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Four Things Your Headshot Needs to Communicate to Casting

Four Things Your Headshot Needs to Communicate to Casting

Let’s face it: we’re living in the age of the selfie.

Without a doubt, our generation is more accustomed to having our photo taken than any that came before. We’re walking around with cameras in our pockets, commemorating every greeting, parting, and joke—but those shots don’t need to get us anything but a few likes. Your headshot? That’s a photo that’s gotta do some WORK.

A great headshot isn’t just about making you look your best—it’s about communicating to casting who you are and what sort of roles you can play. And with only one shot to make that impression, there are things your headshot absolutely needs to communicate, in order to give casting a reason to click that thumbnail.

1. You’re Professional

Just because we’ve all taken photos before doesn’t mean every shot is equal—and the gravest mistake any actor can make with a headshot is snapping one themselves on a smartphone, like it’s their personal Twitter profile. When scrolling through page after page of well-lit, professional shots, your smartphone-selfie sends the message that you don’t take the industry seriously… so maybe you don’t take your acting seriously, either. A professional, well-composed headshot is an investment that places you on the same playing-field as the most successful actors out there—so save the quirky candids for Instagram stories.

2. Your ‘Hit’

We get it… casting is an inexact science and nobody likes to be judged from looks alone. But in a visual industry like ours, there are visual cues that tell casting how directors and audiences will see you. Are you a man with a long ponytail and tattoos on his neck? Chances are you’ll get to audition for gritty roles more often than the friendly Walmart Dad. And playing towards your hit isn’t a bad thing; it can make a lot of strategic sense to lean into what the camera sees of you.

Think about the kind of roles that you’d be a fit for, and then consider your wardrobe and body language in your headshot. Is your hit an intelligent doctor/lawyer? Think business casual, upright, confident. Are you more likely to audition as the troubled-teen? Cooler clothes, seated posture—and toss in a disaffected expression, to boot.

We’re all brilliant thespians capable of playing a myriad of roles beyond our hit—but leaning into your hit gets you invited into more auditions. Once you’re there, you can show off your chops and get them to see you for all you can be. But first? Your headshot needs to open that door.

3. You’re Confident

Ever heard of ‘microexpressions?’ They’re what happens in our faces when a voluntary and involuntary emotional response collides with one another. Why should you care? Well it means that if you’re nervous, reserved, or bashful when having your headshots taken, we’ll be able to see that—even hidden behind the big friendly smile on your face.

Studies show that humans are innately capable of reading moods and expressions on people’s faces—heck, recent studies show that even dogs can tell when we’re tense and nervous, from our faces alone. That’s why it’s important to book a professional photo session with someone who understands the awkward nerves you’ll be experiencing and is capable of helping you clear your mind and put you at ease.

Because above all else, your photo needs to communicate that you know who you are and what you’re capable of.

4. What you look like TODAY

We know, we know… this one should be obvious. But the number one complaint about headshots from Casting Directors in Toronto? “That photo is so old!”

There is nothing more frustrating for casting than calling you in for an audition only to find out that your hair/weight/style has changed dramatically since back when the headshot was taken. There’s no excuse for an outdated headshot—but beyond that, even if your appearance hasn’t changed, refreshing your headshot is good for business. When casting scrolls through images, having a fresh look appear gives then reason to pause on you—and every second that casting is thinking about you is incredibly valuable.

When you go in for your next headshot photo session in Toronto, make sure you consider more than your hair and makeup. Ask yourself what you want your headshot to say about you, what roles you’d be great for—and don’t be afraid to tell your headshot photographer exactly what you’re hoping to achieve.