Treat Your Headshots Like a Casting Session to Get More Work

JessicaSherman-LaCasting-SQUARE-1by Jessica Sherman

Most actors I know have similar questions when considering their headshot goals. “What should I wear? Should I have my hair and make-up done? Should I shave between looks?” The list goes on.

What’s interesting is that few talk about the genres they want to participate in, or the types of projects they see themselves excelling in.

Headshots are step one of a casting session, plain and simple. They’re your first chance to show casting directors, agents and managers what kind of actor you are. Why not be specific about your acting goals when consulting your photographer?

Your chances of getting auditions are greater when your head shots speak volumes about who you are, rather than if they are solely flattering.

As a headshot photographer, I encourage my clients to treat their shoot like a casting session to elicit strong, expressive photos. 

It’s important to communicate how your representatives feel you’re most marketable in this stage of your career. When you’re growing your credits, the “type” your acting teachers and agents advise will earn you most of your initial auditions is a good place to start with your shot list. When you’ve established yourself, positive referrals and a dynamic reel will foster opportunities to tap into your range and demonstrate your versatility.

Let’s consider type.  If you’ve been told you’re a: leading lady or man, ingenue, character, soccer Mom, attorney, etc., try to get more specific. Consider your possible realities: what culture do you identify with? Have you overcome a great obstacle or been enlightened? Do you have trust issues? Are you approachable? Free-spirited? Eccentric? Ask yourself these questions (and more) to evoke your truth.

While it’s impossible to demonstrate in a headshot that you’re skilled in a dialect or historical speech pattern (your resumes will), it’s possible to suggest you’re right for these kind of roles.  Physical and emotive qualities such as posture and point of view can influence impressions.

Maybe you think it’s overkill, but isn’t this exactly what you would do for an audition or a performance? If there are 3 actors up for one role who match up well with the rest of the cast, chances are, the director hires the one who most clearly demonstrates his or her truth.

The next time you shoot, bring this level of performance to a headshot session to give casting directors an immediate sense of the roles you could read for.


Jessica’s performance-geared approach to headshots is a result of working both sides of the camera. To consult her about your goals and schedule a shoot, visit her website.

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