Weekly Tips & Tricks: How to Nail Facial Expressions While Shooting Your Acting Headshot
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Weekly Tips & Tricks: How to Nail Facial Expressions While Shooting Your Acting Headshot


It's no surprise that expressions are happening on the outside, but a great headshot has a lot to do with what’s going on “inside”.


When someone steps in front of the camera nerves can make it difficult to focus on the goal of the headshot. Setting a goal during your session is easy once you get the hang of it. When you are choosing what kind of expression you want in your headshot you want to make sure you know two important things.


1. What are these photos for?

Are these commercial or theatrical headshots?


2. What do you want people to say about you?

Do you want to come off as excitable, calm, funny, or serious? Whatever it may be, know which goal you want to achieve beforehand and tell your photographer during your pre-shoot image consultation, this will help you both be on the same page about what your intentions are for the session.




Commercial Headshots

If these photos are for commercials, then you want big, bright, happy expressions. Smiling with teeth, laughing, and exuberant expressions are great for commercial headshots.


Theatrical Headshots

If these photos are more theatrical, then you’ll want a range of subtle expressions. Have a character trait in mind before you start shooting. That will help you and your photographer find the expressions that you need.


If you are unsure of what expressions you need, or if you’re new to the industry and aren’t sure about what you will be going out for yet, then I’ve got something for you. The three S’s.


  • Serious

  • Smirk

  • Smile


The Three S’s give you a way to start from a relaxed place and then increase your range of expression gradually. Your headshot photographer will also be able to help guide and assist with any questions you have. Being in front of the camera for your headshot can feel intimidating, but remember to have fun!


Range of Expressions means starting small and building up

Once the photo session begins, start slow, try taking a few photos with a serious or neutral expression. Don’t do too much with your face or eyes when you begin. Just take a breath, look into the camera, and think about the goals you discussed with your photographer, you can even repeat that one word in your head during your session. After a few photos, try smirking. A smirk is easy to do and gives a little more warmth to a picture without being too much. After a few more photos, smile. As soon as you feel your smile start to falter, you can let it go and go through the three S’s again. The key is to take it slow between each of your expressions. It may feel like you’re not doing a lot but the difference between each subtle expression will really help to showcase your range and castability.


Please reach out with any comments or if you have topics you would like to see covered let us know. For more info about how to work with us please visit headshottruck.com.


Ready to book your actor headshot? Great! Our team of headshot experts and professional headshot photographers are ready to assist. Simply give us a call at 855-729-7465.





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