What are Agents and Casting Directors Looking for in a Headshot?


Nicole Haakinson, Actor and Teen Model

The days of the smiling commercial headshot as the sole ammo in a working actor’s strategic casting arsenal are long gone. A commercial headshot is typically smiling for a reason …it’s to sell products and services in the form of TV commercials. Thus the name. However, if your interests lie a little deeper in the TV/Film domain or in Theatre (say drama, comedy, stage) you will need to beef up your headshot arsenal in order to compete for the best roles. Martin Scorsese, the great director, said in an Interview magazine article…

“Sometimes a person comes in to meet with you about a picture and there hair is very long and they’ve got a beard, and you make the leap yourself and say, ‘OK, the hair is cut and the beard is off…Gee if they could just have helped us out a little by coming in looking a little bit like what the tone of the picture is.”

The buzz words here are, “…if they could just have helped us out a little…” The point is this, it is very difficult for a casting director, director, producer, etc to cast a dramatic role by looking at a smiling commercial headshot with commercial lighting. Marketing 101 says…Make it easy for them to choose you! You’ll need a series of headshots “in-character” for the types of roles that you want to play. In addition, the lighting and the wardrobe had better set the mood. At Empire West Studios all of our actors are “in-character” for their specialty roles with the lighting and wardrobe designed to complement. So, take a look below. We even shoot actor’s full lengths in-character, making knock out montages, twin sets and film strips to get the agents talking, smiling and signing! And yes…we do take pride in our smiling commercial headshots.



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