How to Prepare for a Headshot Photo Shoot

What to Do Before Your Photo Shoot

Young woman at the hairdresser's
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Headshots are very important for an acting career.  In order to stay current and in order to have the most opportunities to be called in for auditions, actors need to keep their headshots up-to-date.  Before you have your next round of headshots taken, there are a few important things to do in order to capture a great photo to use as a new headshot!  I’ve compiled a few suggestions, intended for both guys and girls, for things to do prior to your next headshot photo shoot!

How Often Should Actors Have New Headshots Taken?

How often you shoot new headshots is ultimately up to you.  Many people in the entertainment industry have varying opinions on the answer to how often new photos should be taken.  Personally, I aim to upload a new photo at least every 6-12 months, and I suggest having a new “complete shoot” of headshots taken approximately every year to year and a half.  The reason for this is that your agent should be submitting your photos to casting directors daily, and therefore casting will be seeing your photos regularly.  You want to be sure that you have a variety of photos that you and your agent are submitting, and you want casting to know that you’re proactive in your career.  (Utilizing the same headshot for years will not show casting that you are constantly being proactive!)  

Once you (and possibly your talent representative) have determined a great headshot photographer for your next headshot session, you can plan for your shoot!  (Tips on how to find a great photographer are in my article about actor headshots here!)


Wardrobe:  Know Your Type 

The absolute most important thing to do to prepare for your headshot photo shoot is to know your "type" and know what roles you can believably portray as an actor.  When you understand your "type" you can plan on what you will wear to your photo shoot. You want to show who you truly are through your photos, and wearing clothing that is appropriate and in line with your "type" is important. Speak with your headshot photographer and your agent before the shoot so that you can plan what you want to capture during your shoot.  Sending photos of your wardrobe to your photographer is a great idea, so that he or she can also see what you’re going to wear.  For example, many of my auditions are for college-age roles; therefore I always plan one of my wardrobe “looks” for my photo shoots to reflect my type. When I recently decided to have new headshots taken, I spoke with  photographer Laura Burke prior to my photo shoot in order to decide what clothes to bring. Having this conversation proved to be very helpful (to the both of us) once I arrived for my session!  

At another headshot session which I recently had, the photographer wanted to capture numerous looks with many wardrobe changes in order to obtain photos of characters that I may be able to portray. This can be helpful, but remember, your primary goal should be to capture a photo that best represents who you are.  It is not necessary to obtain photos portraying you as being every single character that you theoretically could play.    

You'll also want to be sure to choose clothing and colors that will help to make certain features “pop,” such as your eyes and your smile.  (Speaking of your smile, make it a point to “whiten” your teeth before the shoot!)     


Hair style obviously plays an important role in the way that we look.  It's important that the way your hair looks in your headshot looks the same way that it does in real-life!  Remember:  your headshot should always look like you!  If you have a headshot taken and your hair style or hair color is different than you normally wear it, you are taking a risk when being called in for auditions.  Casting directors are not going to be happy if they call in an actor who has long blonde hair in the headshot and walks in the door as a short-haired brunette!  This does not mean that actors shouldn't change their hairstyles, but it does mean that when you do decide to change your hair, you should update your photos, too! 

Make-Up and Skin

It’s not necessary to go overboard with makeup - for men or women.  Too much make-up will be distracting, and it will not look natural if you wear a lot of it.  Headshots are not supposed to be “glamorous” shots.  They are supposed to be natural and look like you.  It should also be noted that if you are currently having some skin problems, don’t stress about it for your headshots!  You can always have your photos (lightly) re-touched if you see any unwanted blemishes.  Also, be sure to adequately moisturize your skin and drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your shoot.  Water will help keep your skin hydrated and looking great! 

I found some more tips about skin-care prior to a photo shoot here


Be sure that you have a great night of sleep before your photo shoot.  The camera picks up everything, and should you be tempted to “party-it-up” at the incredible clubs in Hollywood the night before a photo shoot, the results will show the next day!  Trust me:  I've made that mistake when I was younger.  Those headshots actually came out very nicely - with the exception of the bags underneath my eyes!  Plan for a restful evening the night before your shoot, and save the partying fro another night!  

Show Your Beautiful and Unique Self!

At your next photo shoot, simply be you.  Bring your personality to the shoot, and enjoy it!  The best photos are captured when we see the essence of who you are as an individual.  Show the camera how awesome you are!   

Note:  These tips can also be applied when preparing for to film your acting "reel."