How to Prepare for Acting Headshots (2023)

In the entertainment industry, there are two types of actor headshots: legit and commercial. Legit headshots are typically more dramatic and serious in tone, while commercial headshots tend to be more upbeat and approachable.

Legit headshots are often used for roles in theater, drama, and other serious productions. They usually feature the actor looking serious, contemplative, or even brooding. These headshots often have a darker or more subdued color palette, and may include dramatic lighting or shadows. The purpose of legit headshots is to convey a sense of depth and emotional range, showcasing the actor's ability to portray complex and nuanced characters.

Commercial headshots are used for roles in advertising, sitcoms, and other more lighthearted productions. These headshots are often more brightly lit and feature the actor with a smile or a playful expression. Commercial headshots may also include bright, bold colors and a more cheerful, upbeat tone. The purpose of commercial headshots is to showcase the actor's approachability and likability, and to convey a sense of friendly charm that will appeal to audiences.

In summary, the difference between legit and commercial headshots lies in their tone, style, and intended use. Legit headshots are serious and dramatic, while commercial headshots are more lighthearted and approachable. Understanding the differences between these two types of headshots can help actors select the right photos to showcase their skills and appeal to potential casting directors.


Headshots New York aspires to give subjects more freedom and flexibility to express themselves in front of the camera, allowing for a more natural and authentic result. Jason remains open and receptive to the moment and the subject's individual energy and presence as the starting point.

In combining this approach with detailed direction Jason strives to create a connection between the camera and the subject, and to capture an authentic representation of the subject's personality and energy.

Color vs Black-and-White

When deciding between color and black-and-white for headshot photography, there are pros and cons to consider for each option. Color photography provides a more realistic representation of the subject's appearance, making it suitable for commercial purposes and creating an emotional connection with the viewer but color can be distracting and may detract from other important qualities of the subject, such as their character or personality. Additionally, editing color photographs can be challenging and time-consuming.

Black-and-white photography has a timeless quality that can convey a sense of nostalgia or classic elegance. The lack of color allows for a focus on the subject's form and texture, making it effective in capturing mood or character. Editing black-and-white photographs is often easier as it is simpler to adjust contrast, brightness, and other image attributes. Black-and-white photography may limit the realistic representation of the subject's appearance, particularly in terms of skin tone and it may not be as aesthetically pleasing or attention-grabbing as color photography, making it less suitable for commercial purposes.

In conclusion, the choice between color and black-and-white for headshot photography depends on your goals and preferences, as well as the intended use of the photographs. Both options have their advantages and drawbacks, and the decision should be made based on the desired aesthetic and the message that the photographs are meant to convey.


  1. Keep it simple: The focus of your headshot should be on your face, not your clothes. Choose simple, solid-colored clothing that won't distract from your features. Avoid busy patterns or logos, which can be distracting and take away from the focus of the photo.
  2. Stick to neutral colors: Neutral colors like black, white, gray, and beige are always a good choice for headshots. They're timeless and won't go out of style, and they won't clash with the background or lighting of the photo. Dress appropriately for the role: If you're hoping to get cast in a particular type of role, it can be helpful to dress the part for your headshot. For example, if you're hoping to be cast in a business or finance role, consider wearing a suit or dress shirt. If you're hoping to be cast in a more casual role, you might opt for a simple t-shirt or sweater.
  3. Pay attention to fit: Make sure your clothing fits well and is flattering to your body type. Avoid clothing that is too tight or too loose, as this can create unflattering lines and wrinkles in the photo.
  4. Bring options: It's always a good idea to bring a few different clothing options to your headshot session, so you can try different looks and see what works best. Make sure to choose clothing that you feel comfortable and confident in, as this will come across in the final photos.
Overall, the goal of your headshot is to showcase your personality and unique features, so make sure your clothing choices reflect that. Keep it simple, stick to neutral colors, dress appropriately for the role, pay attention to fit, and bring a few options to try.


Makeup and makeup artists play a crucial role in actor headshot photography. A good makeup artist can help an actor look their best and create a polished, professional look that will help them stand out to casting directors and agents.

When it comes to actor headshots, the goal is to capture an image that accurately represents the actor's appearance and personality, while also highlighting their unique features and attributes. A skilled makeup artist can help achieve this by using makeup to enhance the actor's natural beauty, cover up any blemishes or imperfections, and create a look that is appropriate for the specific role or project they are targeting.

