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Acting Headshots in San Francisco

Get Noticed by Casting Directors

Acting headshots are critical for getting noticed by casting directors who are sifting through 100s of applications.

What Are Acting Headshots?

Acting headshots are professional portraits that are closely cropped to emphasize the subject’s eyes and facial features — typically in the pursuit of new acting gigs, but sometimes for advertising a new production that features a prominent actor or actress.

corporate headshots vs acting headshots
Traditional corporate headshot (left) vs creative acting headshot (right). In acting headshot sessions, we focus on showcasing the client’s personality and range. We also remove the backlight to create a warmer/less distracting backdrop.

What Backdrops Are Best for Acting Headshots?

We recommend studio sessions for aspiring actors and actresses. A clean modern backdrop will help focus the photo on the star of the show — you!

In a studio setting, your headshot photographer will also be able to creatively use lighting setups that can either a) add drama or b) emphasize certain facial features and expressions. 

As far as color, your choice for backdrop should depend on two factors. 

First, what’s your skin tone? You’ll want an acting headshot that helps you “pop” off the background.

Second, what types of roles are you targeting? If you’re looking to play the fun/zany friend, go with a creative, colored backdrop. If you’re looking for leading roles, I’d go with a more neutral choice.

Headshots background options
HeadShots Inc studio backdrop color options. However, depending on your goals, we might recommend an outdoor session.

What’s The Best Way to Pose for Acting Headshots?

Simple poses are best for acting headshots. You want the casting director to clearly see your facial features and expressions. 

However, you should also try to tailor a few of your shots to the kinds of roles that you’re interested in being cast for:

Want to play the “goofy friend”?

Shoot a couple of goofy and wild expressions. 

Want to play the “villain”?

Ask your photographer for some dramatic lighting. 

Want to play the “heroic jock”?

Puff your chest out and cross your arms.

acting headshot expressions example
Example acting headshot expressions taken at HeadShots Inc in San Francisco

How Should I Prepare for Acting Headshots?

First and foremost, you must make sure that you’re in your best state of mind. You’ll want to bring your creative energy to your shoot, so in the weeks before, make sure to get some sleep, some exercise, and some sun.

This is good general life advice, but particularly necessary for your headshots.

What Should I Wear for Acting Headshots?

Depends on the roles you’re targeting! This is why actors get multiple sets of headshots/portraits. 

In general, try to match the attire of the characters you’re targeting.

When in doubt, bring several options so that you can capture commercial/happy looks + creative dramatic headshots in the same session. Photo taken by HeadShots Inc Head Photographer Dan St Louis.

What Are Common Acting Headshot Mistakes?

There are three common errors actors make when getting headshots:

1 Using a friend/cheap photographer with little experience. This choice will lead to poor coaching and mediocre retouching afterwards.

2 Using a distracting backdrop. YOU are the star of the show.

3 Not having enough lighting for the eyes. People tend to connect with other people by looking at their eyes. You’ll want to make sure your eyes are clearly visible in your acting headshots.

fun acting headshot example
While you should definitely come to your session with some idea of the poses/looks you’d like to capture, the right headshot photographer will help you feel comfortable during your session – particularly for fun personality shots like the above. Photo taken by a HeadShots Inc photographer in downtown San Francisco.

How Much Do Acting Headshots Cost?

Acting headshot pricing ranges anywhere from $150 to $1,200 depending on the provider, location and package. For aspiring actors and actresses, we recommend our Standard Studio Sessions as a phenomenal starting set of headshots. 

Particularly if you’re starting out, don’t allow a massive price tag to keep you from getting a good acting headshot. At $250, Standard Studio Sessions at HeadShots Inc are perfect as a jumping-off point. 

Where Can I Get Acting Headshots in San Francisco?

Come on down to our studio in downtown SF! We offer individual sessions that are perfect for aspiring actors and actresses. We can coach you to success during your session.

dan st louis headshot photographer

San Francisco’s #1 Rated Headshot Photographers

About the Author

Dan St Louis is the Owner and Head Photographer at HeadShots Inc. As a headshot and portrait specialist, his work has been featured on the larget photography blogs in the world including: 500px, PetaPixel, Fstoppers, DIYPhotography, ShotKit, and

To get amazing acting headshots that get you noticed, check out our Individual Session page for booking options.

Studio Sessions start at just $150.