Actor Headshots – The Complete Guide to Get the Best Professional Headshots

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By The Light Committee

If you are just getting into acting, you will soon learn getting the best actor headshots is one of the first important steps you need to take. If you are already working with a Los Angeles talent manager or talent agent, you are well aware of their importance. Either way it is helpful to know, what are some of the most important considerations when looking to get headshots?

This quick-reference guide has been optimized so you can ready every post or if you are just interested in one or some posts, you can easily see and get to those too. If you have any questions about any topic, get in touch. So, let’s get going with the guide…

Actors Share Agent Tips on What to Wear for Actor Headshots

Actors are always in need of a good headshot and part of achieving that goal is considering what to wear for headshots. Over the past couple of years, in collaboration with their chosen headshot photographer, actors have provided lots of tips provided by their agents or managers on what they should wear. This is a collection of some of the most common tips.


A young woman in a commercial look acting headshot made at an LA studio
A simple but vibrant top goes a long way. It helps keep the focus on you instead of what you're wearing.

Use Bright Vivid and Simple Tops

It’s a headshot so, the top you choose will matter. The overwhelming tip actors bring in from their managers is to use bright vivid colors in a top. This tip makes sense. Many times, your headshot is one thumbnail being viewed amongst dozens of others on a computer screen. So, it needs every advantage to pop and compel a click. Continue reading now.

The Questions One Must Ask When Getting Actor Headshots in Los Angeles

A lot goes into actor headshots one will need to get selected for castings. There is no cookie-cutter approach. Much of this is because what is desired varies from casting director to casting director and from talent manager to talent manager. So, an actor needs to ask their talent manager what they want. And if they do not have a talent manager, they need to decide what type of roles they want to be cast for. Then they can ask their chosen photographer some questions about getting actor headshots. So, what questions are these?

actor headshot studio, the light committee, in los angeles
Researching an Actor Headshot Photographer Means Asking Some Telling Questions

There are seven questions at least to ask. Certainly, this is not a full list, and it could go on and on. At the very least, the following seven questions may bring up ideas for additional ones. There are other sources to turn to for additional questions actors might want to ask. Continue reading.

What Are Casting Directors Looking for in Actor Headshots?

Headshots are a vital aspect of an actor’s career. They serve as one key gateway into getting paid to act in front of a camera. So, it is important to get them right. Although your first instinct might be to just use that picture of you that your friend took last summer, that is not what casting directors want to see. It is important to get actor headshots correctly done for them to reach their full potential as getting you opportunities to audition. That is why you should keep in mind what casting directors look for in actor headshots.

An example of a natural light outdoors headshot using a female actor in Los Angeles
Some casting directors might prefer studio shots while others might prefer outdoors. Neither is wrong or right but an uncluttered background is ideal.

But, like actors, casting directors are not all alike. So, while one casting director might like certain lighting and backgrounds, another might like the complete opposite. Some casting directors might be more focused on one specific type of role, while others on completely different types of roles. Thus, your headshot should first focus on the types of roles you want, that you can look the part for, and that you can pull off in acting. But before all that, your headshot should be the authentic you, and looks should not be forced or they will come across precisely as that – forced and fake. Continue Reading.

What Is a Commercial Headshot?

If you’re looking into getting into acting, you’re likely going to try and find an agent or manager. Inevitably, they will ask for your current headshots or for you to get some new headshots. And this means considering getting commercial looks, theatrical looks, or both. So, what is a commercial look?

You might be wondering what is a theatrical headshot too. It is likely you are going to want both types of looks. There are clear differences between the two and for how they might be used too. Continue Reading.

What Is a Theatrical Headshot?

Actors in need of headshots are often concerned with how many headshots they should get, how many looks they need, and whether to get commercial headshots, theatrical headshot or comedic headshots. And sometimes, what a theatrical headshot is can be unclear.

