Ever wonder what people mean when they talk about a headshot? Most of the time, this refers to an 8x10 photo of an actor or a model, typically focusing on the face but also including the rest of the head and shoulders. Some “headshots” will even include as much as three quarters of the model’s or actor’s body, a shot called a “three quarter” shot.
If you are auditioning for roles as an actor or model, a headshot (or multiple headshots) is essential to the audition process.
The headshot, basically, is an actor’s business card. It’s given to the casting director or directors, so they can decide whether or not you have the “right look” for the part. You don’t want a “glamour” shot here; just something nice and professional.
A quality headshot should market you “as you are”, so you don’t want it to make you look any younger or older than you really are, for example. Still, the headshot should frame you in the most positive way possible, highlighting your best qualities. This headshot can sometimes even provide the casting director with a view into your character, or show your potential for a certain role that needs to be filled.
If a photographer promises you that their headshots are guaranteed to get you work, be wary—this isn’t entirely true. A good headshot will get your foot in the door, but it won’t get you hired if you can’t walk the talk with your acting skills.
Before the audition, your headshot is pretty much the only thing the casting director has to judge you by, so if it doesn’t grab the director’s attention quickly, you are probably out of luck. Without that great first impression, you will often get passed over for an audition.