What are Casting Directors Looking for in a Headshot

I was giving a private online coaching session the other day and I was talking with this woman about headshots. And I was explaining to her the importance of creating a very specific look. The kind of areas that’s most easy for one to get booked in.

And so I showed her my headshot and she looked at it and she said – “It’s not telling me anything. It looks…there’s nothing there, I mean, you’re just smiling and looking into the lens of the camera. There’s nothing interesting going on there.”

And so I went on to explain to her and I asked her – Okay. So let’s pretend you’re a casting director and somebody is handing in this headshot.

You’re looking at it. This was my headshot. And you are casting for a feature film and you need an auto mechanic for this particular role. When you look at my headshot, would you bring me in to read for that role and she looked at it and she said – “Probably, not.”

So, okay. So let’s say you needed a truck driver, would you bring me in, based on my headshot? And she said – no, probably not. And now saying, how about the head of a gang, you know, would you bring me in for that based on my headshot? And so, I’m going through this long list of all these things and finally, I said what if you needed a doctor, would you bring me in for that? She was looking at the headshot and she said – “Yes, I’ll bring you in for that.” Nice one!

How about a lawyer? How about a science teacher? How about a professor? and I’m going down the list and I think finally, she begin to understand that sometimes, what you don’t see in the headshot can be just as importance as what you do see. So the fact is, my headshot is very effective because it’s telling the casting director very specifically not only what roles are not right for me, but more importantly, what roles are right for me.

So basically, when you are putting together your headshot, make sure that you fit into a specific category so when people look at it, they know exactly what you are right for.

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