What makes a Rubbish Headshot?

First impressions count.

When a casting director (or CD) opens up your application the very first thing they will look at are your headshots. 

And it’s often right there that 90% of actors will get eliminated from the casting.

After some excellent feedback from casting directors and other industry professionals, we’ve put together this simple guide to what your headshots should never, ever, look like.

And we can’t stress enough how important this is.

If your headshots aren’t working, you won’t get auditions, so make sure you read this carefully and if your headshots match any of these… then think very seriously about getting them changed!

Rubbish headshots look nothing like the real you

If you don’t look like your headshot then the CD will get very annoyed and never call you again. They hate this.

Practical tips:

  1. Don’t plaster on makeup when you take the headshots
  2. If you change your hairstyle or hair colour or look drastically, then get new headshots done
  3. Don’t retouch the headshots to remove blemishes or wrinkles
  4. If the pictures are more than a couple of years old… get new ones because you’ve changed in that time!
  5. Keep it real!

The only reason a CD will call you in for an audition (especially if they don’t know you) is because they want someone who looks like the photo you’ve sent so if you don’t look like the photo, you are wasting their time and they feel cheated – it’s bait and switch when it comes down to it.

Sexy headshots are rubbish headshots

Never, ever, send a headshot like any of these if you want to be taken seriously as an actor.

It’s fine for a glamour shot or to send your lover, but as a headshot if you include cleavage, too much bare skin, pouting, swimming costumes, or underwear then the CD will simply bin the application. 

Rubbish headshots aren’t professional

If a CD opens an application where the headshots are not professional, they won’t even consider you because the most important thing an actor needs to be is professional; without this you won’t get a start in the industry.

Practical tips:

  1. Don’t use a “holiday snap” or anything else
  2. Make sure it’s done with pro lighting and a good camera (not a camera phone – that’s not professional)
  3. Get it done in a studio or good location – you might think you look cool on the beach with your friends but a casting agent is going to see your holiday photo and immediately think you’re an amateur and delete it along with your chances of being in the film.

When we’ve been casting we’ve had photos come through of a so-called actor with a couple of friends sitting in a café. Not only was it not a professional photo, but the actor didn’t even tell us which one he was in the picture!

So really we’re saying get the headshot from a professional photographer – it’s going to cost but it’s always a good investment because cheap headshots are throwing money away.

Rubbish headshots aren’t truthful

We’re not talking about re-touching or make-up here, we’re talking about your “style” or your “vibe” or your “type“.

If your photos scream “tough” or “sexy” or “frightened” and you show up completely the opposite and it’s really not you… well then your headshots are wrong.

Again, the CD will be annoyed and you won’t get another audition from them.

Remember, you are selling your type so you have to portray that or the CD will feel cheated.

Rubbish headshots try to be clever

Do what everyone else does and what the CD expects. Don’t, whatever you do, try to stand out from the crowd by being “different” or “edgy” or “weird”.

This means you send classic headshots with full face, expressive eyes, and no distracting background. 

In other words, send professionally shot headshots.

Because a “weird” expression, a “funny” standout photo, a “clever” setting… will end up in the bin.

In other words, see what makes a good headshot and follow the rules.

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