What Are Casting Directors Looking for in a Headshot?

Casting directors want to see a headshot that actually looks like you. 

Do not under estimate the importance of a first impression. Your headshot is your calling card to casting agents and will determine what types of roles you get called in for. Headshot photographer Robert Read points out, they are busy people with a problem to solve. They want to be able to look at your headshot and immediately get a sense of how you might help solve that problem. For one role, they sift through hundreds of pictures, for you to stand out - yours better be good.

Casting directors have specific ideas about the roles they have to fill. Even if you want to play against type, it’s important to recognize how you may initially be seen.

Here are some qualities casting directors want to immediately get from your headshot.

  • age range

  • where you play on the economic scale (upscale, middle class, blue collar, etc.)

  • how you play in society (mom, educated professional, CEO, etc.),

  • aspects of your personality (sweet, friendly, powerful, etc.)

Regardless of the role you want, your headshot needs to look like you! The last thing you want when you walk into the casting office is for the casting director to do a double take to your photo. They called you in based on your headshot and if that is not who walks through the door, you’ve lost the battle already. They want to cast the role as badly as you want to play the role. It’s important to present yourself honestly in your photograph.

According to Piyali Syam on Backstage.com “Your headshot should show casting directors both the intangibles and tangibles of you as an actor: how you look on camera, your essence, your energy, and personality. Casting directors want to see who you are, what you bring to the table, and why you’re worth bringing in for an audition.”