A headshot is often the first thing a casting director will notice when considering you for a part. It can make a huge difference to send a professional, well-lit photograph of yourself. We’ve all chuckled at cheesy, overdone headshots, but they can be surprisingly tricky to avoid.

If you want to make a great first impression that gets people excited about you as an actor, you’ll first want to get them excited about you as a person. Your headshot should be a reflection of you on your best day. While lots of makeup, hairspray, and bold costumes might be perfect for the part you’re cast in, they’re not ideal for a photograph that succinctly expresses who you are to a casting director.

Here are some tips to help you appear natural, comfortable, and experienced in front of a camera so you can capture a flawless headshot.

1. Embrace the Natural Look

While it can be tempting to pile on foundation because you fear you might have a blemish, or go back again and again for that one last touch of eyeliner, resist the urge. A good photographer will know how to light you so that you look your absolute best. Remember, the photograph is pretty close up, so you don’t need to cake it on the way you do when acting in a play. The casting director will want to get a feel for what you look like naturally.

2. No Costumes, No Props

You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself by having a silly prop or a crazy shirt. If you do, that’s likely the only thing the casting director will notice. You’ll have a much better chance at landing a wide range of roles if you wear a simple button-up shirt or tee. Besides, everyone knows that a good actor doesn’t need to rely on props.

3. Express Emotion with Your Eyes

If you want to give a great impression of who you really are, make sure to attract attention to the windows to your soul. A giant grin shouts “Hey, I’m happy!”, but a twinkle of joy in your eyes is more mysterious and compelling. To keep your eyes looking alert during the photoshoot, focus your gaze just above the camera. Squint your eyes the tiniest bit to keep them alluring and looking relaxed — it can be hard to resist forcing them wide open when you’re concentrating on appearing alert.

4. Maintain the Correct Format

People sometimes want to get creative with their headshots by sending in very far away photos that feature a dramatic background or close-ups at odd angles. While acting is a creative pursuit, the headshot shouldn’t be. The extra attention you earn with a kooky photo is probably not worth the number of rejections it’ll cost you. A headshot should capture you from the chest up and will usually feature your face in three-quarter profile with your head tilted slightly to one side.

Want to put that spiffy new headshot to use and audition for upcoming shows at Lionheart Theatre Company? If so, visit ourauditions page to check out what parts are available.