How Not to Pose for Actor Headshots

How Not to Pose for Actor Headshots

Stepping in front of the camera, knowing all eyes are on you, is what many actors live for. But it doesn’t mean it’s not nerve wracking, especially when you’re just starting out. How to stand, should you strike a pose, what to do with those pesky hands - they’re all questions I get asked when I’m shooting headshots for actors.


So, once you’ve chosen your photographer, looked through 1,000 headshots and picked your outfits, just what do you do once you get in front of the camera?

Remember what all casting directors are looking for: a headshot that looks like you. That means being relaxed, being yourself and being natural. Knowing how not to pose can be really helpful when you’re trying to capture striking, natural images. 

Watch those Arms

There are a few no-no’s here:

  • Don't fold your arms. This can cut you off from the person viewing your shot and make you appear cold.

  • Don't put your hands on your hips. This just looks cheesy. At a push, this might work for some commercial headshots, but for theatrical headshots for actors, avoid.

  • Don’t put your hands up to your face. This can look overly dramatic, and you want your face to be fully visible as it’s your headshot’s main focal point.

  • Don't raise your shoulders - keep your shoulders as low as possible to help you look relaxed.

Always Engage

You want to instantly engage with the viewer of your photo, so avoid any body language that creates distance. Don't lean backwards, put your weight on your heels or turn your head too far to either side. Instead, lean forward a little, almost like you’re making a small pecking motion, to capture the viewer’s attention and elongate your neck.

Too Much Tilt

Don’t tilt your head back too far - the casting director doesn’t want to see up your nostrils. On the flip side, don't tilt your head down too low - we shouldn’t be able to see any white below the iris of your eye.

Keep Things Natural

Don’t strike any kind of pose you wouldn’t feel comfortable holding in regular conversation. If it feels unnatural to you the chances are that it’s going to look unnatural too.