Frequently Asked Headshot Questions

What name should I use on my headshot? 

The name on your headshot should be your professional name. Your professional name is usually the same as your legal name, but it does not have to be. The important thing is to stay consistent, so there is no confusion about who you are. The name you choose for your headshot should be the same as what is listed on your agent's roster, your online profiles, your resume, and all of your marketing materials.  

I hear so many different opinions about headshots. How do I know what to believe?

Almost all agents and casting directors have strong opinions about headshots - and they rarely agree. The truth is that there really are no absolute rules, only educated, experienced tastes and preferences. As an actor, the most proactive approach is to listen carefully to these preferences and use them to create targeted submissions. For example, if casting director Susie Smith says she hates seeing hands in a headshot, simply adjust for this preference when you submit for her projects. Don't send her a headshot where your hands are folded under your chin.

Do I need to print copies of my headshot to take to auditions?

Absolutely. Traditionally, two 8x10 hard-copy headshots with resumes attached to the back are taken to EVERY audition. Sometimes, the check-in person will not ask for them, or will explain that they are not needed. This is terrific news - put them in your car and save them for next time! Even if a headshot is not required, it is always best to be prepared. 

What should I do if I forget my headshot?

*Simply be honest and tell the check-in person that you forgot your headshot. Everyone understands that accidents happen.

*If possible, ask if you can bring your headshot back before the end of the audition session.

*Don't panic! Forgetting your headshot is a missed opportunity, but it doesn't actively hurt your chances, or count against you somehow. Turn your attention to your performance, and do your best.

*Remember, you aren't in trouble. Casting is on your side!

*Never throw your agent under the bus. Saying "My agent didn't tell me I needed to bring a headshot," will never make things better. Think about it: your agent probably sent 15 other people to the audition, and all of them brought headshots. 

I forgot to bring my headshot to the audition. Can I just email it later?

A digital file is really not a substitute for a hard copy. The reason you were asked for a hard copy is because many directors make use of them IN THE MOMENT, as part of their process. A director might use hard copy headshots to make notes, explore resumes, and group potential casting options during the audition or shortly thereafter. Emailing a digital file when you get home doesn't address the immediate absence of a physical headshot. A better solution (when it is possible) is to bring a hard copy back before the end of the audition session. 

I forgot to bring my headshot to the audition. Doesn't casting have one on file from the last time?

No. At our office, we definitely don't keep a huge file of hard-copy headshots from every audition we've ever conducted. In fact, if we ask for headshots, we usually turn them over to the production - they go to live with the director or producers who requested them in the first place. By the following day, your headshot might be in a production office or a hotel room somewhere, or pinned to a board with with some other peoples' headshots covered in sticky notes. It could be anywhere, but one place it definitely is not is "on file" in our office. 

Why do we still have to bring printed copies of headshots and resumes to auditions when these materials are available digitally via actor profiles?

While many directors now prefer to look at online profiles exclusively, not all directors work the same way. There are still many individuals who like old-school prints. They understand how the new-fangled internets work, but they see online profiles as a supplement rather than a replacement for physical headshots and resumes. For some, there is simply no substitute for your physical photo and resume - they want to hold it in their hands. Our industry is much more digital than it has ever been, but it helps to bear in mind that there are still as many individual preferences and processes as there are creative professionals.