What to wear for actor headshots

What to Wear for Actor Headshots

Deciding what to wear for actor headshots can be a daunting task. Headshots are an actors first impression for a submission to a casting notice, casting director, agent, manager, or network connection. Show business is a business, and the product is you. Your headshot represents the product you are selling so it must be a clear representation of what you’re offering. Any misrepresentations or misleading features will only result in a return upon delivery.

5 Tips what NOT to wear:

1. Jewelry & Accessories –

funny too much jewlery headshot Mr T Thespian Style

Jewelry & accessories are distracting and won’t be included upon delivery, and it’s common knowledge in the industry so it will most likely raise a red flag that you are “green.” If you always wear earrings, be cautious to minimalism and keep it simple. Watches are risky Mr. Bond.

2. Costumes –

doctor costume actors headshots thespian styleDon’t wear a lab coat and stethoscope unless you plan to only be a background actor. You can hint that you fit certain professions by wearing attire that those professionals wear in public on their day off. A doctor might wear a button-down and blazer. Other character types similar to white-collar professions dress relatively similar so you will make yourself appealing for a wider scope of roles by slightly hinting a specific profession with slight mystery.

3. Excessive & Dramatic Makeup –

Excessive & Dramatic Makeup actors headshots thespian styleLooking your best should not require covering your features. If you’re not showing up to every audition in the artificial mask you’ve designed, don’t do it. Less is more. If you plan on submitting to RuPaul’s drag race, schedule a separate shoot. Light foundation and some eye-liner is acceptable. Covering up your age or features will only deter opportunities that are a perfect fit for you.

4. Logos –

Distracting and backfire fuel. If the brand you’re representing on your calling card is unfavorable or a conflict of interest in the slightest capacity, you lose. When agents or casting directors submit you to a decision maker, their ass in on the line too; therefore, it’s always a liability to send a headshot with a brand attached. Avoid providing possible reasons for a “no.” Your competition will steal your role for any trivial detail, and you’ll never know.

5. Intricate designs or patterns 

Don’t let your attire outshine you. Let your face be the subject of attention. Your personality will glisten more against a contrasting simple background.

5 Tips What to wear:

1. Character Types –

Know your product. Dress the part. Knowing how others view you is just as important as how you view yourself. Of course you’re leading man or woman material, but you’ll have to build up to that marketability by portraying non-leading types first. Type-cast yourself by observing relatable actors and existing roles you would have been well-casted for, then ask friends and industry professionals to give their unbiased (honest) opinion of what they might cast you as. You may be surprised; whether you agree or disagree, their answer is probably how casting directors would cast you too. Some character types include:

Boy/Girl next door
Frat guy / Sorority girl
Young/Seasoned Wall Street
Best friend of opposite sex
Quirky hipster
Tough guy / Tom girl
Trendy mom
Sophisticated socialite

2. Less is More –

Don’t pigeon-hole yourself by getting too specific with the attire. Once you’ve identified a few character types, attempt to make it general enough to combine more than one specific character types that you’ve been assessed as. A sophisticated socialite that works on Wall Street with politician ambitions can all be represented in one outfit without a stretch. You simply want to plant a seed in the mind’s of gatekeepers, not hit smack them with a tree. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of others, you’re not the only one that can take a hint.

3. Soft/Muted Colors –

Let your clothing be the background that frames your face. Choose colors that compliment your eyes and skin tone without a contrasting shock. A trim of color that pops can be useful in grabbing initial attention but should not exceed a pause. If you’re indecisive if your pop is too much, it is. Your colors should be pleasing in fluidity and not cry for attention; steer clear from neon or bright.

4. Dress Comfortably –

The camera catches everything. If you are relaxed and feeling good, that’s what people will see and feel when they observe your headshot. If your clothing is restricting or itchy, you will look it and you’ll scare viewers away will your unwarranted tension.

If you ask 5 people, you’ll get 5 different opinions;

Don’t try to please everyone, it’s impossible.

Go with your gut instinct and make a strong choice. Have fun with your headshot experience and get it done by an experienced professional. Headshots should be your priority investment. You get what you pay for. When it comes to most headshot photograhers, you can choose only 2 of the following 3:

  1. Quality
  2. Speed
  3. Price

5. Exception to the 2/3 rule:

michael benabib laos motorcycle tour photographer nyc travel thespian style

If you’re an actor in New York, I highly recommend celebrity headshot photographer Michael Benabib. He’s experienced, consistent & inexpensive. Everyone I’ve sent to him leaves a happy customer with excellent headshots that best represents them. Plus, he’s got tricks to get of your head and have fun. Check him out, link provided below.


Digital Headshots NYC
1-212-683-4853 | [email protected]
275 5th Ave #3B, New York, NY 10016
Browse NYC Headshot Photographer Michael Benabib’s extensive gallery here: http://www.michaelbenabib.com/
Share your best or worst headshot in the comments for a feature or tag us @thespianstyle

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