An example of a theatrical headshot using a male actor in Los Angeles
A Theatrical Headshot Differs from a Commercial Headshot in Acting by the More Dramatic Expressions of the Actor and Lighting Setup for the Headshot

A Theatrical Headshot Differs from a Commercial Headshot in Acting by the More Dramatic Expressions of the Actor and Lighting Setup for the Headshot

Stage Acting vs Movies, TV and Streaming

A theatrical headshot is also commonly referred to as the type of headshot geared more for castings in theater plays and other on-stage roles. If it’s for this purpose, a theatrical headshot and commercial headshot can have blurred lines in their differences. Continue Reading.

What Is a 3/4, 1/2, 1/4 and Full-Body Headshot?

When most people think of a headshot, they likely think it is a close-up photo of someone’s face, cropped from around the upper chest to just above the head. But a headshot, also known as a business portrait, can also be shot at wider distances and these can be referred to as a half (1/2), three-quarter (3/4), one-quarter (1/4), and a full body shot. But what do these look like?

A woman getting a professional headshot made in a Los Angeles studio location

This is typically the case because a 3/4, 1/4, or full body shot are used to accompany a classic headshot in a portfolio. They are most often essential for modeling digitals, but actors sometimes employ them as well. However, they are not exclusive for use in just modeling and acting. Real estate agents, lawyers, and various other professions uses photos of themselves at various distances for their marketing. Continue Reading.

Can You Take Your Own Headshots for Acting?

Many actors are struggling financially to make it in the industry. Still, one requirement is that they get really good acting headshots made. But some photographers can charge quite a bit for just a couple of headshots. So, a common thought is whether actors can take their own headshots?

An example of a professionally made actor headshot versus one made by amateur photographers
Actor’s Considering Taking Their Own Headshots Should Consider Their Results Will Be Compared with Professionally Made Acting Headshots

If you know what you’re doing, you can do anything. So, it is possible. However, it’s usually advised by professionals in the industry that actors work with a professional photographer instead. And there are many clear reasons why. Continue Reading.

Should Your Name Be on Your Headshot?

In practically every industry a headshot is useful. At the very least, it’s a must to have one on your LinkedIn profile. In some careers, like acting, a headshot is critical, and a common question is whether you should have your name on them?

Examples of what it looks like if you print your name on your headshot
Printing Your Name on Your Acting Headshot is a Good Idea But, Should You Use a Border too?

First, it’s important to stress that a headshot should always be made by a professional photographer. Outside of acting, most people with profiles online still make the mistake of using non-professional photos for their profile. So, getting a professional headshot made is a good way to stand apart from those profiles. There are many reasons this is important. Those serious about their acting career already know the importance of getting professional headshots. Continue Reading.

How Long Does a Headshot Session Take?

How long a headshot session takes largely depends on the purpose of the headshot. Some people just want something really simple and quick to post onto LinkedIn. Other professionals need a full portfolio of looks. So, the short answer is a headshot session can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as a day. But what makes for quick sessions versus lengthy ones?

Corporate Headshot Session

A headshot of a business executive man made at a Los Angeles headshot studio
Because of the Nature of Needing to Get Back to Work, Corporate Headshot Sessions Are Often the Quickest. They Can Take as Little as 5-10 Minutes.

The career or job the person has is often a driver for how long a headshot session might take. Many business professionals can get along with one really good headshot against a simple background. Such professions can range from financial, accounting, lawyers, real estate agents, corporate executives, marketing, sales, and more. But even in some of these professions, some people might want more from their headshots. Continue Reading.

How Many Headshots Do You Need?

If you are considering getting a headshot, or headshots, you will eventually need to answer the question – is one enough or should I get more than one headshot? How many headshots you need is dependent on how you plan to use it, or them. This includes your profession. So, what are some considerations?

