Skip to main content

Face acting, are you guilty of it?

Let’s talk about ‘face acting’., maybe you’ve never heard the term before but I’m sure you’ve seen it in action. This is a term I invented to describe the way some actors make it all about their face. They present the character’s emotions on their face rather than find the emotions within themselves.

We’ve all seen tons of actors headshots where the actors’ eyes are blank and their face is trying too hard. You can instantly see that everything is happening at the front of and on their face, nothing is coming from within the actor.

It happens a lot in a headshot session, but it’s also an easy fix.

Face acting © Nick Greagn Headshot Photographer in London

Two cracking headshots showing connection and emotion. No face acting here

First impressions count!

We know your headshot is crucial to catching the eye of a casting director or an agent because it’s usually their first sight of you.

It’s incredibly important to have a selection of headshots that suit your castability – whether that is the edgy, attitude fuelled outsider or as a warm friendly mother – it’s better to have a headshot that looks like you ‘in character’. To be ‘in character’ you need to invest emotionally and ‘play the part’ however, there are many times when an actor is in front of the headshot photographer that they won’t or can’t do this.

They either won’t do it or don’t have the capacity to engage with the performance mindset that is needed. They’ll act with their face to give a facial expression instead of looking inside themselves to engage with the character profile and express emotional content.

oh dear face acting...

Face acting or not?

A good example would be a man playing a tough guy. Some actors will go blank eyed and make a tough looking face – what I call face acting!. The real actor will dig deep into their knowledge, and present eyes that are dangerous and hard, they’ll have an intention that is powerful and unmistakable.

The photographer’s job and face acting

It is part of a headshot photographer’s job to see this and offer the actor a solution.

As professional actors’ headshot photographers, our role extends beyond technical proficiency. We must be adept at recognising ‘face acting’ and guiding clients to authentically express emotions. This involves engaging with clients, offering specific directions, and suggesting scenarios that tap into emotions. Part of our remit is to make the headshot session easier.

A top-tier headshot photographer’s responsibility surpasses technical perfection. It includes relating to, coaxing and inspiring actors to elevate their headshots, ensuring they stand out from the crowd.

If your headshot doesn’t stand out from the crowd, what’s the point of using it?

The eyes reign supreme in an actor’s headshot. They must establish a connection with the viewer, exude personality, convey emotion, and be precisely focused. I talk about this in greater detail in the headshot conversation.

This is a technique I use and also a way of describing the job of your headshot. Your headshot must connect with the casting director. Face acting is a sure fire way to disconnect.

In all honesty your headshot photographer should spot it if and when you are face acting and show you how to avoid it.

Personality and face acting

As part of my new Awesome Headshots Blueprint course I include 9 technique videos showing actors how to avoid face acting and deliver real emotion and personality into their headshots.

Injecting YOUR personality into YOUR headshot is part of what helps it stand out from the crowd. It’s a large part of what makes YOU stand out from the crowd.

An actors’ personality is what makes them unique, it’s what sets them APART from the crowd. Casting directors see hundreds if not thousands of headshots every week. Why would you risk NOT standing out from the crowd by being a face acting actor?

Give yourself the very best chance of success by avoiding face acting and injecting your real, authentic self into your next headshot.


Leave a Reply


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)