds of other candidates. So ready to prepare?

1. Have a clear goal

What do you want to do ? Ad ? Play in the cinema? On the television ? To play in theaters? Posing for fashion? Become a tap dancer? To be a solo musical virtuoso? All 7 at the same time? As an artist, the options are wide! And it requires knowing what we need to take pictures for. So before anything else ask yourself this simple question:

What exactly will my photos be used for?

Of course, your photos can serve you in many other ways, but they must first of all serve you professionally.

2. Choose your photographer

If you don't see a hundred different faces with good photos, you risk having surprises!

There are as many directors as there are different ways of making a film. There are as many composers as there are different ways of composing a song. There are as many actors as there are proposals for different roles. It's the same for a book.

Each photographer has his style, his way of doing things, his aesthetic, his ability to direct or not the actors. Choosing a photographer is important because it is he or she who will allow you to obtain the photos that will make you work.

Find out about his background. Are his photos found on advertising sites for actors such as La Démo du Comédien, or Are his photos on the sites of modeling agencies or actors? Do you know an actor who has worked with this photographer? What was their experience? Did their book allow them to pass castings?

Follow your artistic intuition tell yourself that the photos presented on a photographer's site are generally his best shots. So if you don't see a hundred different faces with good photos, you risk having surprises!

3. How many photos?

1000 candidatures avec à chaque fois 20 photos... Cela ferait 20.000 photos a visionner ! Admettez c'est beaucoup trop !

Ask experienced actors around you, how many photos do they really need? You would be surprised! On average, an actor needs 3 photos per email to present his profile. Think of the casting director who receives 1000 applications with 20 photos each time ... That would make 20,000 photos to view! Admit it's way too much! At 3 photos per email, it still makes 3000 photos for 1 casting. It's a lot, but it's doable. After all casting director it's a real job! Put yourself in their shoes.

If a casting director is interested they will ask for more photos. Otherwise to be able to be precise with the photos you send (3 photos by email) you need ten photos with different expressions and different outfits. There is no point in having the same photo ten times. This will allow you to adapt your application to each casting.

4. How to dress?

How about looking at the photos on the profiles of the big agencies? Check out UBBA, Time Art, Adéquat, Artmedia. I would not like to say but it is their job. If they chose these photos for their actors it is because they have very good reasons ... Maybe even better than your friend "who knows how it works"?

What are the clothes that highlight them the most? Those who let us appreciate their faces the most?

Identify 10 competing players by analyzing the following points of comparison:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Skin color

  • Hair color

  • Eye color

  • Body size

  • Face type

  • Hairstyle

  • Hairiness

  • Make-up

With this list you will already have a good basis for comparison. Now check what clothes these people are wearing? What are the clothes that highlight them the most? Those who let us appreciate their faces the most?

Take notes, spot trends and decide whether or not to follow them. But if you decide to dress in neon green don't complain that your photos don't work. If you have nothing in your wardrobe that matches, buy your basics at Uniqlo or Muji for example, you will always need a white or black t-shirt at 5 € well cut. After all, how much is your photoshoot costing you?

5. Make-up ?

Soyez fier de vos petites différences ce sont vos atouts qui permettrons de faire la différence, c'est le principe d'une différence non?

Again look at the trends of the profiles you have selected. Usually in the casting photos, the actors wear very little make-up, male or female. Women wear more makeup than men; they can use mascara, a discreet lipstick, a more elaborate complexion. Be careful, skins with freckles, for example, use very little makeup, this is an asset not to be masked!

Observe all the face imperfections that are in the photos. Smooth rendering will not help you get cast. It is your personality and your ability to be a special human that will help you stand out. So be proud of your small differences, it's your strengths that will make the difference, it's the principle of a difference, right?

Ask your photographer if he has a professional makeup artist who could do your makeup. And when you are entitled to your professional makeup, trust and don't think about the makeup you want but the one you need for your casting photos. You will have plenty of time for diva star makeup when you go up the steps!


Determine what your photos will be used for and choose a photographer who will get photos that will make you work. Select various photos and identify the 3 photos that you will send 80% of the time and ask your photographer to take these three photos. Find 10 competitors already established in the most prestigious agencies, analyze their photos and make your choices accordingly.

If this article was helpful to you, please comment or share it with someone who needs this advice. These articles take a lot of my time and I would love to see that I was able to help you! Thank you for reading this article !


Guillaume Marbeck

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