Whether you enjoy taking headshots or are looking for something to shoot between your other sessions or trying to fill in those cold off season months many of us know and dread, headshots are a great way to bring in some income. I am going to share some of my experience with working with Actors and Actresses for their head shots.

It is important for Actor/Actresses to keep up-to-date headshots that reflect how they look when meeting with casting directors/auditions.

creating headshots for actors photography tutorial by Jessica Lutz

How to get in touch with Actors.

Getting in touch with local community theaters, drama clubs as well as college/university theater and performing arts departments are a great start. Teaming up with a local MUA (Makeup Artist) and working together on packages for actors then reaching out to theater groups and offering your services to them at a special rate if they refer their actors to you is a great way to get yourself into the market.

creating headshots for actors photography tutorial by Jessica Lutz

What Should They Wear?

It’s important your actors/actresses are comfortable in what they are wearing so their confidence comes through. I ask that they bring two separate looks. One relaxed and more comfortable (i.e. jeans and a tee – no logos, brands, words, or anything distracting) and another more dressed up semi casual or “edgy” but professional look (i.e. nice solid color top with a few accessories for the ladies and a buttoned dress shirt for the guys). A leather and/or nice jacket over the casual tee look can aid in a different look. I will ask that the second, more dressed up look, be something that reflects what they might wear to an audition (semi casual but professional). As for makeup, for the ladies, you want them to look natural. Having them go to a professional MUA, or one you’ve teamed up with, who can perfect the look of bringing out their natural beauty without making them look too done up or too unlike themselves.

creating headshots for actors photography tutorial by Jessica Lutz

What you should ask them?

When your actor/actresses arrive for their shoot take a few moments to get to know them. Ask them about their acting careers thus far and where they are hoping to take it. What type of acting they do, the kind of acting they would love to do, characters they’ve played and so forth. Talking with them breaks away any shyness of working with a stranger and being in front of the camera. While they are used to being in front of the camera or an audience, they may not be used to modeling and posing and will rely on your guidance. Relaxing them is key to getting them to really bring themselves out in the photos. Getting to know them a little will benefit you both and the photos.

creating headshots for actors photography tutorial by Jessica Lutz

In Studio or On-location?

This can depend on various factors. The actor’s agent may request they obtain a traditional studio headshot or  they may ask for something a little more fun and creative then you can venture outdoors, weather permitting of course. When shooting on location be aware of the surroundings and your angles. You don’t want the background to be overly distracting.  I like to shoot a few in studio headshots and a few on location. This gives them variety when submitting for a casting and they can supply an image that best suits the role they are going for.

creating headshots for actors photography tutorial by Jessica Lutz

Light up those eyes!

As portrait photographers, we know the importance of lighting up our subject’s eyes to bring them to life. This is very important for headshots. You want to draw that casting director in with those lit up eyes along with direct eye contact.

creating headshots for actors photography tutorial by Jessica Lutz

Post Processing.

When it comes to processing  actor’s headshots, it’s important to remember they are not fashion/beauty portraits. Minor retouching (skin: proper skin tones, blemish removal, slight airbrushing) is fine but no over the top enhancing. A clean edit and natural skin tones are very important.

creating headshots for actors photography tutorial by Jessica Lutz

Well, those are some of my tips for doing an Actor’s headshots. I encourage you to get in touch with a local MUA you could brainstorm a collaborative package with and reach out to your local performing arts community. And if you’re a little nervous to jump right in, practice on a friend! I’d suggest your children but we know they all have Photographer’s Child Syndrome. 😉