Many times, I’m asked to help select headshots for my students. What I look for is what I believe the casting directors, directors and agents are seeing after you have left the room after an audition or an interview. Rarely are you ever going to need more than 2 shots — one for film, TV or theatre, and one for commercials or industrials. That smiley commercial shot is probably good for musical comedy, as well. If you’re a dancer, you might want to make sure that you’re showing more of your body than just your face. To try to hone down the endless results from a shoot, make sure that the composition and contrast of the shot is workable. For instance, if you have dark hair and the background is dark if there is not enough definition, it will look like your face is popping out of the void and will look strange. Your photographer should know to recommend clean lines and subtle patterns for what you are wearing. Women should not have bare shoulders, in case you end up cropping the picture, so that you end up looking undressed. The style, collars and colors should not compete with your face. Try to find clothes that are crisp and with colors that are flattering to your tone and not competing for attention.
The most important element of your shot, other than that it really looks like you, is that you are relating to the camera and that there is something in your expression that is interested, interesting and communicative. Don’t go with the shot that you think your mother would love to have on the mantel. Find what represents you professionally and gives a sense of how you want to be seen as an actor. Be realistic about who you are in this industry. Not everyone needs a glamor shot, necessarily. Your headshot is your calling card. Make sure that it says what you want people to know about you.