8 Professional Headshot Tips That Will Take You There

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At its most simplest of terms, the headshot mainly focuses on the subject’s face. Seems pretty cut and dry and an easy assignment for any decent photographer. After all, you are just taking a picture of someone’s head and maybe a bit of shoulders, right? So, who may need professional headshot tips nowadays?

Well, it really is not that simple. If it were, casting directors would not come across so many bad headshots. A headshot is a critical piece of any actor’s career tool kit. In fact, a professional and dynamic headshot can be the difference between getting a gig or being passed over. So how do you get that perfect headshot? This article will give you some professional headshot tips as well as things to avoid when trying to attain that perfect picture.

professional headshot tips

8 Professional Headshot Tips You Should Consider

1. Let Your Eyes Do the Talking

How many times have you heard the saying, The eyes are the window to your soul? Well, the first of our professional headshot tips reflects that saying. There is nothing more important and with more impact than making sure that your eyes are sharply in focus.

Capturing the essence of your eyes is a great way to draw in the viewer. It helps create a strong connection that speaks volumes without actually saying a word.

2. Angles Matter

The next professional headshot tips are about the angle of the shot.

  • You will get a more delicate look that accentuates your eyes by shooting at a downward angle. Thus, this method is a good way to soften and highlight a female face.
  • On the other hand, an upward angle gives a jaw line strength. It also provides the shot an overall more powerful sort of feel. This makes it a perfect method for giving a male face a stronger presence.
  • The subjects face should always remain straight while the angle changes. We have all seen those bad photos of family or friends where they look down and the picture is taken from under their chin. There is no other word to describe it than terrible.

3. Do Your Research and Go Pro

We all know that when you are starting out it is likely that the budget is tight. It may be tempting to get a friend or family member, or even yourself, to do your headshots. However, it is important to stress that this is one area that you should not try to cut corners. This is your calling card. It represents you and can be the key to getting you gigs. If the photos are cheap, you will be able to see that in the final product.

This professional headshot tips reiterates to do the research and go through a photographer’s books to see how well they can do headshots. You do not want to pass out photos that look like senior pictures from high school. Get them professionally duplicated as well. Sure the local grocer may be able to throw 500 copies at you for next to nothing. But the paper and ink will be lower quality and can make a photo look washed out and cheap. Spend the money. That is this professional headshot tips suggestion.

photographers taking pic

4. Too Much Glitz Is a Bad Thing

A casting director’s job is to find someone to fit a part. It is not a modeling agency looking for a glamorous face. You need to represent you- wrinkles and all. How frustrating do you think it would be to a casting director who chooses you because you fit they part type they are looking for only to have you step in the room looking nothing like the headshot they saw?

Cut out all the overzealous airbrushing to make yourself look 10 years younger. It is not about looking pretty. It is about representing your type, age, and gender to fit a specific role. So go ahead and touch up that pimple on your cheek but steer clear of glamour shots. You do not want to look like you are in a boudoir shot or trying out for a sultry soap opera.

5. Remember to Update

Let’s face it, we all age, and that’s okay. All that means is that we now fit different roles. You still need to accurately represent that. Thus, it is important that you update your headshots. Next up on this list of professional headshot tips is to keep your photo updated. Any time something about your appearance changes that is substantial, you should get new headshots.

For example, you may make a dramatic change to your hair by cutting it short or changing the color dramatically. You may have lost or gained a noticeable amount of weight. You are a few years older. All of these examples are good reasons to get a headshot update. Styles change over the years as well. To keep your photo looking fresh and timeless, try updating every few years.

6. Your Skin Is Important Too

Headshots are considered close up shots. The next from our professional headshot tips focuses on this aspect. Obviously your skin is a central feature in a photo. To get a nice smooth appearance that focuses on facial detail and downplays any blemishes, use diffused light. Slight touch-ups through airbrushing or makeup is okay as long as it looks natural and not overdone. You want to look like you on your best day. Thus, lay off the heavy makeup and leave any unfortunate blemishes to the photo touch up department.

Men can prep their skin too. Keep shine down by using oil sheets and use a lightly tinted moisturizer to keep skin looking supple while evening out skin tone. In the end you do not want to go through the time and money only to have to get your headshots redone because too much makeup made you look fake.

make up artist preparing model

7. Standing Out From the Crowd

Obviously it is important to stand out from the competition. Thus, this professional headshots tip looks at doing just that. You can do this in a good way by finding a photographer who can capture not only your look through great lighting and composition, but your personality and spirit as well. This is the right way to try and stand out. Steer clear of losing the professional nature of your headshot.

Keep all the silly statement T-shirts at home along with any ridiculous props. All of these things will likely grab attention, but not the kind you want. It makes you look unprofessional and not necessarily the kind of person a casting director wants to deal with on a daily basis. Plus, these types of graphic shirts and props distracts from your look- which is the whole point of a headshot in the first place.

8. The Basics

Typically, the perfect headshot will show you from the chest up. It will create good lighting to highlight your face without any dramatic contrasty lighting like you are trying out for The Phantom. This type of headshot looks great when printed. Be sure to look directly into the camera so that your photographer can focus on your eyes. (Remember? Windows to your soul?)

Do not do any weird hand gestures or signs. Keep your facial hair clean and put together. Do not pose, especially with your hand on your face, unless you want to look like it is your graduation picture all over again. Make sure you use a blurred background to help make you pop. Thus, the photo needs to be taken with a high quality camera. It is about you and not where you happen to be.

Final Thoughts

A good, professional looking headshot is an important part of your acting kit. It is something you can send to casting directors or leave with them after an audition. It is your business card. Thus, it should be professionally and tastefully done. It should represent you on your best day. Make sure that is what it does. There is nothing more frustrating to a casting director that they have wasted time on an audition where the person they thought would be a perfect fit for the role type only to have someone who looks nothing like their photo show up. They have a job to do and you have essentially lied to them from the go. So keep your headshot updated and keep away from too much airbrushing or makeup tricks.

Be sure to do your hunting and find a photographer that can make you stand out by showing you in a positive light and exposing your personality. These are things that will catch a casting director’s eye in a professional manner, not those crazy graphic T-shirts or silly props. You want positive attention.

What is your experience with the importance of a professionally done headshot? Have you had any bad experiences? What other professional headshot tips can you give to others looking to get their headshots taken? Leave any helpful comments below.

The images are from depositphotos.com.