What is a Headshot?

A headshot is an 8 X 10 (usually black and white, but sometimes color) close-up photograph of a model or actor. The photograph usually covers the actor from his or her head to their shoulders. On the back of the headshot, actors attach their acting résumé (similar to a traditional business résumé) that contains details about the actor’s training and experience. Actors use the headshots and résumé to obtain acting jobs by submitting them to casting directors or by having their agents do it for them.

A good headshot should:
-Closely resemble what the actor looks like in real life. The headshot should accurately depict the actor’s current weight and hairstyle, for example. That way, there are no surprises. When a casting director sees the actor’s headshot, they know that that is what the actor will look like in person.
-Depict the actor as warm, friendly and interesting.
-Fit the actor’s type. For example, if an actor is the stereotypical, All-American woman, the actor’s headshot should accentuate that look. This is important for casting purposes, because an actor can get more auditions if they fit a certain “type” or category.
-Depict the actor in a basic appearance. The actor should not wear excessive makeup or jewelry, or dress in a costume of any sort.

What Are the Different Options For Headshots?

After an actor has completed a photo session, they can complete the important task of reproducing the headshots. These headshots can be produced with different finishes: glossy, semi-gloss or matte. They also come with various styles and looks, such as color, black-and-white, with borders and without borders.

Glossy Finish Headshot

A glossy finish headshot is one where the front surface of the photograph is shiny. The headshot appears polished and clean and has a modest glow to it.

Matte Finish Headshot

A matte finish is a type of finish on a headshot photograph that is not sharp and shiny like that of a glossy finish. Whereas a glossy finish may stand out more, a matte finish is more subdued and flatter. A matte finish may also cost less than a glossy finish.

Semi-Gloss Finish

While a glossy finish is shiny and stands out and a matte finish is flat, a semi-gloss finish is one that is moderately flat and glossy. A semi-gloss finish is a cross between a glossy finish and a matte finish headshot.
Borders

Actors may want to have their headshots reprinted with white borders on them. That is, their headshots will be in the center of an 8×10 photograph, surrounded by white borders. This style of headshot is usually the more popular version.

A Bleed
Often times, actors may want to have no borders around the photograph, allowing the actor’s face to cover the entire 8×10 space. When the image covers the entire space, it is said to “bleed” across the page.

Color
Most actors choose to have their headshots done in black-and-white. This is the standard way headshots are done. It is also economical, saving the actor more money than color prints. However, many actors choose to have their headshots done in color, believing that color may help the actor stand out from the crowd and give a more accurate representation of the actor’s appearance.

Because headshots are essential to an actor’s success, actors should make every effort to have their headshots done well. That’s why, it’s always best to seek advice from a talent agent before investing any money into a headshot.