About Acting Headshots

Everything you need to know about what to wear, how to pose, and what backgrounds to use for the perfect acting headshots.

What Are Acting Headshots?

Acting headshots are a type of portrait photo used by actors and actresses to help them land acting roles. Typically, casting directors use headshots to help them decide whether applicants have the right “look” and charisma for a given role.  

Acting headshots focus on showcasing the subject’s facial features, emotional range, and ability to nail one certain expression in their photos.

A great headshot can help an aspiring actor or actress stand out from a stack of other applications for an audition.

acting headshot example
fun active acting headshot

Are Acting Headshots Important?

Have you ever met someone that you instantly either liked, or disliked?

Perhaps you knew why you felt that way about them, or perhaps you didn’t, but most people are prone to generating “first impressions” of other people in just 1/8th of a single second. These first impressions can have dramatic impact on who they hire, buy from, and otherwise listen to.

In acting, particularly for those who are starting out, casting directors use headshots to make a split-second decision about who they will allow to audition for their roles.

So, it’s smart to invest in the right set of headshots that will open doors for your career.

What Do I Wear for Acting Headshots?

It depends on your personality and the types of roles you’re looking for.

Are you playing the jock? Then you should dress like that.

Are you trying to play the “rich business man”, then wear a suit.

The more you can match your desired target roles in your headshots, the more likely a casting director will recognize you as a “good fit” for their opening.

Generally speaking, if you want a very general style for your heashot, then you should dress “fashionably casual” – which calls for simple, but good-looking, clothing.

Avoid any complex patterns, logos, or accessories that distract from your face.


acting headshot example
female acting headshot

How Do I Pose for Acting Headshots?

No need to go crazy on your poses for acting headshots. In our sessions, we tend to focus on minimalist poses. We’ve seen other photographers force clients into some truly bizarre poses. But, we avoid this practice like the plague.

We are, after all, showcasing your acting skills — not our photography.

At the beginning of your session, you should warm up with simple and straightforward poses. Simply stand there and smile.

Later, we will work toward some poses that are a good fit for your target roles.

What Backdrops are Best for Acting Headshots?

Generally speaking, try to avoid colorful and/or distracting backdrops for your headshots. You are the star for your photos, so avoid using a backdrop that has any type of pattern or gradient.

Acting headshots are almost always shot with paper studio backdrop, but can sometimes be taken outdoors. 

For paper studio backdrops, stick with neutral colors that will compliment your look, while not calling attention away from you.

So, for 90% of sessions, we shoot on either black, dark grey, or off-white.

Visit our professional headshot backgrounds page to see examples with each backdrop we carry.


male serious acting headshot

HeadShots Inc Offers 9 Colored Studio Backdrops + Pure White

female acting headshot

How Should I Prepare for Acting Headshots?

There are three keys to preparing for your headshot ahead of time.

First, if possible, try to get some sleep, exercise, and sunshine in the weeks before your session. Our editing team airbrushes your selected photos before delivering them to you, but your preparation will help ensure that the photos look as natural as possible.

Second, make sure to briefly wear your desired clothing a couple days before your session. You want to make sure that your outfits still fits properly and doesn’t need dry cleaning.

Third, take a look at some prior photos of yourself and see if there are any that you particularly like. When you arrive at the studio, show those photos to your photographer, and that will help us find an angle that you find flattering.


What If I’m Not Photogenic or Hate Getting My Photo Taken?

We’ve got you covered! Most portrait photographers are unfortunately guilty of creating a cringe-y environment for their clients. They force you into awkward poses and don’t truly understand what clients are looking for from their session. Either that, or they rush you through the session.

There are also many photographers who refuse to specialize in one form of photography, so they’re frankly not very skilled at any specific type of session.

At HeadShots Inc, we strive to create a fun & stress-free environment for every client. At our studio, we play upbeat music and constantly get feedback from the client so that we can work towards an amazing headshot that you’ll be proud to show online. We’ve mastered one service that we do exceptionally well. 


children acting headshot
female acting headshot

How Much Do Acting Headshots Cost?

 Acting headshots cost between $65 and $1500 depending on geography, package, and provider. The bottom end of that range is going to produce some truly terrible photos.

When considering pricing, remember to look at a) licensing (who owns the photos) and b) retouching fees.

In terms of licensing, photographers typically only give you ownership for photos that you “buy” from them. This fee is separate from your “session fee,” which just covers the time spent inside their studio. If you want to use your photos on a press release, advertisement, magazine, or somewhere else, you may have to pay additional licensing fees.

For retouching, many photographers charge between $50 and $150 per photo. Calculate those fees into your total session cost.

For reference, HeadShots Inc sessions cost between $195 and $495, you get full copyright usage rights (no need to license or credit images to us) to ALL the photos from your  session. You can download your high-resolution photos right to your computer/phone. Retouching is $55/photo. Various packages have different amounts of retouched photos included. Visit our headshot pricing page to learn more about options.

Looking for Acting Headshot Pricing?

Find the perfect headshot package for your goals and budget below.

Individual Sessions

See pricing for individuals and small groups of up to four people. Packages range from $195 to $495 per person based on session length and location.

Team Sessions

See pricing for groups of any size. Traditional headshot days and flexible corporate accounts are available across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Looking For Our Studio Location?

Learn more about our location and travel availability below.

Or start a website chat to ask a question.