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The Essentials

Spotlight’s guide on how to book a photo shoot and get the perfect headshot for your profile

Headshots are the very first thing a prospective casting director will see of you on Spotlight, so it’s important to get every aspect of the image right. Creating the right impression with the perfect headshot will help you appear professional, stand out to casting directors and give you the best possible chance of being selected for auditions. 

Here’s our guide to getting the perfect headshot, including how to find the right photographer, what to wear to your photo shoot and what to expect after your photography session.



Finding the Right Photographer

The best way to find a photographer is through research – either from word of mouth or online. Spotlight has lots of great photographers listed in Contacts, that allows you to search by location to find a photographer that’s close to you. You can also ask your actor friends and agent which photographers they’ve used and would recommend.

Once you have a list of photographers, take a look at their previous work to get a feel for their creative understanding and make sure it aligns with the end product you’re looking for. Check if they have any testimonials from previous clients on their website or social media pages – the more positive feedback from actors, the better! 

Once you’ve found a potential photographer, contact them to book a session and discuss your requirements – such as what you hope to get from the session and what clothes they recommend you bring. It’s also good to listen to any suggestions they might have and don’t be nervous about taking their advice. They are there to help you – as well as take photographs. 

What to Wear to a Photo Shoot

Choose an outfit that aligns with your personality and compliments your style and look. Bright colours are great to create a positive vibe, but it’s best to avoid distracting patterns or anything that will make you look ill or nude. Likewise, avoid bringing props, hats and accessories that could divert a casting director’s attention away from you.

It’s a good idea to also bring some backup clothes in case the colour isn’t working or the photographer would like to try something different. It’s a good idea to keep in mind what the casting director’s first impression will be – and how your outfit will be part of that. 

What to do With Your Make-up and Facial Hair

It can be tempting to get your make-up done professionally for something as important as your performer headshots. After all, this is potentially one of the most significant photographs you’ll ever take and you will want to look your absolute best.

While it’s obviously nice to be pampered, we advise that you wear as minimal make-up as possible and keep the photos natural. 

If you’re somebody with facial hair, it’s a good idea to have some photos with the hair and some without, so consider having a shave halfway through the photo shoot to get shots of both.

What Happens After a Photo Shoot

Normally, a photographer will provide you with a selection of headshots to choose from after your shoot, which is called a contact sheet. If you’ve got an agent, this process is definitely something you should be doing alongside them. Likewise, it can be good to get a second opinion from performer colleagues or other industry contacts who know how to impress casting directors. 

Once selected, your photographer will make any necessary edits to the photos. Make sure you completely agree on the final shot before completion. Once you’re happy with them, the photographer will send you your shiny new headshots, ready to be uploaded to your Spotlight profile. 

How to Change your Headshots on Spotlight

The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing photos for Spotlight is that they should be an accurate representation of how you currently look. You want the images on your profile to be as relevant as possible to your current appearance.

It wouldn’t be a great start to an audition if you enter the room looking nothing like the casting director was expecting, right? Don’t be afraid to remove your old headshots from your profile and update them with new ones. 

To upload a photo to your Spotlight profile:

  1.  Sign into your Spotlight profile using your registered email address and password.
  2.  Click on ‘View/update my profile’ on the home page and click on the ‘edit’ icon (it looks like a pencil) to the far right of your existing photos. This will take you to your photo gallery.
  3.  Click on ‘Add photo’ and select the headshot you want to upload from where it’s stored on your device. Photographers will usually supply the headshots as ‘.jpeg’ or ‘.png’ files, which are both compatible with Spotlight.
  4.  Once the photo is selected, make any necessary edits (you won’t need to edit photos supplied by a professional photographer) and click ‘Save’ and ‘Continue’.
  5.  Add the name of the photographer and a description, if relevant. The majority of your photos won’t need any information in the description field, as this is mostly to provide names for production stills or photos of you with a family member who is also on Spotlight.
  6.  Tick the ‘Set as main headshot’ box if you would like the new photo to be the main photo on your profile. This will mean it’s the photo that comes up when you appear in casting professionals’ searches. It’s best to choose a close-up head-and-shoulders shot to be your main photo.
  7.  Click ‘Continue’. The photo will be live on your profile immediately.

To remove a photo from your Spotlight profile:

  1.  In your photo gallery, click on the photo you wish to delete.
  2.  Click ‘Delete’ and ‘Delete’ again to confirm. Please note that once a photo has been removed from our system, we won’t be able to recover it for you, so always ensure you have the photo saved to your device first.
  3.  If the photo was your main photo, you will need to select a new main photo first (by following steps 5 and 6 above) and wait for the support team to approve the new main photo (you can hide it from casting professionals in the meantime by selecting the photo, clicking ‘Hide’ and ‘Save’).

Once you’ve uploaded your photos to Spotlight, all that’s left to do is to tell the world about your new headshots. Just try not to change your look too radically before sharing them, okay? 

Find more tips about headshots in our News & Advice section.

Image credit: Kevin Grieve / Unsplash