acting headshots

How to Get the Part: What Casting Directors Are Looking for in Acting Headshots

What Casting Directors Are Looking for In Acting Headshots

Getting professional, paying acting rules is very tough, and it’s mostly a numbers game. But you can sway casting directors in your favor with a good headshot. Here’s what they’re looking for when they take a peek at your acting headshots.

Keyword(s): acting headshots

To be an actor is a rare dream. Something like 90 percent of actors are out of work. Standing out in the sea of fellow talent can be a difficult and stressful task. Usually, all you need is that one break, but getting it in the first place is an uphill battle. Acting headshots are one of the many variables for most people to master. A lot of actors find the process stressful because it’s about a lot more than just taking a picture of yourself.

Today, we’re going to help you out by showing you exactly what casting directors are looking for in headshots so you can land your next role.

What are Acting Headshots?

Before you begin, it’s important to know what these headshots are.

This is a photograph of you usually from the chest up that casting will look at to determine whether or not they should call you for an audition.

It’s a headshot resume and it’s a quick look at who you are, what you look like, what you’re about, and more.

Think about it like a resume, too. Put it in physical forms, such as on business cards, and on your website as well.

You want to network and get people specifically familiar with your face.

Casting directors and other people responsible for making casting decisions need a visual cue to know if they should consider you for a role.

This is the gateway to your best gig, so it’s incredibly important and it needs to be paid attention to.

What are Casting Directors Looking for?

Going out and having someone take a picture of you is great and all, but it’s not enough.

You should have a plan for what you want out of your acting headshots. Most importantly, you should consider what casting directors are looking for.

You might be surprised at what’s important, too.

Avoid Glamor Shots

This is where most actors trip over themselves with acting headshots.

A lot of people automatically assume they need to look their absolute best for photos. It’s as if a natural instinct kicks in and people immediately go above and beyond: hair, makeup, angles, perfect lighting, etc.

Next thing you know you’ve got a headshot more appropriate for Vogue than a casting director.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with looking great in a headshot. Certainly, take a shower, do something with your hair, and don’t look like you just rolled out of bed. Unless, of course, you’re trying out for that lazy roommate in a new sitcom.

The point is, you’re trying to convey honestly who you are and what you bring to the table. You’re not putting together a picture for your new dating profile.

Stand Out

There is a fine line to “standing out.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should wear a rainbow wig and rubber red nose. With actors headshots, standing out means being memorable, not being obscene, over the top, or excessive.

One way to do that is just by putting yourself out there.

As mentioned before, put your headshot on more than just your headshot resume. Have your headshot on business cards and give them out at networking events.

Plaster your headshot on your website resume or portfolio. Make it so that when a casting director is cycling through the stacks of options, yours is immediately recognizable.

Other than putting yourself out there, another way to make your headshot stand out is to pay attention to subtleties. Maybe it’s a glint in your eye or the way you seem to “pop out” from the photo, but something should immediately stand out.

Consider looking at portrait galleries to get ideas for subtle ways to stand out.

For example, if you have dark hair, don’t opt for a black or dark background. You want contrast to work in your favor and you want to stand out in the photo, whether you’re actually outside or sitting in a studio.

Be the Part

Sometimes, you may have different acting headshots for different roles that you are trying out for.

It’s important to have multiple options available because you’re trying to sell yourself for a particular role.

Casting directors have a puzzle before them that they’re trying to piece together. It’s their job to fill every role just right and you might be part of that jigsaw.

The casting director doesn’t want to have to ponder and guess whether or not you’re right for the role. It should be apparent from the get-go.

Be Truthful

You’re an actor. It’s your job to be versatile and play many different roles, but your headshots should be truthful to who you are.

It should give a good sense of your dynamics and what you’re capable of doing or being. If your headshots don’t accurately portray you as an actor then it’s a bit like catfishing in online dating.

If you look one way in their photo and another way in person, it’s no good for anyone. Everyone’s time has been wasted and it will reflect poorly on you.

People in charge of making casting decisions should be able to see who you are in one shot.

It’s a lot of pressure, but the importance of what your headshot resume conveys to people can’t be stressed enough.

It’s about the intangibles just as much as the tangibles.

Sure, a casting director needs to see that you have certain hair color and length, be of a certain age, etc., but they need to get a sense of the intangibles too.

Are you quirky and young at heart? Stern and an old soul?

Your headshots should convey the whole, truthful picture of who you are and what you bring to the table.

Find the Perfect Headshot

If being an actor wasn’t hard enough, the stress of nailing an audition is astronomical. The gateway to that audition in the first place, though, is getting the perfect acting headshots.

There are a lot of nuances that casting directors are looking for, mostly including the truthful representation of who you are as an actor. They want to hire you for the right role just as much as you want it, so try your best to get the headshots that fit the part.

If you’re interested in seeing what kind of work Professional Portrait Photography can do for you, meet our team and contact us right away!

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