Is your headshot really that important?

...YES! Your headshot is a crucial part of your package- in fact, it’s the front cover! We always say that your audition starts as soon as you walk in the room; but your headshot is what gets you in the room in the first place. It’s the single most important marketing tool for a performer. Don’t cut corners! When that little headshot jpeg pops up on a casting director’s computer or placed in a stack in front of them, you want them to say, “Yes, bring that person in!” Not “Yikes, that kid kinda scares me.” Make sure your first impression sets you up for success!

You want to be seen as a pro, not an amateur, so the way you present yourself in your picture is everything. If you want people to take you seriously, you must have a current (within the last year), high quality, killer headshot. Not an iPhone pic, not an instagram photo of you outside with the wind gently blowing your hair, and not a JCPenney glamour shot with palm trees in the background that you printed at Walgreens. Save those for Nanna's mantel. :)

Here are some great tips from Piyali Syam at

Make sure it looks like you. 

Casting directors expect you to look just like your headshot, and will not be happy when you show up looking totally different, or 10 years older. It’s not about looking pretty, it’s about representing your type, age wrinkles included. Girls, be yourself, do your hair the way you would for every audition. You should have at least two to three looks. It’s standard to have a theatrical, more serious shot, and a smiling commercial shot showing your teeth. 

Yes, lots can be done with retouching. There is no need to put on tons of makeup. You want to look like yourself on your best day- not look like you tried too hard. It should look like you as you are now. It’s not about the type you want to be, it’s the type you are. Your headshot should show casting directors both the intangibles and tangibles of you as an actor: how you look on camera/stage, 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.


Simplicity is key for headshot wardrobe: the focus in your headshot should be squarely on you: not your clothes. Busy patterns and large, distracting jewelry are a no-go. Bright jewel tones are best: red, blue, green, yellow...any solid, primary color. You know what looks best on you: pick colors that bring out your eyes and compliment your skin tone. Layers are a good way to give a second "look." Stay away from white (which can wash you out) and black (which can give the illusion of absorbing light from the rest of the photo).

We are thrilled to have portrait photographer, Tony Dillard, offer this opportunity to students of The Lesson House. Tony says, "Anything I can do to help young performers get their names out there!" 

Saturday, January 20th

  • 2 looks (1 outfit change)
  • 10-15 images (sent digitally, formatted 8x10) 
  • $75.00 / 15% off for House Members! 

Tony Dillard is a Oklahoma-based portrait photographer and documentarian. A lover of new places and things, Tony's storytelling extends across 12 different countries, and counting. His resume includes work with dozens of local directors, businesses and churches. Tony's desire to serve and yearning curiosity for the new have already led him to some beautifully troubled places, but his appetite for exposure keeps him going, striving toward new opportunities. "I want to see everything and go everywhere and do everything. I want to leave the world a little better than I found it."

To read more about Tony's adventures and see more of his work, visit