Is Your Headshot for Acting or Modeling?

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Is your headshot for acting or modeling?

Some people will answer ” both”.

However, modeling and acting headshots are quite different from each other. Below we explore in detail the differences between modeling and acting headshots as well as how to prepare for each one.


model headshot Is Your Headshot for Acting or Modeling

Modeling headshots are quite different from acting headshots.

Modeling headshots focus on the face and body.

On the other hand, headshots taken while an actor is acting as if they are a character place emphasis on the type of character they portray. They also take into account facial expressions and other such traits.

If you’re just starting out as a model, the most important thing you can do is create your modeling comp card.

A comp card showcases a model’s most up-to-date and best pictures.

It is essentially a model’s business card. The comp card usually consists of a closeup headshot, a full body shot, and a ¾ image. Profile pictures should also be included.

When modeling agencies look at a model’s portfolio pictures they want to see you in your natural state as well as from different angles and viewpoints. Put on clothes that highlight your body and use only light makeup to emphasize your natural beauty.

You should include measurements such as height, bust, waist, hips, shoe size as well as hair, and eye color in your comp card. A well-organized and clean-looking comp card will tell agencies that you are a professional model.

Always make sure that your headshots are up to date and represent what you look like at the moment.


model headshot is your headshot for modeling

Modeling headshots usually showcase models who want to work in fashion and beauty advertising. They are often used to show a model’s ability to draw the viewer’s eyes to an image.

Fashion and editorial models sell lifestyles. Beauty or fashion advertisements focus on creating and selling a fantasy or perception about a product instead of creating a relationship between the viewers and the model in the advertisement.

Modeling headshots highlight how a model is capable of looking and give little insight as to who the person is. In most cases, they focus more on the lighting, mood, and artistic appeal.

Blemishes and flaws are professionally retouched to make the photograph visually pleasing.

Models can make eye contact when getting their headshots done but it is not a necessity.

Modeling agencies always look at models’ headshots and pictures before they see them in person.


All models whether they are newbies or professionals need a good headshot.

Models who are just starting out don’t really need to have professional modeling headshots. It is ok to ask a friend or family member to take your headshots.

Of course, the quality of the headshot won’t be as good as one that is professionally made but it is worth considering if you are on a budget. If money is not an issue then you should definitely get a professional headshot photographer to take your headshots.

They use top-of-the-line cameras and equipment and can guide you on how to pose for the camera. The average cost in the U.S for a professional modeling headshot is in the range of $65-$215.

A lot of photographers provide additional services like extra final versions, advanced retouching, or a variety of different looks. Most headshots cost at least $100 per final shot depending on the location.


Beauty shot

beauty shot is your headshot for modeling

Fashion and editorial models need a beauty headshot while commercial models need a clean headshot. This is the first type of picture models should focus on.

A beauty shot is a color photo of the model’s face and is usually taken from the shoulders up. The purpose of this shot is to present the models in their most natural state.

This allows agencies and clients to see how the model appears without using heavy makeup or styling. Models should use minimal jewelry, hairstyles, and makeup when taking a beauty headshot. Editorial models usually don’t smile in this shot.

A commercial headshot is usually more relaxed than a beauty shot. They can be shot in color or black and white. A commercial or beauty headshot should always be the first picture in a model’s book.

Smiling shot

smile is your headshot for modeling 1

Should you smile in a headshot?

Models should have a smiling headshot, usually in the middle of their books. Agencies and clients want to see your smile and teeth so it is essential to have a smiling headshot.

Whether you are an editorial or commercial model, It is alright if you don’t have perfect teeth. Clients and agents just want to see what you look like when you are smiling.

Closing shot

Save your strongest pictures for the end of your modeling book. A good beauty shot or headshot will work well. People will usually only remember your first and last shots in your book. That’s why these shots should be the best of your photos.

Work with different photographers so that you can benefit from the different styles and expertise they have to offer.

Always end with one of your strongest photos.

Most people only remember the very first and very last shot in your book, so make sure these shots are your strongest ones.

Shoot with as many photographers as you can so you can take advantage of the different styles each one has to offer. You also get the experience of working with different kinds of personality types.

