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Headshot Tips

What is a Professional Headshot?

You are more likely now more than ever to need a professional headshot. But what is this anyway? First, it’s usually spelled “headshot” but sometimes also as “head shot.” Simply put, a headshot is a professional photo of your face. But there’s more to it than that. Nowadays it’s usually a digital file but there are still instances where prints are needed. A headshot is also often called a profile image – such as those you post on a social media profile.  The next question that often comes up is why does it need to be professional? Well, for a lot of reasons.

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A Professionally Made Headshot Stands Apart Compared with a Smartphone Shot or Other Non-Professional Photo

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What Makes a Good Headshot?

A good headshot can be the difference in getting a gig or not. In certain industries, headshots are not just a luxury, they are necessary – actors know this. But what makes a good headshot? One can argue it starts with the subject, or person, being photographed. Removing this, and so our question applies to anyone, let’s rephrase the question to what makes a good headshot regardless of the subject?

I believe there are four components to making a good headshot and we’ll break down each one. Note the word “make” because that’s the difference between working with a pro and someone just “taking” your photo.

Think of each these components as each being worth one letter-grade, if you will. So, missing one can be the difference between an A or B score and missing two can mean a C, and so on. These four components are: 1) having a good, technically and creatively sound photographer, 2) using a very good camera, 3) an understanding of how to use studio strobe or natural lighting, 4) and post-production work.

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Sometimes the Goal in a Headshot is An Expression of Creativity

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How Should I Pose for a Headshot?

If you’re rather new to getting headshots, you might wonder going into a session what you should do to pose? Like most photography answers, there is no one way or one shoe fits all answer to this. Much of it depends on the purpose of the headshot – is it for an actor, executive, a model, dancer, etc. and how will it primarily be used? Also, is there a feel or emotion you’re trying to convey?

There truly is no one way to address how to pose. Therefore, there are no rules. But there are some obvious considerations.

To Smile or Not to Smile

Smiling during headshots is arguably the one thing most people struggle with. They often think they overdo it or underdo it. It’s never just right. Therefore, it’s important to establish quick rapport with a headshot photographer. Being put at ease goes a long way toward getting that smile just right.

When posing for a smile, consider having your headshot photographer take many variations so you can ultimately find that one where your smile is great. Then again, there are some situations where you don’t want to smile. For example, an actor theatrical headshot might call for a more serious look.

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Sometimes, a Smile Isn’t Fitting, Such as With Theatrical Actor Headshots

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What Do You Wear for Headshots?

So, what do you wear for headshots? This is a common question that can have both a simple and involved answer. First, it depends on who the headshot is for and how the headshot will be used. It also depends on the crop factor of the headshot.

What Should Women Wear During Headshots

So, ladies first. To get even more granular, what should a woman wear for actor headshots? It should be noted answering this question is highly applicable to headshots for other purposes – corporate, models, etc. So, keep reading and don’t skip ahead. Again, keep in mind the crop factor. For acting, most headshots are tight, around from the chest up. So, there is often no consideration required for bottoms or shoes.

What to Wear for Headshots

Color-Coordinating a Headshot Can Make it Pop

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What’s a Headshot in Acting?

So, what’s a headshot in acting? First, we should define what is a headshot in general. A headshot differs from a portrait in that it is a professional photo of a person’s head to be used for commercial purposes. In other words, it’s a photo of a person’s face used to directly or indirectly help that person make money. And, it’s arguable that a headshot is more important for an actor than anyone else.

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An Actor Headshot is a Critical Tool for Casting Success

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