Makeup artists can also work with the photographer to ensure that the lighting and camera settings are optimized for the actor's skin tone and makeup. This can help to prevent any unwanted shadows or reflections that could detract from the final image.

Additionally, makeup artists can also help with hair styling and wardrobe selection, which can be crucial for creating a cohesive and visually appealing headshot. A well-coordinated look can help an actor convey their personality and style, while also making them more memorable to casting directors and agents. Overall, makeup and makeup artists are essential components of actor headshot photography, and can play a significant role in helping an actor get noticed and land roles in the competitive entertainment industry.


Retouching and post-production can enhance the quality and appearance of headshot photographs in various ways. Here are some benefits:

  1. Correcting Imperfections: Retouching can remove blemishes, wrinkles, and other imperfections that may detract from the subject's appearance. This can help create a more polished and professional look for the headshot.
  2. Enhancing Features: Post-production can enhance the subject's eyes, teeth, and hair, bringing out their best features and making them appear more attractive.
  3. Color Correction: Color correction can improve the overall color balance and tonality of the photograph, creating a more appealing and natural-looking image.
  4. Creative Effects: Post-production can also add creative effects such as color grading or selective focus, adding an artistic touch to the headshot.
  5. Consistency: Retouching can ensure that all headshots have a consistent look and feel, which is particularly important for corporate or commercial purposes.
  6. Removing Distractions: Post-production can remove distracting elements in the background or foreground, allowing the viewer to focus on the subject.
  7. Adapting to Different Formats: Post-production can also adapt the headshot for different formats, such as social media profiles, websites, or printed materials.

Acting Headshot NYC

It's important to note that excessive retouching can also have negative effects, such as making the subject appear unrealistic or inauthentic. Therefore, it is essential to strike a balance between enhancing the image and maintaining the subject's natural appearance. In conclusion, retouching and post-production can bring significant benefits to headshot photography, including correcting imperfections, enhancing features, and creating a consistent look. However, it is important to use these techniques in moderation and to maintain the natural appearance of the subject.

Hair and Grooming

Hairstyling and grooming are crucial elements when shooting actor headshots, as they can significantly impact the overall look and feel of the image. A good hairstylist can enhance the actor's appearance, accentuating their best features and making them look their best. Additionally, professional hairstyling and grooming communicates to potential employers that the actor takes their craft seriously and is willing to invest in their appearance. It can create a polished and put-together look that can make a great impression on casting directors.

Moreover, the hairstyle and grooming can also convey the character that the actor is trying to portray. For instance, if the actor is auditioning for a role of a tough guy, a scruffy or messy hairstyle could be more fitting. Alternatively, if the actor is going for a clean-cut, corporate look, a neat and tidy hairstyle would be more appropriate. In this way, the hairstyle and grooming can work together with the actor's performance to create a cohesive and powerful image.

Furthermore, the hairstyle and grooming can complement the actor's wardrobe, creating a cohesive look that ties the whole image together. A skilled hairstylist can work with the actor and the wardrobe to create a look that enhances the overall aesthetic of the headshot. In conclusion, hairstyling and grooming play an important role in creating compelling actor headshots. They can enhance the actor's appearance, communicate professionalism, convey character, and complement the wardrobe, all of which can help to create a powerful and engaging image that stands out to potential employers.


Wardrobe accessories can be used to add visual interest and variety to actor headshots, as well as convey character or personality. For example, hats can add a touch of style and personality to an actor's headshot and can be used to convey a certain character or era. Scarves can add texture and visual interest to an actor's headshot and can be used to add color or to complement the actor's outfit. Jewelry can be used to add sparkle and shine to an actor's headshot and can be used to convey a certain character or style. Glasses can add a touch of intellectualism or professionalism to an actor's headshot and can be used to convey a certain character or style.

When choosing accessories for headshots, it's important to consider how they complement the actor's outfit and how they help to convey the desired character or style. Accessories should be chosen with the overall aesthetic of the headshot in mind, and they should enhance the actor's appearance rather than detract from it. With the right accessories, an actor's headshot can be transformed into a compelling and visually engaging image that stands out to potential employers.

More information about acting headshots

Backstage also offers comprehensive information for actors seeking acting headshots advice here.