The Right Headshot


As I advance my own career as a  Toronto headshot photographer, I have come to meet and talk to all kinds of people in the film and TV industry from casting directors, makeup artists and of course actors and I have learned along the way that there is more than one type of headshot. Unfortunately some of the actors I meet fail to realize this, especially those new to acting and just starting out. In another article I will touch on why you need to pay for a professional headshot and not use that bar selfie or the picture your uncle took of you while on vacation with his “expensive camera”. In this article I plan on touching on one of the biggest gripes actors have who come see me, NOT GETTING WORK or not doing the type of work they want!

You need to gear your headshot to the type of work you want, and yes that may mean having more than one headshot. I have broken it down below to help you before your next headshot session.

Commercial Headshots
Are designed to appeal to the advertising industry. The purpose of a commercial is to sell or promote a certain product or service. With your commercial headshot, you want to figure out what demographic you fall into. It is important for the personality types in commercials to be easily identifiable since you only have a very short time to connect with your audience. Keep in mind; commercial headshots are really about that broader appeal.

The question is often asked with Commercial headshots do I smile or not? I have to say smiling is recommended. You really want your energy to show through in a commercial headshot shoot. If you typically play tougher characters, your commercial shot should be your character on a good day. Your commercial headshot must be relatable and engaging, not just some stuck on smile, with a pose and head tilt.

Typically, in your commercial headshot you want to convey it to be warm, bright and inviting. You want to come off as likable to your audience. I prefer for people to wear a colours that pop. Nothing like crazy colours together like a rainbow, but tones that tend to work well for getting attention to a shot without overshadowing the actor. I would recommend you stay away from blacks or greys as the will take away attention from the warmth and energy of the shot.

Theatrical Headshots
Are geared for those looking to be cast in plays, TV shows, and films. With your theatrical headshot, you want to see the depth of the actor’s personality. In general terms, theatrical headshots show a little more emotional depth than a commercial headshot. In commercial headshots, it is almost imperative to come through as trustworthy so you can sell a product. Theatrical headshots, you are selling an identifiable personality type, whether it’s a trustworthy one or not.

With theatrical headshots they are thought of as confident expressions without a smile, but it should depend on the types of roles and characters you are going out for. Sometimes a knowing if a smirk or vulnerability behind the eyes better demonstrates who you are as an actor. Not all theatrical shots need to be stoic and serious.

In considering your wardrobe selection for a theatrical headshot, try and think of the types of characters you will audition for and that will determine your wardrobe selections in theatrical headshot shoot. I would try and stay away from black or white shirts. I find that earth tones can be rich in color to stand out, but still subtle enough to give focus to the actor.