All of our industry standard actor headshots are photographed by our owner, a 15 year veteran of the film and theatre world.
Actor headshots are a particular animal — a good one is more than just a good photograph that captures your unique likeness, it needs to follow the industry standard and by doing that meet the expectations of casting directors, agents, or whatever industry professional is considering you. All our photography and retouching is done by our owner, a 15 year veteran of the film and theatre world. Working as director of photography on numerous broadcast commercials, directing plays, a feature film and a number of shorter narrative projects — just being an industry professional, working with casting directors, and simply running the ship himself, he knows what makes a good actor headshot. He’s both taken and seen hundreds of them. It goes without saying that we’re talking about a seriously competitive industry — the entertainment industry. Not only do you want to put your best self forward, simply showing up with a professional headshot lets people know you’re serious enough to take the time to do it right. If not here, we encourage you to get one somewhere as a good set of actors headshots is a necessary part of the actor tool box.
THE ART OF THE ACTOR HEADSHOT
My first foray into the headshot world was through my connection to theatre and film. Being a photographer and also the founder of a theatre company and a filmmaker I naturally ended up combining the things and making pictures of those around me. I’ve been making actors headshots for well over a decade now. Although the essence of an actors headshot is essentially the same as any style headshot – there is certainly something specific to the niche. I’ll outline those specifics below. But I’d like to say a little bit about what I think makes a great actor headshot, and how we can work together to achieve it the end goal. First and I can’t emphasis this enough – a great headshot looks like you. This may sound like a platitude at first but it’s absolutely the most important element of the whole thing. More often than you might imagine this is put last in the actor’s mind. All the worry about hair and make-up and wardrobe becomes too important. With respect to hair, make-up, wardrobe, there are a few basic guidelines to follow, you don’t need to take it further than that. I’ll outline those guidelines below. Second, It should focus on the eyes and the expression should be natural and honest. A great headshot shouldn’t focus on your busy shirt or the parrot on your shoulder but on your eyes first and then your face. Any mood or character should be subtly expressed by a combination of expression and the aesthetic elements that make up the scene. Third, posture and dynamics. The posture of the subject should be engaging, dynamic and honest, but never overdone. The last thing I’ll say is that a great actor headshot is properly composed and cropped — rarely will you need anything below the chest and it should be 8 by 10.
OK, so how do we get there?
Really it comes down to a few things: communicate what you hope to achieve as best you can; follow some easy basic guidelines and take very simple direction. I’ll start with the basic guidelines: Hair: Fixing your hair as you normally would is perfectly acceptable. If there’s a particular do you prefer that you can’t achieve on your own I would suggest going to your typical do-artist before the session. Flyaways, small gaps or subtle shifts, etc. can be taken care of during the shoot or while post-processing. Make-up: Again, applying basic make-up as you normally would is perfectly acceptable. Remember, this is more like a documentary we’re making than a Kabuki musical. Don’t over do it! Wardrobe: First, if you’re stuck, just ask. I’m happy to answer questions about these things. But it’s not all that complicated. Simple is best. Wardrobe should never take the focus from your face, but at most should subtly compliment it, which is most often achieved by color. A solid top that compliments your eyes is nice. Avoid low necklines and busy patterns. Color is not bad. However I would suggest bringing a more muted alternate just in case. Overthinking, over planning — putting too much thought in to hair and make-up and wardrobe, etc. is to be avoided. A actor headshot should be far closer to a documentary style editorial portrait than a fashion photo. Yes looking your best is important. Fix your hair like you normally would – put on the basic make-up, but don’t put too much into it. Blemishes, most hair issues, can be fixed or adjusted on the fly, a stressed out subject, constantly worried that something has been missed, is much harder to fix.
What do I mean by take very simple direction? First — You don’t need to know how to “pose”. In fact, often, posing ends up doing more bad than good. When I say take very simple direction I mean I’ll guide you through every step of the process with simple tweaks to your natural sitting or standing posture. If you’re really experienced and prefer to “pose” yourself, that’s perfectly fine, I certainly won’t argue with you. But generally speaking, it usually goes like this: You sit or stand in what ever position feels natural and comfortable. I take a few test shots. I then offer you some posture direction — usually small tweaks that enhance your posture for camera. For example: Shift your weight forward or back; Straighten your upper body; Relax or pull back your shoulders; Turn your head more toward me; Etc. After you’ve established a feel for a good posture I work with you on expression. My goal here is to help you engage with the camera — not unlike you would do on a film set. Again, if you know how you want to do this, go for it. If I feel like we should tweak it a bit for the camera, I’ll let you know. I have a few techniques I walk clients through to achieve an engaged and fresh looking expression.
PRICES AND PACKAGES
SINGLE SHOT SESSION
30-45 MINUTE SESSION. Between 30-60 total proofs to choose from. 1 Final retouched image. Includes 1 look.
$100.00 for each additional retouched image. Fee to release all additional proofs is negotiable but not included.
Please contact to book
TWO SHOT SESSION
45 MINUTE – 1 HOUR SESSION. Between 60-90 total proofs to choose from. 2 Final retouched images. Includes 2 looks.
$75.00 for each additional retouched image. Fee to release all additional proofs is negotiable but not included.
Please contact to book
THREE SHOT SESSION
1 – 1.5 HOUR SESSION. Between 90 -150 total proofs to choose from. 3 Final retouched images. Includes 3 looks.
