Styling Tips for your actor headshot Session

Styling for an Actor Headshot is fun! No stuffy business rules to follow as these headshots are a tad different. Yes, we want the same result, which is a confident and approachable expression, but you get to throw in a bit more personality and character into your headshots and what you wear can help tell the story you are wanting to tell.

I encourage you to bring a lot of choices. Think about what rolls or advertisements you want to land. Your headshot is the first stop to getting you noticed. I believe every actor and model should have headshots in their portfolio. I don’t always see them. Yes, post images from jobs you’ve done, portfolio work, but please, always keep your headshots current. No more than 2 years should pass by before you update your calling card. Your headshot is your calling card. As with every image floating around in the world, people who see that image make their judgements of you in 1/10th of a second. They’ve not met you. They’ve not seen your work, but they are already judging your abilities and skillset in your images.

I will have you bring 3 basic colors of white, gray and black. These can be tank tops, turtlenecks, t-shirts, whatever fits you well. I’m a huge fan of shooting white on white and gray on gray. Black is great on white and gray. From there, throw in colors that compliment your eyes and skin. Got blue eyes? Then bring blue and make those suckers pop! I prefer to see you in no pattern at all unless it fits the characters you get work doing. Keep in mind, this is more about you than character casting, but if you only play a certain part and don’t want anything else, then by all means bring a pattern shirt. For the rest of you, solid works best. It keeps the focus on you that way.

Layering rocks! T-shirts, tanks, hoodies, leather jackets, velvet jackets, scarfs, sweaters, etc. We will piece together things at your session so make sure you bring enough to play around with. Please come with everything pressed and ready to go. On hangers usually works best. I have a closet nearby to hang it all up in. If needed, I also have a steamer, but steaming takes up shooting time so being prepared upon arrival is the better choice.


Finding the right photographer is the hardest part.  The rest is icing on the cake.  Speaking of icing, I don't recommend makeup for men for a headshot session.  Powder is acceptable if you have oily skin or pick up a tube of Peter Thomas Roth Max Anti shine Matifying Gel, which is a miracle worker on oily skin.  Make sure you have moisturized skin and your lips are free from chapping.  Bring lip balm with you the day of your shoot.  For both men and women, avoid using moisturizer with SPF as it can make your skin look shinier with the studio lights.  Women, your makeup should be clean and fresh.  No need to overdue it for your headshot session.  Avoid strong, hard eyeliner lines, and brows that are heavily penciled in or squared off with liner or even stamps.  Simply filling in bare areas is sufficient as well as cleaning up any stray hairs.  Women, bring lip gloss, balm or color.  When wearing color, it should compliment your skin tone, not take all the focus away from your other features.  Make sure the color stays within the outline of your lips.  Feel free to bring several shades along as you change outfits. Your foundation on your face needs to match your neck.  Bring everything with you for touch ups as we go along.

Hair should be clean and not recently cut.  Hair needs a week or so to settle in to a haircut.  I've had many cancellations due to haircuts that didn't go as planned or ended up shorter than intended.  Please bring your brush, hairspray, bobby pins and even a ponytail holder.  If you straighten or curl your hair, consider bringing those tools with you as well in case you need to make adjustments.

Men, to help eliminate razor burn and irritation, Headshot Photographer, Matthew from Philly states “if you are looking to get a clean shave look, make sure to use a new blade with shaving cream to avoid cutting yourself and prep the skin with a hot compress first. Try not to use an electric razor as they often leave a little bit of a stubble that will remain visible to the camera.”  Don't forget to rinse with cool water and pat dry and apply a good moisturizer.   Do you want photos with facial hair and without?  Schedule enough time and you can shave at the studio in between looks.  

If you wear glasses and have more than one pair, bring them all with you.  Different glasses will sit on your face differently and lenses react to the light differently as well.  Lenses with the anti glare coating is preferred.