Booking a headshot session for the first time can be a pretty daunting task. There is a lot of information and varying opinion on what, exactly, a headshot is (or should be) and what makes a particular headshot good or bad. No single source is absolutely right or wrong. In the end, what is most important is that your headshot captures your personality and image in a way that the viewer can easily connect with.

It’s easy enough to get swept up in a heap of less than reliable information surfing the net these days. Here’s a short a list of some basic questions and answers to set the record straight. This information comes from 10+ years experience in the production business and recommendations from talent and casting directors. Let’s take a look at some of the popular questions, conventions, and ideas surrounding professional headshot photography.

Headshot FAQ

What is a headshot?

A headshot is a photograph used by actors to seek work and by casting directors and talent agents in casting and representation decisions. The headshot photograph focuses closely on a subject’s face and aims to create a clear and accurate representation of the subject’s appearance. Style has changed over the years, but two major variations persist: the commercial headshot and the theatrical headshot. Commercial headshots are used by those seeking work in print and television ads. Theatrical headshots are used by actors seeking roles in television, film, and on stage. Commercial headshots tend to be more vibrant and lively, while theatrical headshots are more serious and dramatic.

Who needs a headshot?

Both actors and models should have professional headshots. Men, women, children, and teens – everyone seeking work in front of a camera, on stage, or in any performance setting should have professional headshots to provide to talent agents, representatives and casting directors.

What size should headshots be printed?

Headshots are printed as 8 x 10 inch glossy prints. Typically, they will feature a solid white border around the image and your name printed at the bottom. Often, agencies have specific styling requirements for your headshot prints. Check with your agency about to learn about specific styling requirements.

Should my headshot be in color or black and white?

Color. While there is much debate regarding color or b/w, the consensus currently is that a color image is most appropriate. In times past, black and white headshots have been the standard. However, with digital prints so readily available, color headshots have become the standard. Black and White images are available on request!

How often do I need to get new headshots?

The answer to this question depends solely on you. When you show up at an audition, the casting director is expecting you to look like your headshot. So, anytime your physical appearance changes enough that it doesn’t match your headshot, you need to get new headshots. If you chop off or color your hair, decide to grow a beard, gain or lose weight, then you should be updating your headshot. For growing children, its recommended that new headshots be produced every eight months.

Those are the basics. To continue learning about headshots, check out the next blog post with a few Headshot Tips and Tricks to help fine tune your headshot session. To see more examples, check out my headshot photo album.