Top 5 Headshot Tips

By Aislinn Ní Uallacháin / Head of Casting

Entertainment is a tricky industry where your look is sometimes as important as (or more important than) your talent or ability. If a production company is casting a project, they’ll usually have a very clear vision in their mind of how they want the overall piece to look, including the Talent. If you’re a performer, your Headshot is the first thing a Caster will look at and if they like the look of you, then they’ll look further into your CV, credits, skills, showreels etc. Your Headshot is what will get their attention right off the bat so it needs to be great! At Extras Ireland, I’m sent Headshots every day from performers and I have some tips here to help you based on what I see.

1. Show Your True Colours

Always make sure your Headshot is in colour! Black & White is deemed extremely old-fashioned and is now pretty much obsolete in the industry. You don’t want to come across as though you don’t know what the current industry norm is. Yes, we all look glamorous in Black & White but the point of your Headshot isn’t to look glamorous or artsy. It’s to present yourself as YOU. As a real, living, breathing person. We want to see the colour of your hair, eyes, skin etc to get a real sense of who you are. If you have a portfolio, absolutely include it in there but it shouldn’t be your main Headshot on your CV or your online profile, the first thing that people see. Make it easy for whoever is casting to get a sense of the real you.

2. It’s All in the Eyes

What do all of these people have in common? They’re hiding their EYES. As they say, the eyes are the windows to the soul – they’re also your ticket to getting cast. As humans, eyes are mostly what we use to connect. I’m often sent Headshots of people wearing shades, turned away from the camera or with their eyes closed. You might think this makes you look artistic but again, we need to see the real you. If you have a portfolio of shots, include them but it should never be your main Headshot that people will see first. Make it easy for others to connect with you. If you’re someone with a visual impairment, we’d still love to see your eyes! If you wear dark glasses, always send some shots of you wearing those too. 

3. Be Yourself

Make sure your Headshot always reflects the CURRENT you, not a previous version. Don’t be ashamed of looking different or older than you used to and embrace the way you look now. Be honest with Casting Teams about how you look because they want to know YOU, not you from fifteen years ago. You from fifteen years ago doesn’t exist anymore. Also, in light of the tip about Black and White, you can see that fifteen years ago it was the norm. Not anymore – always use colour.

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4. Why So Serious?

Performers are sometimes so eager to come across as professional, ambitious and serious about their work that their Headshots end up looking angry and aggressive. If you were casting a project, who would you rather have on your set? Remember that your Headshot should reflect who you really are and encourage people to want to work with you. Don’t give them a reason to be put off.

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5. Ask for Advice

Finally, it can be hard to choose your Headshot yourself – you might like how you look in a photo but it’s not necessarily the best reflection of who you are as a person or an artist. Your main Headshot (the one that Casters will see first) should represent YOU, not the characters you intend to play. If you have a portfolio, include the others there to show potential character interpretations. Ask for advice from someone who KNOWS you. They’ll be able to tell you which one represents the real you. This is the one that should always be at the top of your CV and the profile pic for any of your online profiles.

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If you’re in need of Extras, Actors or Models for your next Creative or Commercial Project, get in touch. We’d love to help. Simply email info@extrasireland.com or call us on (01) 634 3112 and let’s see how we can collaborate.