Should I smile in acting headshots?
As an experienced headshot photographer with over 20,000 happy clients, I am always asked a lot of questions. One of the most common I hear from actors is whether or not should I smile in acting headshots. The answer to this question isn’t as black & white as you might think, it’s not a simple yes or no answer. In this post, I’ll be exploring some of the different factors that can influence whether or not an actor should be smiling in their headshots.
What is the job of my acting headshot?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that the purpose of a headshot – its job is to get the actor noticed. I don’t think it’s essential to be smiling to make a great actor’s headshot, but showing an actor’s personality is essential If you want a successful commercial actor’s headshot then a smile is a prerequisite. And in that case, should I smile in acting headshots is a mute question.
An awesome headshot should grab the attention of the casting director and show that the actor has a range of emotions and expressions that they can bring to a role. With that in mind, let’s consider the question of whether or not an actor should smile in acting headshots, or show personality.
Understanding your castability and the types of characters you are likely to be cast as is the place to start. Then, shooting headshots to suit those roles will help you stand out from the crowd.
One big question to ask is, whether you are a serious theatrical actor or a comedy/ light-hearted drama actor. Do you specialise in musical theatre or commercial work? Or all of the above, if so a range of headshots will be needed.
Should I smile in acting headshots or not – that is The Question.
A smile says you are friendly, trustworthy and likeable. Those three attributes are crucial in the commercial world where it’s all about selling a product. Whether it’s insurance, cars, toothpaste or beauty products, a smile makes you appear likeable and trustworthy.
A smiling headshot is great for light-hearted drama and sitcoms, though it is not essential. An actor can convey, humour and personality in their headshot without the need to smile.
It’s worth noting that there are some situations in which a smiling headshot is not appropriate. For example, if an actor is auditioning for a role that requires them to play a character who is angry, upset, or otherwise emotionally intense, then a smiling headshot would be out of place. In these situations, serious or more thoughtful expressions are best. In fact, shooting character-specific headshots is a must for all actors.
Science vs emotion
In some cases, actors simply don’t have a natural smile that looks genuine and approachable. When an actor is forcing a smile it can come across as awkward or unnatural, which can have the opposite effect of what is needed. So in this case the question is, should I smile in acting headshots is mute?
A genuine smile is made up of more than one element, in fact, it takes around seventeen muscles to smile. It also takes a genuine feeling in your heart, and this is expressed by the emotion in your eyes. This is another reason why your eyes are so important in your headshot. You have to have a real smile, it’s far too easy to spot a fake smile.
The right headshot photographer for you
I’ve talked many times in this blog, in my book and in courses about finding the right headshot photographer for you. When you click with someone you instantly feel comfortable and more able to express yourself truthfully. So taking the time to find the right photographer will pay dividends and, make the shoot more fun and infinitely more productive. It also makes the question should I smile in acting headshots a much easier thing to achieve.
If you’re an actor preparing for a headshot session, it’s important to do your research and find a photographer who has experience working with actors and understands the importance of creating a unique and dynamic headshot. Look for a photographer who has a portfolio that reflects the style and tone you’re looking to convey in your headshots.
In addition to finding the right photographer, actors should also come prepared for their headshot session with a clear understanding of their casting type and the types of roles they are most interested in auditioning for. This will help the photographer create a headshot that accurately represents the actor’s personality and casting potential.
Should I smile in acting headshot, let’s wrap things up
It’s about understanding your place in the market. Your headshot is just one part of an actor’s overall marketing package. A well-crafted resume, demo reel, and online presence are all important pieces that work together. But, and this is a big but, your headshot is still the most important piece of marketing material you have as an actor. you should. A great smile is a great asset.