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How to Take Headshots For Acting

July 13, 2021
how to take headshots for acting
Photo by Joseph Gonzalez

My students always want to know how to start acting in Austin. After you have some training under your belt, it’s a good idea to get headshots made.

If you want to know how to take headshots for acting, keep reading. I’m going to give you all my best tips and the best Austin headshot photographers to book.

Use a Professional Headshot Photographer

Agents and casting directors can instantly tell between a professional and amateur headshot, so it’s worth paying for an experienced photographer. There are about to be more professional acting opportunities in Austin than ever before, which means you need a professional headshot to get an audition.

My favorite Austin headshot photographers are Kathy Whittaker and Steven Noryko. You can check out their portfolio pages to get an idea of what a good headshot should look like. Kathy Whittaker took my student DeAnna Ryan’s headshots, and DeAnna used them to get a background part on the CW tv show WALKER!

Create Character Prototypes

Your headshots say a lot about the type of characters you can play. Like it or not, a casting director will take one look at your headshot and decide what parts you are right for, and which ones you aren’t.

You can use this to your advantage and create character prototypes when you’re taking your headshots. For example, if you think you could play a nurturing character like a nurse or teacher, you can plan a whole headshot look around that character type.

Before your session, write a bio for your character. Choose wardrobe, hairstyle, and make-up based on what that character would look like. You can even bring in the music that helps you get into character to play during the session.

Create a couple of prototypes so that you have a variety of characters you can play. When you’re submitting headshots for auditions, you can choose the one that best matches the role you’re going out for.

DeAnna’s headshots are a great example of this. She created one “tough girl” look and one “straight-A student” look. When she is going out for auditions, she can use the right headshot based on the role, and it will help the casting director see her in that part.

how to take headshots for acting
Photos by Kathy Whitaker

Master “the Squinch”

New York photographer Peter Hurley has popularized the concept of “the squinch” in headshot photography. It’s a simple move that makes you look more photogenic.

He says that most people do a deer in the headlights look on camera. Squinching is when you slightly pinch your lower eyelid. It is NOT squinting, it’s a much more subtle movement that makes you look more confident.

Think about lifting your lower eyelid and just slightly lowering your top lid. I recommend practicing in front of the camera before your session so you can master it.

How to Take Headshots For Acting

Following these tips will make all the difference in good headshots vs bad headshots, and a good headshot will distinguish you from other actors.

Headshots are a great step on the path to becoming a professional actor; however, you need to start with training. Are you ready to take acting classes in Austin, TX? Sign up today to start honing your craft.

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