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How to analyse your headshot

How to analyse your headshot © Nick Gregan portrait photographer in London

Sir Nicholas Hytner

We live in a visual world, how do you anaylse your headshot when we are trained to make judgements instantly about the images we see.

If you are using a headshot or personal branding images for profile pictures and social media platforms then it’s worth taking a few minutes to analyse your headshot You may be surprised to learn your image is sending the wrong message!

You can analyse your headshot in its 3 most important elements.

  • Eyes
  • Personality
  • Background

It amazes me how many actors look at their headshots through rose-tinted glasses, glossing over distractions and above all, missing glaring mistakes. Is it any wonder they can’t seem to score an audition or bag an agent?

As part of the Skype Headshot Consultations I offer I’m usually asked for my opinion on a headshot. Most of the time people are simply looking for affirmation they have a good headshot, unfortunetely  this isn’t always the case. Consequently some actors have headshots that are working against them! In my talks and lectures I try to empower attendees with the knowledge of what makes a good headshot and conversely what constitutes a bad headshot.

Follow this step-by-step formula for analysing your headshot’s strengths and weaknesses to make sure your headshot sends the right message. We’ll dive deeper into each topic as we go along.

It’s all in the eyes

I see the same issues crop up time after time in headshots and profile photos. It’s all about the eyes; the subject’s eyes are dead and lifeless, devoid of emotion and depth. This crops up as one of the most common mistakes I see in headshots, the subject focuses in the wrong place and fails to inject personality. this applies to every kind of headshot, profile picture or personal branding image, since we live in a visually aware world where we’re all trained to look at a photograph or an image and form a judgement instantly it’s important you understand what your headshot is saying.


Sometimes in a headshot you’ll see the actor’s eyes staring directly at you, boring into you. This is be off-putting to many people, and feels as though the headshot is challenging you rather than connecting with you. It can generate several responses from the viewer; it may make them shy away or feel threatened and form an instant dislike of the person.

Why is it critically important that your eyes are focused in the right place? They should be focused on the person viewing your photograph as correct focusing gives your eyes a definite depth, consequently something for the viewer to connect with. Your headshot photographer should help you achieve this with definite directions. If they don’t or can’t the next best thing is to focus your eyes on the back of the camera.

More on this topic in the next post. in the meantime why not check out your how your eyes look in your headshot?

I highly reccommend you read Professor Todorov’s research at Princeton University you can get it here. Another opportunity to see Todorov in action is this good Google Talks video here that is very interesting and informative.

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