Why your friends’ headshot opinions are probably misguided

[Headshots Los Angeles by Vanie]

If you ask 50 people what they think of your headshots,

you’ll get 50 different opinions. That’s just a fact. Everyone has an opinion, and almost everyone with an opinion on headshots is sadly misguided.

Colin MacLeod: Creative Professional / Suburban Dad / BBQ Dad

Jeffrey Kaye: Friend / Musician

I’ve heard opinions range from “you shouldn’t have arms in your photo” to “you should show a little body”, “your head should be centered”, “most of your head should fill the frame”, “Your photo is too close”, “there should be no shadows in your photo”, “the background should be real”, background should be white” etc. etc. etc.

All these comments focus on subjective and shallow aesthetics, and they don’t serve to help you figure out how to get an effective headshot.

Jennifer Yi: Girls’ Night Out / Fitness

Juliana Mendez: Detective / Nurse

UNFORTUNATELY, the actor that becomes most confused by such criticism is usually the one that needs the most help– the actor without an agent and the one that’s unwilling to budget in a professional headshot session.

Julian Starks: Upscale Business / Blue Collar Dad

Nina Eristavi: Outdoorsy / Emily Trujillo: Quirky Friend

Most seasoned actors know how the game works.

They have agents advising them (usually the best people to listen to since they work with many casting directors). They go on frequent auditions and know that what makes a headshot effective is not only having it be done professionally so that the casting community takes them seriously, but making sure to showcase “types” as well as personality.  That’s it.

Nuria Misares: Suburban Wife / Shae Rodriguez: Best Friend

Ronald Palmer: Author / Professor

Sasha Carrera: Lawyer / Girls’ Night Out / Love Interest

I can tell you in my 16+ years as a headshot photographer, I’ve never heard comments based only on aesthetics from reputable agents.

To take that idea a step further, in my opinion, an effective headshot is one that speaks to the viewer emotionally. In other words, one that exudes a certain emotional reaction because your personality is coming through.


There are no rules, and there certainly aren’t any rules that can’t be broken if an image can capture the viewer’s attention. Good luck!

Tarik Frazier: Detective / Blue Collar


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