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  • James Drury

Actor Headshot Prep

The aim of the headshot session is to create a series of images that are flattering but realistic. We want to capture what you look like, your character and a range of emotions that generate a warm confidence & interest in the viewer. This is a subtle but important difference between a formal portrait and an actor’s headshot.


There is no hard time limit, but 60-90 mins is usually plenty of time. If we overrun, no problem, I don't want you feeling pressured or rushed in any way; it’s just important we end up with a set of images that we are both happy with. I’ll share the images with you during the session and we’ll review what works best for you in terms of mood, clothing and backdrop colour combination (I have several different colours with subtle textures).

Headshot Photographers tend to have their own unique style. To give you an idea of my specific style and what we are aiming for in the shoot, please look at the Headshot section of my website

You don’t need to prepare anything before the session but it is worth considering what roles you might usually go for? Is there a specific ‘look’ or emotion you want to capture? If you are a young actor just starting out or highly experienced, you may want to keep your options wide open. Either way, I’ll provide clear directions throughout the session and use several different techniques to achieve a variety of emotions in your images.

Clothing – important - please bring a selection of tops (at the very least four) Go for solid colours that suit you or match / compliment your eye colour. Ideally, bring a black top but please avoid pure white, patterns and large logos. Consider both collars and open neck tops. Think layers; the addition of a jacket or cardigan can really enhance a shot. Please avoid chains or earrings that might distract the viewers eye.

Make-up - please keep it subtle, think about how much you would wear for an audition. Remember we are aiming for a natural look; excessive amounts will defeat the purpose of the session. Please avoid 'Shiny' foundation, but if you do use foundation, it's much better for photography to use a 'Matt' finish and to bring your preferred Matt finishing powder to the shoot.

If you are prone to dry or chapped lips, please use lip balm in the run up to the shoot and bring some along with you. Don’t worry about spots or pimples; ‘transitory blemishes’ are easily removed in Photoshop. Please do not try to hide them with concealer or make-up.


Hair - please don't have it cut especially for the session, it might look a little too neat & tidy and run the risk you feel self-conscious. If you have long hair, it’s a good idea to take shots with your hair up and down as it often makes a huge difference to your appearance and casting age. It’s good for Spotlight & your portfolio to capture both.

Men – do you want to shoot clean shaven or with some growth? It’s no problem to shave halfway through the shoot if you want to capture both looks.

Finally... try and get a good night's sleep before the session and make sure you are hydrated. Don't over think the session, just relax, listen to directions and enjoy yourself.


I hope this Actor Headshot Prep Sheet has been useful, but please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions, you can find my Contact Page here


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