The more photoshoots you do the better you will get at being confident and comfortable with the camera which will show in your shots.


good headshot is your headshot for modeling

It is important that you use your best photographs for your headshot as agents and clients will be viewing it the most.

Choose your model headshot carefully and pick the one that will help you make a good impression.

Your headshot should show your natural look and have very minimal editing and makeup.



  • Pick clothes that highlight your figure and fit your body.
  • Simple outfits like skinny jeans and a black top are ideal for women.
  • Clothes with solid colors are the best and always go for body fitting tops and bottoms.
  • This will help the model agencies to get a better understanding of what you bring to the table.

Hair and makeup

hair and makeup is your headshot for modeling
  • Leave your hair alone and keep it the way you would in everyday life. You don’t want to go for any crazy hairstyles or something that you’ve never tried before and don’t feel comfortable with.
  • Also, get some shots with your hair down and some with hair pulled back.
  • You should pull your hair back because it helps agencies see the shape of your face and jawline.
  • As for makeup, keep it simple and to a minimum. Go for natural-looking makeup with some mascara, light lipstick, and maybe some highlighter.
  • You know your own skin the best so just practice finding the perfect look for you, focusing on what makeup suits your skintype best.


Acting headshots are a great tool that actors use to get themselves noticed by casting directors and agents and help them to land an acting gig. An actor’s personality and acting type should be easily identified in an acting headshot.

In most cases, actors need to have a commercial headshot and a dramatic or theatrical headshot. Commercial headshots usually have bright and evenly lit backgrounds.

Actors usually smile in commercial headshots to portray themselves as warm, friendly, and trustworthy people. In theatrical headshots, the background is often darker and part of the actor’s face is in a shadow.

They are usually more layered and nuanced than commercial headshots. Actors use this shot to display their acting types.

Acting headshots are very specific and unlike models, actors should always make eye contact with the camera. Whenever there is an audition or a casting call casting directors receive numerous headshots by actors who have similar looks. Your acting headshot should therefore stand out from the competition if you want to be selected for a role.

An actor’s headshot represents how an actor’s face and features look like in real life. You should put on very little makeup if any and your headshot should not be retouched. Any feature of your face that cannot be covered by light makeup should be seen in your headshot.

Use clean lighting (not shadowy artistic light) in your acting headshot so that casting directors can see what you look like naturally. Clients, agents, and casting directors don’t want to be surprised.

They select headshots because they believe it matches the character they are looking to audition for or represent the kind of person they want to cast in a commercial. It is therefore crucial that your acting headshot should accurately resemble what you look like in real life.

actor headshot

The actor’s headshot is usually cropped just below the shoulders and the actor should be in an upright pose. Refrain from wearing clothes that will take attention away from your face. This includes outfits that have vibrant colors, stripes, and polka dots.

Only wear attires with colors that will compliment your complexion and facial features. An actor’s headshot should represent their look, brand, acting type, and age range. You should have your headshot both in printed form as well as in a digital format.

Submit your digital headshots to online casting websites or platforms that you use. A lot of casting directors will not even let you apply for auditions if your online casting profile does not have your headshot.

If you are applying for theatre auditions, always bring a hard copy of your headshot with you.

For film, commercials, or print auditions, a headshot in a digital format will suffice. However, it is never a bad idea to bring a physical copy of your headshot with you.

Make sure to get a new headshot done if you make any significant changes to your appearance. This includes hairstyle change and losing or gaining weight.


good acting headshot is your headshot for modeling

Actor headshots function more or less like business cards. You present them to acting agents and casting directors when you are trying to land a role or get an audition. Having a headshot that is up to date and of high quality will help you get noticed more by casting directors.

In addition to looking good and having good lighting, acting headshots have to tell a story. They must show your personality and give a glimpse into the character or image you are portraying.

It is important to show that you are relatable and marketable through your headshots.

Know your acting type

Actors have to first figure out and decide what their acting type is before they get their headshots done.

Are you looking for a role as a lawyer, a small business owner, or a grieving widow? Knowing your acting type enables you to better prepare for your headshot session.

