Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Headshots But Were Afraid To Ask: What Is a Headshot?

What’s a headshot? Stupid question, right? You know that a headshot is an 8×10 publicity photo. And you know it’s your calling card. You give it to agents and managers to find representation. You post it online and mail it to get auditions. And you bring it to every audition so the Powers-That-Be remember you.

But there are some things you might not know about headshots.

Commercial vs. Legit Headshots

There are 2 basic types of headshots, and most actors should have both:Sample commercial headshot

1) Commercial: Advertisers usually like warm, friendly and trustworthy people to sell their product. Your headshot should make you look like one of these people, which (of course!) you are. A typical commercial headshot features a nice smile and soft colors. The lighting is usually bright, not overly shadowed.

2) Sample Legit HeadshotTheatrical/Legit: A legit headshot is your chance to show off your type (not an everyman or everywoman who can sell a product, but a unique human being.) These are usually more layered and nuanced than a commercial headshot. Although you can smile, it’s normally not the driving image in the shot.

Do you just need to update a headshot? Our Basic Headshot Package is probably right for you. Do you need both a commercial and a legit shot? Try our Deluxe Headshot Package.

Color vs. Black & White

It once was a legitimate question to ask whether your headshot should be in color or B&W. But times have changed. Your headshot should be in color: that’s the industry standard. A B&W headshot looks dated and will make a casting director think it was taken several years ago or more. If you’re serious about your career and your headshot is B&W, get a new one now.

Head & Shoulders vs. Three-Quarter or Full Length

As the name implies, a headshot is normally of your head or head & shoulders.  That’s my preference because your face fills the frame, allowing your eyes to draw in the viewer. A photo that shows more of your body (three-quarter or full-length) is standard for models, but not for actors. However, it can be useful if your body type is important for the types of roles you want, such as bikini-babe or muscle builder.

Want to learn more? Then read the whole Guide To Great Headshots:

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