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U.S. Headshots vs U.K. Headshots is there a difference?

Every actor’s goal is to be noticed by the casting directors, to be seen and to stand out. And every actor is looking for an edge, could that edge be using U.S. headshots vs U.K. headshots?

Will a U.S. headshot make you stand out more than a U.K. headshot, and could that be the reason for the casting director to notice them?

And, is the idea of using U.S. headshots vs U.K. headshots an edge or a gimmick? Is it more a question of headshot style or headshot content and if so which is more important?

Without a doubt, headshot content but…

One thing we can agree on is the importance of an actor’s headshot, an actor must understand the job of their headshot. It’s to make the right first impression, to inspire the viewer to investigate you and, to open the door to career opportunities.

Whatever the style of your headshot it has to have impact or as I call it – the WOW Factor!

U.S.Headshots vs U.K. Headshots Nick Gregan headshot Photographer

U.K. crop

U.S.Headshots vs U.K. Headshots Nick Gregan headshot Photographer

U.S. crop

The Crop of U.S. Headshots vs U.K. Headshots

Traditionally U.S. headshots aren’t as tightly cropped as U.K. headshots. I’m not exactly sure why this is but I can guess – casting directors wanted to see more of the U.S. actor.

You can’t always tell the shape of an actor’s body from a shoulders-up headshot.

Things are changing though, especially with so much of the initial casting process being done online. Your headshot is now first viewed as a thumbnail. If that thumbnail is a three-quarters U.S. style headshot then your head is such a small part of the whole image that it is difficult to see your face. If the casting director can’t see your face what’s the point of a headshot?


Following the Trends

A few years ago in the U.K., there was a trend for some headshot photographers to crop off the top of the actor’s head. Fortunately, this was a style I never followed as I thought it didn’t show the actor as they really looked. If we go back to a previous article I wrote on the casting director’s no.1 complaint, you can read why.

If we see a headshot that is cropped across a male actor’s forehead it can leave the casting director wondering about the amount of hair the actor has. Is he shaven-headed, thinning on top, has he a comb-over or is his hair luxurious? This kind of cropping has the same effect on a female actor – it leaves the casting director unsure of her hairstyle and therefore uncertain if she is right for the audition.


One of my main tenets about headshots is ‘do not give the casting director any reason to dislike your headshot’. This can be things such as distractions in the form of crazy clothing, busy backgrounds, bold jewellery or not being able to see all of you. This can result from weird cropping or being photographed from odd angles. You should present a headshot that suits the character they are casting, preferably in exactly the character they are looking for.

Comparing Thumbnails of U.S. Headshots vs U.K. Headshots

US vs UK Headshots











Keep in mind your headshot needs to stand out as a thumbnail and, as I said earlier, it has to have the WOW Factor, it has to grab their attention and hold it!

Casting directors are busy people and they receive hundreds of submissions for every role. Science has shown us it takes the average person less than a 1/10 of a second to make a judgement about a face in a headshot. Professor Todorov’s research at Princeton University has proved that. The thing is, he didn’t make a distinction between a U.S. headshot vs a U.K. headshot. To him and his research, they were just headshots.

The Average Person

If the average person can make a snap judgement in a 1/10 of a second imagine what a person who is skilled and trained to do that can achieve in less time.

Casting directors are those people, this is their job. To make instant decisions about an actor from their headshot.

If you want to give yourself a better chance of being called in to audition make sure you have an awesome headshot here’s how:

  • Submit a character-specific headshot that fits the role
  • Make sure your thumbnail has impact
  • Ensure you are connecting with the viewer
  • Avoid any distractions
  • Make sure you look like your headshot

These are just s few examples of how you can give yourself a better chance of catching the eye of the casting director. Using a U.S. headshot vs a U.K. headshot isn’t the answer. There are no tricks and no gimmicks to stand out from the crowd,  You just need an awesome headshot.


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