$50.00 for each additional retouched image. All RAW photos from session included with this package only.
Please contact to book
PLEASE NOTE: 50% deposit/retainer fee required upon booking to reserve your date and time. The remaining balance is due after you approve your final retouched images. The rates listed on this page are for non-commercial shoots. If you need a shoot with commercial image licensing please contact for details.
For complex portraits requiring sets, props, heavy retouching or compositing please contact for details.
Turn Around Time: After the shoot, a gallery link to the untouched photos is emailed to you within 2-3 days for review and to make selects for retouching. The final retouched images may take up to 1 to 2 weeks to be delivered via download. Images can be rushed for an additional fee.
Rates do not include travel expenses for shoots outside of the Atlanta metro area. Any taxes, fees, etc. are calculated on your itemized invoice. Deposits are non-refundable. If you need to cancel for any reason, CK Headshots reserves the right to make rescheduling decisions on a case to case basis. Deposits and final payments can be made through our invoice system. After reviewing your final retouched photos, the remaining balance must be paid to receive your download link. Clients under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian present at all times.
ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY
Q: Do I need to know how to pose for my actor headshot? A: The short answer is no. Although educating oneself never hurts, there’s really not a whole lot you need to know about posing. I’ll guide you through the whole process. I approach headshot sessions collaboratively. I’m open to however much you’d like to offer. Some actors like to drive the process and simply use my eyes to make sure everything’s working, other actors like to be guided all the way through. Just let me know what you prefer and we will find the best balance between the two.
Q: What makes a good actor headshot? A: First, as I’m sure you’ve heard, because actor headshots are suppose to be designed to meet the needs of a specific industry there are a few technical specifications that need to be met. Actor headshots typically need to be 8 by 10, in color, cropped at about mid chest or less. Actor headshots typically will not include props or hands or anything else in the foreground but your upper body, head and face. Casting directors often complain about too much make-up or anything that presents you differently than how you really look. Wardrobe is typically simple and should compliment the face at most but never distract from it. With all of the basic out of the way, what makes a good actor headshot? Well, the easy short answer to this is a good photographer makes a good actor headshot. That might sound a little flippant but the point is true — you pay me to make a photo, all you really need to do is cooperate with what it takes to achieve that end goal. And honestly, it doesn’t take all that much on your part. There are a few things you can do leading up to the session that can help, e.g., try and get good sleep the night before, browse other photos for inspiration, but I wouldn’t stress about these things too much. There’s very little that can’t be coached or corrected. You can view my tips on how to prepare to learn more about this. That said, there are certainly a few aesthetic qualities that make a headshot most effective. The focus should be on the eyes. An actor headshot should present the eyes as the star of the show. There are a number of ways to do this from the photographers end, (focus, composition, color) I try to take advantage of them all. But what’s most important is what the subject in front of the camera is doing. The actor needs to engage with the camera. This is not as complicated as it may sound. And, again, if you don’t know how to do this, I’ll help you. There are a few easy, organic, techniques that will get you right on track. A good headshot or portrait is dynamic. Just like any other art form, a powerful photograph almost always has a dynamic quality. In headshot terms that might mean the head turned subtly one way while the shoulders are angled another. It might mean creating negative space between an arm and the body or something as simple as shifting the head one way and the eyes another. Lighting can also provide a dynamic quality. Sometimes I’ll shoot subjects straight on, almost perfectly symmetrical and let the lighting and design add in the dynamics. Typically with actor headshots I like to keep the lighting ratio more flat than a dramatic portrait. Sometimes I’ll go for a little more drama but I would never suggest dropping a whole side of the face off to anything close to full shadow. A good headshot is honest. There’s something I call the honest gaze. This is a feeling of genuineness portrayed by the look or gaze of the subject being photographed. This does not mean intense, or confident or anything else. It means genuine. If your look is genuine, it’s going to by nature also be confident and powerful. A genuine or honest look is usually simply you un impeded by the present circumstances of being in front of a camera. Does that mean you can’t be nervous, well no. It means you need a good photographer to read between the lines, determine your baseline and do what’s necessary to capture it.
Q: How do I prepare for a actor headshot? A: The first and most important thing is to remember that I’m here to guide you through the whole process. Most people tell me they don’t like having their photos taken. Including myself! I expect that, and do everything I can to make it an easy, fully guided process. Second: Communication is key. Let me know what it is you’re trying to achieve. If you see photos on-line that inspire you, send them over. If there’s a particular mood you’re going for, let me know. If you’re undecided about wardrobe, etc., run it by me. Third, try to be at your best. That may mean a good nights sleep, or the right kind of meal, or particular kind of inspiration. But don’t over do it. Worrying about being prepared is often the worst thing you can do to prepare. With exception to extreme cases, you don’t need to cancel if you don’t achieve these things—most of the signs of a poor nights sleep can be edited out, fly away hair can be fixed. There are techniques we can use to help you engage. With respect to hair and make-up: some actors like to have their hair styled before the shoot. If this makes you feel more confident, I’d say do it. However most tend to take care of this themselves. The same is true for make-up. An actor headshot typically should not include heavy make-up. The vast majority of my clients choose to do their own. If you’d like to have an artist do it for you on site, you can arrange it yourself or, we can help you arrange it at an additional fee. If you’re looking for some make-up basics, check out this article.