Photos & Showreels FAQs

General Advice

Your main photo

As a professional performer your main headshot is vitally important. It must represent who you are. It is your first selling point to get you that audition. If a casting professional is unaware of your work, it is the first thing they will see, and first impressions do count!

Watch this video to see what top casting directors look for in photos:

Top tips:

  • Remember, you will mostly be viewed by casting professionals in a grid format so make sure your photo is impactful, cropped appropriately and the best it can be
  • It should be a recent head and shoulders shot preferably in an upright (portrait) format
  • Blurry, pixelated or amateur photography will make you look unprofessional, deterring casting directors
  • Keep your appearance as neutral as possible. Remember, a casting professional wants to see the 'real' you
  • Wear something simple and avoid props, hats, distracting backgrounds and accessories
  • Your eyes are your most important feature, so make sure they are as visible as possible
  • Don't Photoshop out wrinkles, don't airbrush, don't use dramatic studio lighting - it must be ‘natural’ and an accurate representation of how you look

Think of your photograph as an investment in your career.

Your portfolio

You can upload up to 15 portfolio photos for free via the online system, but 4 or 5 excellent, well-chosen photos are much better. For copyright reasons the name of the photographer should always be credited.

Top tips:

  • Be selective - only choose the best professional images. Poor quality images reflect badly
  • Think objectively - what does a particular photo say about you? Look at the context of the photo. Does it give a good impression?
  • Does your photo look like you do now? If you were a casting director would you know yourself from your picture when called for a meeting/audition?
  • You can and should show a diversity of looks - varied shots demonstrating different facial hair, hairstyles, etc - but make sure your main photo accurately represents you.
  • Don't upload holiday photos, modelling or glamour shots or uncropped photos from your phone or tablet
  • If included, production stills should be professional and kept to a minimum. Don't upload numerous photos of the same production, just one will do. The centre of attention should always be you not other performers - it should be clear who you are!
  • Stills of you on set or with the crew, or on a red carpet, are likely to be seen as a 'vanity' shots. Be mindful how this looks to a casting professional
  • Always use the original file supplied by the photographer - don't upload a screen grab from a mobile device
  • Photographs should not contain a copyright watermark, an embedded photographer credit, or borders
  • Spotlight does not publish images containing guns or other weapons unless in the context of a production still, nor do we include print advertorials/posters etc
  • If you are unsure whether to use a photo then don't!

Further useful information about photos can be found here including our podcast 'What makes for a good actor's photo?'

Technical specifications

You shouldn't need to worry about technical specifications too much but quality is important.

Just ask your photographer for a high resolution (i.e. high quality) ‘web’ image or set your own camera to photo quality ‘normal’ or ‘better’ (depending on the camera used) and size ‘medium’ to obtain a photo suitable for displaying on a website.

Technically this is at least 72ppi (pixels per inch) and an image size of about 800 x 1000 pixels. But note that most cameras can produce images smaller than this, which you should avoid.

All professional photographers can supply you with an image suitable for displaying on a website.

Supplying photographs

If we ask you to resupply a photo for any reason you can send an image by email (as an attachment). Please do not embed an image in an email. Make sure you state your Spotlight name, a contact number where necessary and your photographer credit. We cannot take responsibility for unnamed photographs.

If you have a question, please contact [email protected] or call 020 7437 7631 during office hours only.

Your photographer

Choosing a photographer can be a difficult decision. Always make sure you confirm exactly what you will get as part of the shoot, i.e. how long the session will be for and how many images/prints will be supplied as part of the deal. Some insight into your first headshot session as an adult performer is available on our website, as well as for young performers.

Make sure you do your research and become familiar with the work of the photographers you like. Contacts is a useful starting point.

How can I manage my photographs on Spotlight?

Once you are signed into your account, you or your agent can make changes to your Spotlight photos. Go to the ‘Manage Media’ area. There you will be able to add, remove, hide and reorder your photos.

Your showreel 

What advice is there for me about my showreel?

We have a wealth of information here that can help answer all your questions, from articles to videos and mini-podcasts. Take a look!

How can I manage my showreel or voicereel on Spotlight?

Once you are signed into your account you or your agent can make changes to your Spotlight showreel and voicereel. Go to the ‘Manage Media’ area where you will be able to add a five minute showreel and a five minute voicereel. 

I don’t know how to edit my showreel before I upload it, can Spotlight help?

Yes! Our professional editing service is for performers who need to edit their video material together into a showreel for their Spotlight profile. Please check here for details. Or, if you want to give it a go yourself watch our handy guide on how to make a showreel.