Why do I need a headshot?

One of the first things an actor needs to do before beginning to audition professionally is to have a good quality headshot. This is your calling card. In many cases, it is even more important than your resume. It is what can get a casting director like myself to send you an email or to pick up the phone to schedule an audition. We cannot reiterate enough how important a good headshot is for an actor. It helps to build trust, adds credibility to your level of professionalism and increases engagement with casting directors.

Can’t I take my own with my cell phone?

Everyone has a phone with a camera these days, however,  taking a selfie on your phone does not qualify as a headshot. While it is exactly what it says, a picture of your head and perhaps even your shoulders, it should be taken by a professional photographer who can make you comfortable and help you capture the essence of what it is that makes you unique and special to the casting director. It’s very difficult to capture that by yourself.

What should I wear?

You will want to wear solid colored clothing that will draw attention to your face. Complementary colors to your skin tone are recommended. Bright patterns and any sort of writing or logo is not recommended. Having a professional makeup person and hairstylist is an option that several people take advantage of. You have to remember you want to look like yourself on your very best day, you do not want a glamour shot with a lot of makeup. It’s important that the face on the picture is the face of the person that walks in the door!

“I cannot tell you how many times I have received a headshot and then did not recognize the actual when they came to the audition. That is the absolute worst thing that can happen. Why do you ask? Well, that’s because it makes me wonder if the actor is aware of who they actually are. Are they trying to sell themselves or something they’re not? Or are they completely unaware of the difference between the reality of who they are as an actor and with this picture portrays?” -Midge McClosky (Executive Director, The Shawnee Playhouse)

Headshot versus Portrait

People in all professional careers find having a headshot useful for various events and situations in their careers. Everyone who finds themselves needing a picture should use a headshot photographer and not a portrait specialist. A portrait can be very lifeless. A headshot should show your personality. It should show the world who you are at one glance!

Setting up your professional photoshoot

Here are a few tips for setting up your professional photoshoot As you take steps in setting up your professional photo-shoot, consider these nine suggestions from Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling book, “Platform: How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World.”


  • Hire a Professional Photographer

I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s an investment

  • Negotiate for All Rights to your photos

So you can use the shots freely

  • Don’t shoot in a studio

You want natural, comfortable and welcoming

  • Wear something appropriate

Think of your audience you want to reach and the job/opportunity you are pursuing

  • Take lots of photos

Variety is the spice of life, and you are many not be using them all for what you originally intended

  • Look into the lens

See the person you would be interacting within the camera lens. Yes, get some more candid photos, too, but make sure you get one straight-on.

  • Smile – with your whole face and mean it!

No matter what your confidence level, a small with your entire face connects with people

  • Crisp the photo tightly

Also, try the bokeh (blur) method for the background allowing for the emphasis to be on you

  • Pick one main photo

This main photo is the “horse” you are riding for a consistent message throughout your personal branding efforts.

Headshots at The Shawnee Playhouse

We are very blessed at the Shawnee Playhouse to have a company photographer who works with us on all of our productions. Kenneth Card not only takes incredible mid-performance action shots while he is photo journaling each and every one of our productions, but he also takes beautiful headshots for our actors both in the studio and on location. This is a huge benefit for our actors because they already know him. This allows them to feel even more comfortable during the shoot and ultimately results in even better pictures.

We have asked Kenneth to make himself available to our community to take pictures for one day this year. It’s coming up soon! March 7 is this workshop day. You can register for a slot on our website at www.theshawneeplayhouse.com for only $75! You have absolutely no excuse to not have a headshot at that price!