Tips for your perfect actors' headshots

Getting great actor headshots isn’t rocket science but it is something you should prepare for. An actors’ headshot is your shop window. A glance at it should spark interest in the viewer to want to find out more about what you have to offer.

This guide is to help you get the most out of your photoshoot.



sweet dreams

The importance of sleep can’t be underestimated, not only does it effect our mood and ability to concentrate, but lack of sleep shows in your face. Before the shoot, try to get as many good nights as possible and especially the night before.

Avoid drinking before your headshots.jpg

avoid alcohol

A glass is wine is fine the night before, but don’t overdo it. Looking slightly green and hungover doesn’t make a good headshot… Unless that’s the role you are going for.

Rehearse your headshots


Few actors have the ability to walk on stage and give an exceptional performance without rehearsing. If you have a chance before the photoshoot, stand in front of a mirror and practice some of the expressions you would like to have captured.


Actress Rebeca's headshot


Where possible, look for colours that are similar to your eyes. This will help your them stand out.

Avoid strips for your headshots


A headshot should focus on you. Patterns, stripes and logos are distracting. Red should also be avoided where possible. It's a great, powerful colour, but can also draw the viewers eye away from you.

Different necklines for actors headshots


If possible choose a few tops with different necklines e.g. v-necks, shirts/blouses or round necked.

Keep it simple


Keep It Super Simple. If you are unsure what to wear, choose colours such as light blue, black, green or pink, and perhaps most importantly, something that you are comfortable in and you feel shows off who you are.

Natural Makeup for your headshots


If wearing foundation, apply conservatively and bring some with you to touch-up if necessary. Avoid using thick makeup such as concealer. Skin tone/texture can be corrected during the editing, including spot removal.


Be prepared for your actors headshots


Arrive with your hair, makeup and clothing as you would want them to be for the photoshoot. There is time for titivating but it will soon disappear if you have to apply your makeup from scratch, iron your clothes, or give yourself a perm.

Relax for your Actor Headshots


Once upon a time I got a job with an audio/visual company. On my first day I was sharing an office with the managing director and felt a little overwhelmed and nervous. My MD could see this and so with a wise smirk on his face reclined into his comfy leather chair and exhaled one word. “Relax”

This little piece of wisdom should be applied to all areas of life and is especially useful when having your headshots taken.

Actors headshots should be fun

Enjoy yourself

Ok, so that’s partly up to the photographer, but don’t hold back on having fun. The more you enjoy yourself, the more natural and inviting the final images will look.

Three reasons why you need professional headshots

“My mate’s got a smartphone with eight cameras and 70 billion mega pixels! What do I need a professional headshot photographer for?”

In case you don’t know the answer to that question, or are wondering if it is really worth investing in professional headshots, here are a few reasons why.

Whilst it is true that smartphone cameras are great and keep getting better, they are best suited to candid shots capturing life events. Oh... and selfies. They rarely come with a trained photographer with years of experience in getting the best results and expertise in retouch, and are not an appropriate tool for conveying a professional impression.

Whether you are an actor or a business professional, headshots are an important marketing tool. It’s not just how your face looks though, it’s how professional your headshot looks. There’s no point spending hours crafting that perfect post or investing time in building your professional network, when your photo is conveying the message that you don’t really care.

So what makes professional headshots better than what your mate and his phone can do?

Equipment, Light and Detail

Whilst some smartphones might pack in as many megapixels as a professional DSLR or mirrorless camera, there are a few areas they don’t compare. A smart phone image might look good when viewed small, but when you zoom in you’ll really notice the difference.

To start with, the sensor in a professional camera is much bigger than those found in smartphones. The largest sensor in a smartphone at the time of writing this article is approximately 14mm x 9mm. Compare that to a full frame DSLR with a sensor size of 36mm x 24mm. With a bigger sensor, more light is captured and therefore more detail.

Then there is the lens. Professional photographers will often use what’s called a ‘Prime’ lens. This is a fixed focal length lens, usually at 50mm or 85mm for portraiture. These lenses are much larger than the tiny ones found on smartphones and can allow much more light through to the sensor. Again, more light equates to more detail. They also pack in far more elements than those tiny phone ones, and just the lens alone can cost as much, if not more than your mate’s super-duper wizzy smartphone.

In addition, those of us who do this for a living have taken a lot of time to understand how different light and lighting setups will affect the subject.


You can read my post on retouch here, so I won’t go into too much detail. In most instances professional headshot photographers will enhance the final images that are delivered to you. Retouch is post processing of images to enhance them beyond what is captured by the camera. It takes time and expertise which will be factored into the price you pay.

Capturing the best of you

A professional photographer also has to understand how to get the best out of their subject. If you are not comfortable during your photoshoot the images will look awkward, like a deer in headlights. Professional photographers have years of experience, plus tricks and techniques in helping people feel comfortable and getting the right look for the job, whether that’s an actor’s headshot that casting directors will go for or a professional headshot with gravitas.

In summary, when you invest in a professional headshot you are benefiting from the investment the photographer has made in the equipment and skills to take detailed, striking images, capturing you at your best.

What is retouch?

As with film and TV, a lot of the magic in photography happens behind the scenes. Every package comes with image retouch included, which is digital post processing that will enhance the original picture captured by the camera.

For actor and business headshots the process involves removing any impermanent spots or blemishes, reducing darkness under the eyes and colour grading which gives your headshot images an extra POP. This process taking around 20 to 30 minutes per image.

Headshots should be a true representation of you, so there is no excessive skin smoothing, removal of permanent marks such as scars or body/face sculpting. This would fall into the category of beauty retouch.

Wondering what colour grading is? For a start, it’s not just adding layer after layer of Instagram filters, (although I guess technically that does count). It is a process involving different layers, to enhance colours and add contrast to lights and darks. For my process, step one is as the image below. Steps two and three are also within the tabs of that window. After this, there are usually three to four more individually customised layers added to achieve the final look, not including the steps for spot/blemish removal.

Settings shown are for example.

Settings shown are for example.

Below is the before and after of a photo I took at a wedding recently and then enhanced with colour grading. It was a gloomy rainy day in June with full cloud cover and this is evident in the photo as captured by the camera. Colour grading for this image involved adding brightness and contrast, increasing greens and reds along with adding warmth and introducing a little more yellow to the plant life.

If you would like a beauty retouch of your images, please request this either when booking, or on the day of your shoot. This service can be provided at an additional £25 per image.

How to choose which headshot package is best for you

As you’ll have seen from browsing the website, I offer three packages for actors and business individuals which vary in cost, length, number of looks and quantity of edited images.

If you are unsure which is best for you and aren’t making your decision based purely on budget, here’s a little guide to help you make your choice.

The ‘Top Up’ session (for actors) or ‘LinkedIn’ (for business individuals) is the cheapest package I offer and is great for anyone confident in front of a camera and only needing one edited image, however it might not yield the best overall results as the limited time doesn’t allow long for you to warm to the camera, or experiment with many different looks. If however, you have only one expression you want to capture, then go for it.

The ‘Standard’ session (for actors) or ‘LinkedIn Plus’ (for business individuals) is my mid-range package which is still a very affordable price for headshots in London, yet gives you more time to relax into the session and try out more looks.

It is also currently the most popular choice for people looking to update their LinkedIn profile image.

Whilst the ‘Performance’ session (for actors) or ‘Portfolio’ (for business individuals) is the most expensive package I offer, it is also the most cost effective when broken down into the length of the photoshoot, the variety of shots you get, and the number of edited images you’ll receive after the shoot. With the six edited images you get from this package, you can show a good range of images expressing your personality.

For these reasons, it is the most popular package for actors.