Should Your Name Be on Your Headshot?

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By The Light Committee

A professional headshot is increasingly more important than ever. More and more, the average person has numerous online or app profiles. In some careers, like acting, a headshot is critical, and a common question is whether you should have your name on them?

First, it is worthwhile noting regardless whether your online profiles are for personal or for business reasons, recruiters, customers, potential partners, and others do often try to look at your profiles. This is increasingly part of vetting any interest in you. Actors and models know this well. But even doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, marketing executives and other professionals have their headshots ever more considered as a factor of doing business with that person. Actors must have one on Actors Access or Backstage. Business professionals at the very least should have one on their LinkedIn profile. More and more, people also get them for social media profiles.

So, second, it is important to stress that a headshot should always be made by a professional photographer. Outside of acting, most people with profiles online commonly make the mistake of using non-professional photos for their profile. This used to just mean a selfie but now it includes the so-called AI headshot. You know they’re not good when a selling point of some apps is that they are “realistic.”

Instead, work with a headshot photographer to make sure 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. So, once you have a good headshot made, do you need to ever put your name on them?

An example of what it looks like to print your name on your headshots
When Printing, Putting Your Name on Your Acting Headshot is a Good Idea But, Should You Use a Border too?

Acting Headshot Prints

For acting headshots, having your name on the photos is not important for online profiles but it is for physical prints. For online profiles, your photo is already under your own account profile with your name and other information associated to it. So, not being able to relate a name to a face or making the mistake of relating your photo with an incorrect name is unlikely.

There are still scenarios where you might need to provide printed headshots. Some talent agents in Los Angeles still request prints be mailed in for submission or provided in person. In prints, it is helpful to have your name on the photos. You might even consider a phone number or email address. If you use an email address, make it as short and memorable as possible.

For example, try not to use an email such as [email protected]. This distracts from your photo and increases the likelihood of a typing error. It is unlikely [email protected] would be available but, perhaps something like [email protected] is. An alternative is placing a short memorable website URL. You can make a short URL with sites like Bitly. This way you could provide a convenient link to a website or other web page of importance.

To Print With or Without a Border

The reasons to have your name on the photo include in case your resume becomes detached from it. In such a case, your name and perhaps your contact information is readily available. After all, in acting your headshot is essentially your resume.

So, after wondering if a name should be included on a printed acting headshot, the next thought is often whether it should have a white border for your name to go on it? This is personal preference but, sometimes what you wear in your headshot will drive the answer to this.

If in your headshot you are wearing a top that allows for good contrast in text, you can get away with not using a border. For example, if you wear a white shirt, you can use black text or a black shirt with white text. Just be sure the text is in a place that does not distract from your face. So, it is common to pick a bottom left or right placement.

Using a white border to print your name also works. Just consider that, to make space for the border, using a border means your photo will be just a bit smaller. Some actors do not want this while some think it is barely noticeable. It is a matter of personal preference.

Another consideration is to have your resume printed on the back of your headshot. In this way, in one single page, a casting director will have all your details right on the other side of that glowing face of yours. As for the font you might use, keep this simple too. Avoid fonts that use busy serifs.

A commercial actor headshot of a woman in pink in a studio near Pasadena
If Printing Your Name, it Helps if the Background and Attire are Solid Colors for Clearer Contrast

Printed Modeling Comp Cards

As with printing acting headshots, printed modeling comp cards are also rare nowadays but not extinct. You may need to get it done and this is usually part of the process of getting modeling digitals made in cities like Los Angeles.

 A modeling comp card is basically one sheet, usually photo quality paper, with several shots organized on it. This would include your headshot, a full body shot, a profile shot and another 1-2 shots that could be half body or full body.

In addition, your basic stats go on it, such as your height, hair, and eye color. Your contact information is also included.

A woman in a modeling digitals model comp card made in a studio in Los Angeles
An example modeling comp card that can be printed

Printed Corporate Headshots

Nowadays there are only rare cases for printing corporate headshots. But there might be situations where a business headshot needs to be printed with a name on it. For example, this might be for use in promoting a speaker at an event to be attended. It might also be for an article written by an executive, where a headshot will appear in the print-edition of the magazine.

As with an online acting profile, using your headshot on an online business profile like LinkedIn has your photo attached to your profile. So, confusing your photo with someone else is unlikely as is not being able to attach a name to a face. So, putting your name on that headshot is overkill.

There are some job postings or RFPs that request a headshot of a person or team member. In such cases you might want to place your name on it. This can help avoid not knowing who that face is should your headshot become detached from a related file, your resume, and so on.

A dancer headshot of a woman in a dress in studio near Los Angeles
You Might Also Opt to Put Your Name on the Back of the Printed Headshot, Perhaps Even Your Entire Resume

Printed Dancer Headshots

Another case where printing a name and contact information on a headshot might be useful is for dancers. Dancers sometimes need to provide printed headshots for auditions. So, it might be a good idea that they follow the same advice as for actors on placing your name on printed headshots.

Professional headshots are an investment in your career. Getting them done right is important and how you present them for your specific case is too. Thus, for actors, it is a good idea to have your name on printed headshots. It might also be a good idea to have a phone number, short email address or short website URL. This can spare someone having to research you name on IMDB or elsewhere. Besides, making it easier to reach you and learn about you is probably a good idea for your acting career.