How to Prepare for your Actor Headshot

Actor headshots are the most significant type of photography I do. Why? Because the photo needs to communicate the actor’s personality, intensity and character, all at a glance. The photos usually appear on the websites or portfolios of casting directors and talent agents. When a producer or director is looking for actors for certain roles, the photos need to stand out, and scream “pick me!” Your photo truly helps get you the job.

The type of clothing you wear to your actor headshot session makes a big difference. There are industry standards for color and style. If you vary from those standards, you run the risk of looking unprofessional or “minor league.” Here are a few guidelines for what to wear for your headshot:

  • Solid colors only, no patterns
  • All items should be in good condition and fit well
  • Long sleeved shirts only, or layer a jacket or shirt over a camisole or tank top
  • Bright, medium hued colors are best
  • No graphics or decals on t-shirts
  • V-neck style t-shirts are preferred
  • No jewelry, or only minimal jewelry
  • No ruffles, sequins or sparkles
  • No obvious buttons, zippers or trim
  • Clothes should be pressed and unwrinkled

For full body shots, make sure the clothes you bring have a flattering fit. You may look great in skinny jeans in real life, but in photographs they emphasize any bulges or creases, especially around the knees or if you have “saddlebags” at the thigh. Full body shots are supposed to show casting directors your body type. Your attire should not be too loose, too baggy or too fussy. We should be able to see your build and body structure easily. What looks good in real life often does not photograph well. Avoid the urge to bring your favorite outfits just because you like them. You should be dressing for the parts you want to be hired for.

Select your clothing well in advance of your photoshoot. Pick out the items you think work best for your character. Take pictures of them with your phone and send them to your photographer. He or she will be able to tell you right away if they will work. If you (or your character) wear glasses, ask to be photographed with and without them.

Visit my Actor Headshot gallery to see examples of head and shoulder, three-quarter and full body actor headshots. Good luck!

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Vickie Gray Images is located in the historic Mill Centre, in Baltimore’s popular Hampden neighborhood.

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