Actor Headshots: Showing Emotions

A Good Headshot Library:

I’ve often discussed headshot libraries. For actors, they’re incredibly important. They are an asset to you career, and a pathway to landing yourself in the room. While showing various characters is a great start (read more about that here), your headshots need to convey a range of emotions too.

Your library of headshots compliments your showreel, and they’re much quicker to look at and absorb. They need to be authentic and eye catching. So to properly show off your skills as an actor, a headshot library with a range of emotion is a great start.

What Shots To Have:

For variety, you don’t want to have eight different shots of you looking the same but with a different expression. Planning out a range of images to show various emotions, or characters, or to suit a part you want to play, will allow you to curate a collection of shots into a personal folio.

You need to find photographers with styles and work you like. You may want to use multiple photographers too. Some photographers have different focuses and strengths, or a particular style that will work well for some shots but not all. Start by jotting down ideas of what characters and emotions you want to show in your library.  Talk to your agent, teachers, peers, and industry professionals. Knowing your type is a great start, but having goals is a key too.

Write down what emotions and characters you want to show. Some ideas include: Serious, emotional, sassy, happy, intelligent, professional, funny, laid back, responsible. These various ideas fit within a range of characters and types, that can show your ability across a range of genres and roles.

What Shots To Avoid:

Wearing the same outfit for every shot/character/emotion. You want to show range with more than just your expression. Your face is important, but changing up the other elements within the image are too.

Having a limited range of shots. You may have five final images to select, and choose all of them to be smiling. This is already limiting your range. When you select your final edits, think down the track as to what you would like to use them for.

Having images that are contradictory in some way. Does the outfit/lighting/background fit within the emotion or character you are wanting to portray? Often during the shoot you will explore a range of emotions, expressions and poses within one outfit, lighting setup and background. This gives you great variety to choose from, but some expressions work better in one scenario than the other. Make sure the entire image flows.

The session with Aponi below shows a good range of various lighting and backgrounds, as well as a range of outfits, poses and expressions that bring a wide variety to her portfolio:

Preparing For Your Shoot:

Most importantly, once you have your headshot library goals, it is up to you to properly prepare for your acting headshot session. Practice expressions and poses in the mirror before you arrive. Find outfits that work well – you don’t need to be in a full on costume. If you don’t have anything suitable, borrow from a friend, or purchase something if you can. Bring it all on hangers and nicely ironed.

If you would like to work together to create a great headshot library, book with me online or contact me. You can see my full folio of headshots and portraits here, learn more about my sessions, and read about my packages and pricing.