A comedian headshot made at The Light Committee studio in Los Angeles
Actors Usually Need to Have Many Headshots to Show Many Looks They Can Pull Off

In almost every case, having more than one headshot is a good choice. Now more than ever, most of us have many online profiles for various reasons: career websites, company website, social media, dating, and so on. The top seven social media sites alone have hundreds of millions of users per site. But most people seeking headshots are primarily using it for work-related scenarios. Here is a list of some of them, of which you might find your scenario. Continue Reading.

How Much Does It Cost for Headshots?

You get what you pay for. It is a cliché that has a lot of truth when it comes to how much a headshot costs. When someone opts to try and use their smartphone or have a friend with a fancy camera try to take their headshot, results are often wanting. Thus, paying for professional headshots will often prove to deliver noticeably higher quality. But how much should you pay for headshots?

A professional headshot for a medical residency application made in Los Angeles in a studio setting
Headshot Rates Can Vary Widely from City to City or Depending on What They’re For

It is complicated to specifically answer how much does it cost for headshots. There are many variables. For example, getting headshots in Los Angeles or New York can cost more than in Austin or Nashville. Then again, some photographers in LA or New York might also be less than in Austin or Nashville. But are there common price ranges and other expectations to consider? Continue Reading.

What is a Professional Headshot?

You are more likely now than ever to make use of a professional headshot. But what is a professional headshot anyway? If you want the quick answer, here it is. A headshot is a professionally created photo of your face to be used primarily for commercial purposes. That is the simple answer. If you want drill-down details, let us continue.

A professional headshot of a real estate agent made in Los Angeles in a studio setting
A Professionally Made Headshot Stands Apart Compared with a Smartphone Shot

It should be noted, it is usually spelled “headshot” but sometimes also as “head shot” with two words. The former is usually preferred, for what might appear to be an obvious reason.

There is much more to the above answer to fully understand what a headshot is, why someone could use one, who could use one, and why they must be professionally created. While there are a lot of details, they are not complicated. Continue Reading.

How Do You Prepare for a Headshot?

Headshots are an investment you make for your career. For actors, models and others in entertainment, they are vital. But, even in the corporate world headshots are more important than most people think. So, what can you do to be sure you get headshots that will help advance your career?

An example of a studio headshot in comparison with outdoor headshots in Los Angeles
Studio Headshots Affords Full Control of the Environment for the Photographer

First, be sure your headshots are being done by a professional with a commercial-grade camera, not a smartphone or other point-and-shoot camera. If you settle for a smartphone selfie, it will not only look unprofessional, you might give an impression about how little you care about quality that you don’t want to give. Also, steer clear of asking that friend that has a fancy camera to do it for you. There is much more to a professional headshot than this. Continue Reading.

What Size Are Headshot Photos?

If you are looking to get headshots in Los Angeles – or any other market – you might be wondering what size your headshot should be. There is no standard size and the answer to this question is both very simple and can be technically difficult too. It all depends on the application – how will it be used? Is it for LinkedIn, Actor’s Access, Facebook, Twitter, something else? And will it be printed?

An example of a headshot crop for a commercial actor headshot
A Professional Headshot Is Commonly an 8x10" Photo for Print But, What About for Digital Use?

Print remains highly relevant; despite the belief we live only in an online or digital world. So, it is first important to have a quick understanding of the difference between sizes for prints and digital forms. Continue Reading.

Where to Take Headshot Photos

Sometimes, deciding on a setting or location for where you want your professional headshots made in Los Angeles can be difficult. First, there is a studio session versus outdoors. Then there are case-specific considerations for actor headshots, business professional headshots, modeling digitals, and so on. So, if you are shopping around for headshot options, what are some considerations for where to take headshots?

An example of a studio headshot for theater for acting for people wondering where to go
Studio Lighting Allows for Greater Control to Get Precisely the Shot You're After

Continue Reading.

This is the final post in the series for “Actor Headshots – The Complete Guide to Get the Best Professional Headshots.” Again, if you have any questions or are looking for a headshot photographer, you can get in touch here.