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Aurelie Stratton

by Aurelie Stratton

What makes a good Headshot?


Aurelie Stratton


“We cannot stress the importance of a headshot enough, it is the only way a casting director is going to consider you for a role before they have met you.” – Stella Adler 2014

As Actors we all need to have an up to date CV, a Voice Reel, a Show Reel and a recent Headshot. In the United States and the UK, the industry standard is to update your headshot every two years. Some actors change their shot once a year in order to keep things ‘fresh’ as a new headshot can often be a good reason for contacting Producers, Directors and Casting Directors with a ‘I thought I would just send you my new Headshot....’

None of us stay the same. We get older, we lose/gain weight, change our hair, etc so it is essential to update your headshot as and when we all change.

Your headshot is your calling card; it is what gets you through the door which is why it is so important you have a good and current headshot!

Ten years ago the industry standard was Black and White but now this has transformed to Colour as we are now living in a digital age. If you do not have an up to date colour Headshot, you need one. it would be wise to get one as soon as possible.

Many people ask the question ‘What makes a good headshot?’ The answer is simple, a good headshot is CLEAN, ALIVE and MOST IMPORTANTLY, it looks like YOU!

Do your research and find a photographer you like and are comfortable with. Be careful of photographers who specialise in fashion or wedding photography as they sometimes create beautiful photos that are just not right for an actors headshot. Make sure the photographer has experience shooting actors. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a photo worthy of a Vogue magazine cover shoot that mom wants on her mantal piece.  Remember that you are an actor not a model!

I often hear the phrase ‘Actors just don’t have money’.....Yes, headshots are not cheap but you have to invest in your career as that old adage says, you have to spend money to make money...As a professional actor you need to realise that a good, colour headshot, will get you work. A friend who is good at taking photos is not good enough. If you don’t have the money then book a session in advance and save for that date.

So let’s talk about CLEAN, ALIVE and YOU! These are the three points that will help you get the right shot.

CLEAN: Your headshot has to be a clean head and shoulders shot. It can be extended to the waste but no more. You want a Clean background, no patterns and the headshot should have good lighting and minimal editing. You don’t want anything interfering with a clear shot of your face.


Make sure you wear plain colours and no loud prints as they detract from the face and the eyes. Do not use accessories as this also draws focus away from your face. Be smart about colour choices and make sure you wear colours that complament skin tone. Plain clothes are best, stripes and flowery patterns are the worst. Colours like dark blues are easier to photograph than white and black. Blues also enhance skin tone where as whites and blacks can wash you away. Added to that if you wear black and shoot in front of a black background you will end up looking like a floating head. The same applies to whites on a white background.


ALIVE:  A headshot that is Alive is one with a spark in the eyes! The eyes are the windows to the soul. Make sure you ‘communicate’ with that lense, the eyes are the focal point! There is nothing worse than dead eyes in a photograph as it makes an actor appear to have no spark and no personality. Remember this when you are in front of the lense, make sure your eyes are clear and Alive! If you have that spark, that depth then people will want to know more and they will call you in.


YOU: Your headshot has to look like YOU! Some actors hire make-up artists which is great but make sure that the make-up is natural and enhances your features, you don’t want make up to hide you! And as I mentioned before minimal editing as this is not a Vogue photo shoot! There is nothing worse than arriving at a casting and looking nothing like your photo. If it is not a current photo or it has been over edited etc you then end up wasting that casting directors time and yours. This may result in you never being called back as you come off unprofessional.

Good Headshots are an investment. It will help propel your career in the direction and get you through the door. The most important thing for an actor is getting seen, the first step to getting seen is your headshot! A bad headshot indicates a lack of professionalism and is in fact a waste of time, energy and money.

So invest in your career and follow the 3 Step Rule; Clean, Alive and You! Get your foot through that door and then the rest is up to you!


Eloquent Photography


@aurelie_koren                       http://aureliestratton.wix.com/eloquentphotos  Eloquent@gmx.com