Why Most Actor’s Headshots are Killing Their Acting Career

Why Most Actor’s Headshots are Killing Their Acting Career


I love casting directors, they have a really tough job and I respect them. But something I say here may not sound very respectful. Equally, I respect headshot photographers, but some things that I might say here could sound less than respectful, but it’s not intended. I am speaking to actors, and I am helping them to understand something essential about how their headshots are preventing CDs (Casting Directors) from seeing them in roles.


A great headshot is a portrait: a 10 x 8, colour photo of your face, head, neck and sometimes shoulders.

A lot of headshots do not help the actor. A particular type of headshot could be killing your acting career. The generalist neutral headshot. The one that makes you look bloody wonderful in colour or black and white, but is essentially neutral and struggles to suggest any type at all -  it’s almost impossible to imagine you in any specific character roles.

When you know and understand your casting type, you can tailor your marketing towards that particular brand. For that reason, your headshots need to fit in with your branding. I understand that Headshot Photographer might hate that, but if your marketing doesn’t suit your branding, then it won’t help and it’s killing your chances. It’s potentially killing your acting career. And then the most beautiful headshots in the world won’t help like they can if they fit your branding.


The idea that headshot photographers have that you should let the CD make their own decision is good, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help. It may even hurt.

If you have three types, NERD, BULLY and WEIRDO, a plain neutral headshot doesn’t help the CD find ANY of those types in you. Or it suggests that a neutral headshot somehow DOES suggest those three types - well that’s not true.


CDs aren’t paid to be imaginative, no offence, they just aren’t. They are paid to fit the perfect round peg into the perfect opportunity round hole. So with the best will in the world, if you haven’t defined your casting type, and then got headshots which support that, those headshots are not helping the CD choose you.

I don’t mean that you should turn up to your headshot photographer ‘in character’, but if there ARE things you can do, to help bring your headshots in line with your overall branding, then you should. Glasses, beard, shirt and tie - these things can all help. Your photos MUST support the branding that you are going for.

I know a client who had a neutral headshot for years as her first choice on both her website and the casting website. It was a very attractive shot, she looked amazing - it’s obvious why it’s the first choice. But she was seen for relatively few roles until she changed her primary photo to the one that was closest to her branding, Corporate Senior Management. Suddenly, from nowhere the auditions are coming in thick and fast. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

But how do you determine your brand - your casting type? That’s tomorrow’s post on Discovering your Casting Type or Brand.



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