Headshots

In theater, film, and television, actors, models, singers, and other entertainers are often required to include a head shot, along with their résumé, when applying for a job. These head shots are usually more artistic: they intend to portray the subject in the best possible light. Head shots often feature the actor or actress facing off-center. A performer will often have head shots expressing different poses and expressions to give a potential employer an idea of the subject’s range of appearances or expressions. These types of head shots are called “looks”. It is common for an actor to have different head shots for different roles, but for the most part these consist of a change in attire. The head shots that include a person’s shoulders are called “three-quarter” shots. Previously, head shots were often in black-and-white; however, most head shots are now taken in color.

Actors’ head shots, when printed and not simply uploaded online to an industry database, are done in an 8″×10″ format. Other promotional images, for example, press shots and lobby prints, may be in many different aspect ratios. Acting head shots are often not photographic prints, instead they are typically printed via a lithographic or laser process.

The main purpose of an actor’s head shot is identification. Therefore, the most important feature of an actor’s head shot is that it represents the subject. Theatrical head shots are usually very “neutral” looking shots of the actor clearly showing their facial features.

Head shots are intended to show a person as they currently appear and reflect their best qualities. Therefore, if an actor’s hair has been recently cut or colored, they would often get a new head shot to reflect their new image. Additionally, if an actor has a scar or facial blemish, it is expected to be visible on the head shot and not digitally removed from the image. Pimples or spots are temporary and, therefore, are usually digitally retouched.