Which Headshot Style is Best for You?

Technology has changed and shaped the way today’s casting directors find actors, but the headshot remains a vital part of the process. Headshot trends come and go, so how do you decide which style is right for you?  There are two main types of headshots for actors: commercial and theatrical.



This kind of headshot is taken with commercial work in mind. Advertisers are looking for clean-cut images of warm, friendly people to sell their products. This headshot style features big smiles, soft colors, simple backgrounds and bright lighting.


Also called a legit headshot, this is the shot you’ll be sending to theatrical, TV and film casting directors and agents rather than advertisers. This means it’s time to show off your unique traits and serious acting capabilities. You’re not trying to sell a product now, you’re trying to sell yourself and what you can bring to the role. These shots are more nuanced, serious and impactful with the focus on the eyes rather than a smile.

Most actors add both of these styles to their folios to help them bring in a broader range of acting work., but there are other headshot styles you can consider too.

LA or NYC Headshots?

The infamous East Coast, West Coast rivalry even extends into headshot trends. NYC headshots style is all about dark colors, dramatic lighting and simple studio backgrounds. LA style is much more organic, with blurred background, more relaxed expressions and lots of natural light.

Think about your target market and the types of roles you’ll be looking for when deciding between headshots NYC and LA style.

Black & White or Color?

While black and white was the norm for decades, color is the industry standard today. Your main headshots should always be in color, although there’s no harm in adding a black and white shot to your overall folio.

Head & Shoulders or Three-Quarter?

The classic headshot frames just your head or head and shoulders. It makes the biggest impact, draws in the viewer and ensures your face and eyes are the main focus. Some headshot styles extend this length to show more of the upper body, but three-quarter or full-length shots are more common in the modeling world than casting for actors. However, if the role you’re going for requires a very specific body type, then showing more of your body in a headshot can be very valuable too.