7 Mistakes Actors Make with Headshot Sessions ( & tips to avoid them)

November 18, 2020

#1 | Choosing the wrong Photographer

This mistake, unfortunately, occurs far too often. As an actor myself, I’ve heard far too many horror stories of other actors spending WAY too much on headshots in Los Angeles and not getting nearly good enough headshots to justify the price. This is the first and arguably the most important step. When choosing the right photographer, you’re going to want to do your research. Read reviews, ask around, and make sure you choose a photographer that’s experienced and knows what their doing. Also, for local headshot photographers, it is a huge bonus to work with an individual who knows the area and can give you the best setting.

Though I wouldn’t say it’s required, I would suggest finding a photographer that’s also an actor as well. This way they will inherently understand what you need as an actor and will naturally relate to the way you best preform in front of the camera.

Here’s a quick checklist to refer back to when choosing a good photographer for headshots in Los Angeles:

  1. Great Lighting

    Find a photographer who lights well. Pass on the “friend with a camera” who doesn’t know very much about properly lighting a subject. Look for even lighting across the face, no harsh shadows, and good separation from the background.

  2. Accurate Colors

    Your headshots should look as natural as possible. When choosing a photographer, focus on ones that produce headshots that have great skin tones and accurately represent the actor. You want to avoid the photographers with crazy color cast or tints to their images, and look out for images that are to dull or ones that may be overly saturated

  3. Great Expressions

    A good way to tell if a photographer is engaging enough and does a great job coaxing strong looks out of an actor is to look at all the photographers portfolio as a whole and see if you can notice a strong range and diversity of facial expressions in the images. You’re going to want to see expressions that scream “I’m a strong actor” not ones that are generic happy or sad faces with absolutely no depth or personality to them. Your headshots in Los Angeles need to be perfect, and you need to be able to express yourself accurately.

#2 | Not knowing your character looks

Now this step is important, not only for headshot sessions but for any actor looking to hone their career. You want to know what you typically get cast for or get called for. Whether you get the tough guy look, or maybe the nerd, or even the love interest, you’re going to want to know your strengths and play towards that.

A great way to figure this out is to contact your agent or manager and ask for a submission sheet. This is typically a breakdown of all the auditions that you’ve been submitted for. From there you can comb back through your memory and write down the types of characters you auditioned for most. This will help you craft a great photo session for headshots in Los Angeles.

#3 | Bringing the wrong clothes

After Figuring out the previous step, you’re going to want to focus on matching up your wardrobe choices with the characters you typically go out for. The easiest way to do this is through google. Type in the name of the characters you’d like to play in your favorite tv shows, hit the “images” option in google, and then simply copy their outfits as closely as possible. This will ensure you get the exact look you’re aiming for in your headshots in Los Angeles.

A pro tip for bringing the best clothes is to always aim for colors that are flattering to your skin tone and bring out the color in your eyes. Usually earth tones work best. Local headshot photographers will use their knowledge of the surrounding area, coupled with your wardrobe, to give you the best tones for your shoot!

#4 | Skipping out on Hair/Makeup + General Beautifying

This step is very important and should start much earlier than you’d think. Getting good sleep before your session is just as important as getting your hair and makeup done but I widely overlooked. You want a fresh wide awake face on the day of your shoot. Dark circles and bags under your eye can definitely take away from the photos. And though, a photographer with great editing skills can help, it’s important for the rest of your acting career as well. You always want to be prepared to look and feel your best.

When it comes to hair and makeup, Oddly enough, I would say hair is more important than makeup. Unkempt sloppy hair is probably one of the most common offense actors make during headshot sessions. From a photographers perspective, crazy hair is nearly impossible to fix. So don’t skimp out on hair, be sure to hire a makeup artist to help keep you in tip top shape throughout your session, or at least spend a good amount of time getting your hair perfected before your shoot. This will ensure the perfect look for your headshots in Los Angeles.

#5 | Making the same faces

This is typically a mistake newer, more unexperienced actors make. The staple of a good headshot session is being able to show your range and your diversity in looks. You want to look at a collage of all your headshots from that session and be blown away as to how the same person is playing all these different characters. Local headshot photographers understand the market best, and can give you some suggestions for making the best facial appearance. Range is key for your headshots in Los Angeles.

The key to achieving success in a headshot session is warming up and stretching out your face muscles. You’re going to want to prepare them to be used in a myriad of different positions. Focus on your eyes, lips, eyebrows, jawline, and body position and how each aspect can drastically change facial expressions.

#6 | Boring body language

Body Language is crucial when it comes to sinking into each character you’re trying to bring to life in your headshots in Los Angeles. Many actors focus on just the neck up and forget that the rest of their body plays such a critical role on conveying emotion.

When you cross your arms, you immediately feel more guarded, this can come across as upset, or defensive, or even insecure. It all depends on how you position your body while keeping those arms crossed. This is true for nearly every other position. Whether you’re sitting, standing, hunched over, or slouched, your body position is so vital to producing an authentic headshot. Focus on moving around every 10 seconds ever so slightly. Mix up your positions and your brain will follow suit and grant you with an endless supply of new characters to bring to life.

#7 | Not getting a second opinion on final choices

And lastly, it’s important that after you have received your headshots in Los Angeles to get a second opinion from someone you trust that is also in the entertainment industry – on which headshots are the best for you to use. This someone can be another actor, your agent, manager, or even a casting director you may know.

Don’t worry so much about how you think you look yourself. Unfortunately,we aren’t the best judges of ourself, so as much as you can, remove yourself from the equation and trust the opinion of those around you.

Looking for more great insight into how to take great headshots? Check out our friend’s article over at PetaPixel: https://www.pixpa.com/blog/headshot-photography

If you’d like to book a headshot session with us, work with local headshot photographers, and experience these tips and tricks first hand:


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