“One of the biggest mistakes young actors (or those coming back to the business) make is getting a “generic” headshot—a blank smile, wearing your comfortable blue jeans or a hoody—instead of pointing out your most marketable roles.” -Gwyn Gilliss, Backstage




Now that my husband and I are living in Los Angles, he has started his path into acting.  So this is something we have both been learning together.  I had done plenty of headshots back in Wisconsin, with the soul purpose of helping entrepreuneus and small businesses get ‘seen’ in the busy, complicated web of social media.  Out here,  my task as a professional headshot photographer will be a little different – as acting headshots are a need I intend to help fill.

What makes good acting headshots?

When you submit to a project or role, your headshot is the first thing that a director sees.  Remember the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”, well that saying does not apply when it comes to acting in L.A.  Casting directors are busy,  so your headshot needs to stand out – fast!


Your headshot will determine what roles you will get.  It is great to pick three different characteristics that you can best portray.  This is especially important when you are a new actor just starting out.

“Casting directors or agents need to look at your headshot and know instantly your age range, where you are on the economic scale (upscale, middle class, blue collar, etc.), where you are on the attractive scale (despite what your mother tells you), your role in society (mom, educated professional, victim, CEO, etc.), and various aspects of your innate personality (sweet, friendly, gruff, powerful, etc.).” Backstage

Your acting headshots should look like you!  Casting directors want to fill the role just as bad as you do!  There  is no need to false advertise in this business. Who you are is who you are. Own it!  With almost 4 million people living in Los Angeles, its o.k to be different. Your headshot should be able to tell casting directors who you are, the essence of you.


Prior to your acting headshots photo session, write down what your best qualities are as an actor. Not an actor? Do it anyways! It’s good way to boost your self esteem!   Not sure, ask your friends!  Directors want to recognize you from your headshots, what parts do you want them to remember?


Last but not least, be yourself!  Don’t get your make up professionally done before hand, unless you plan on getting it done before every audition and on every set.  Have a clear idea of what you want before you head off to your photo shoot. Stay away from lots of jewelry and strange abstract patterns on your clothes. Pick colors that compliment your skin tone and bring out the color of your eyes.


Don’t forget to have fun!


Questions? Ready to Book?  Send me a message at stephanie@stephshanks.com or call me at 608-697-1419.


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