Identifying the roles you want to try out for will also give you a better understanding of what your headshots should look like.

This will help you in choosing the expressions and emotions that match your role. Professional acting headshots express emotions or tell a story.

Your acting headshot should portray your brand

brand is your headshot for modeling

When casting directors look through the headshots they receive they are trying to match them to a specific role or character.

Think of the kinds of roles or acting types that you most often get cast for when you are getting your headshot done.

It is vital that you understand what your brand is and make sure that your headshot represents that. You want to be consistent in the roles or characters you portray, the emotions you want to display, and the story that your headshot tells.

Always think about how you want people to think, feel, and picture when they see your headshot.

When people look at your headshot they should be able to visualize you in the different roles within your acting type.

Update your headshots

You have to update your headshots whenever you go through changes that alter the way you look. How you look in your headshot should directly resemble what you look like right now in real life.

If your previous acting headshot is a true representation of your current look, hairstyle, and physical appearance, then you can still use it.

But if your headshot is not even a year old, but you recently cut or dyed your hair differently – it’s time to update your headshot.


professional headshot is your headshot for modeling

Professional photography can be expensive, but only professional acting headshots have a chance of getting noticed by the hiring agent.

It’s therefore critical that you get professional acting headshots from a professional photographer who specializes in taking headshots.

Professional headshots cost between $400 – $1500.

Remember that your headshot is a reflection of your professionalism, so it’s worth investing in.

Check out the 17 respected photographers in LA here ⬅️.


This section will provide you with some tips on how to prepare for an acting headshot:

What to wear: Wear something that looks great on camera. Avoid wearing anything too distracting, such as patterns or stripes.

What to do: Be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before your shoot and drink plenty of water. This will make you look refreshed in the photos.

How to act: Smile! Smiling makes your eyes sparkle and it also helps relax your face muscles for a natural look.


  • Keep your outfits simple and classic. Nothing too crazy…
  • Headshot portrait is usually from the chest up, so you should choose tops in neutral colors,
  • Avoid pure white outfits and bright patterned clothing cause they will feel too dominant and could distract from your face’s beauty.
  • For guys, it’s best to bring 3-5 different tops for the photoshoot so the photographer can work with a variety of looks.
  • For females, I would also suggest bringing up to 5 different tops. Your outfits can be dresses too, just make sure they are easy to change into.
  • Consider skipping the accessories, or leaving them to the minimum.
headshot clothes is your headshot for modeling

Hair and makeup

  • Style your hair in the usual way you wear your hair.
  • You want to look natural in headshots so it can be true to who you are, but it is often hard for people not used to being in front of the camera. A good photographer should walk you through the experience and help make you feel comfortable.
  • Casting directors want to work with actors whose acting headshots exactly portray their actual looks.
  • Light makeup with a light hand and some concealer to cover up any skin imperfections is recommended. You want your best features to really shine through in the shoot so be sure to cater your look around that.


differnt cup Is Your Headshot for Acting or Modeling
  • Modeling headshots show models’ ability to attract your attention.
  • Commercial models communicate with their eyes and make the viewer desire the product or service they are promoting and this can make or break a commercial.
  • Editorial and fashion models will know what’s trending, and help get consumers interested in certain styles or products. This helps create a need they may not have had beforehand.
  • Acting headshots are meant to capture a person’s acting ability by displaying their emotions and expressions while modeling headshots are meant to display your body type and fashion sense.
  • Actors usually need to have eye contact with the camera, whereas models dont.
  • Headshot models are looking for a particular look and less focus on who they really are.
  • An actor’s headshot needs to represent your type, age and should look like you on your best day.
  • Lighting and artistry are more important in modeling headshots than in acting.


Modeling and acting headshots are quite different from each other.

Modeling headshots focus on the face and body.

While acting headshot places emphasis on the type of character they portray.

There is no shortcut to landing the perfect headshot. It takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work. The best acting headshots are always done by professionals who take the time to understand the process and tailor it to the individual actor.

So, take it seriously! if you want to get noticed by a hiring agent.

Leave a comment with your opinion or any questions you may have below…

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