of Headshots for Actors
(by AM Staff)
A headshot is an essential marketing tool for
actors. It is an 8 x 10 photograph, used to help secure
acting work, representation or auditions. Actors, or
their representatives, submit these photographs to
casting directors, agents and other industry
professionals in the hopes that opportunities will arise
for the actor.
Beginning actors may want to
stick with traditional headshots—headshots that are
simple, black-and-white, and friendly. However, advanced
actors may want to use a headshot that more closely
follows their career path.
There are several forms of
headshots that break away from the basic, traditional
headshot. Among these headshots are the commercial
headshot, the theatrical headshot and the composite.
A composite is a collection of
photographs or images that are collectively placed on a
single 8x10 sheet. A composite allows the actor to
display different looks and facial expressions. For
example, in one image, the actor may be professional,
depicting a lawyer or business person. And, in another
image, the actor may look like a family man, dressing in
a simple shirt and jeans.
This collection of different
appearances shows the actor’s range and ability. It
demonstrates how successfully the actor can pull off
different looks or character depictions. This expands
the actors work opportunities.
A commercial headshot is a headshot that actors
specifically use to get acting jobs in television
commercials. As such, commercial headshots depict an
actor in the same manner as actors usually appear in
commercials. In a typical commercial, actors are usually
smiling and happy, bubbling over with joy as they
attempt to sell an advertiser’s product. An actor who
regularly performs in commercials must be able to be
warm, friendly, inviting, interesting, funny and
cheerful. Therefore, a commercial headshot must be all
those things, too.
In many cases, a composite may be used as a
commercial headshot. That’s because, as mentioned above,
a composite allows the actor to display many different
looks. This allows the actor to have more potential
opportunities. For instance, on the actor’s composite
card, he might have a sporty, athletic look and a
business professional look. These images may help him
land a commercial for Nike and a commercial for Men’s
Warehouse, all done by using the different looks on a
single composite card.
A theatrical headshot is a headshot that actors
use to obtain acting jobs in theatre or theatrical
productions. The difference between a theatrical
headshot and, say, a commercial headshot is the focus.
Whereas a standard headshot may depict the actor as a
regular person, warm and friendly, a theatrical headshot
may zero-in on a specific quality or character that the
actor is good at portraying. For example, an actor may
be great at portraying the shy, quiet type. So, the
actor may get a theatrical headshot that portrays the
actor looking shy and quiet. The actor is able to use
the headshot to go after theatrical roles that require
an actor who can portray a shy, quiet, introverted
Actors should always consult
their talent agents before they spend any money getting
headshots. But most importantly, actors should review
their career goals to determine which kind of headshot
and marketing program will work best for them.