Headshot Photography

How Many Headshots Do You Need Exactly? 3 Types

March 20, 2023 by

In this guide, we’ll be discussing how many headshots you need to have in your portfolio.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

How Many Headshots Do You Need?

In general, it’s best to have more than one headshot, no matter what your profession is.

The reason for this is because of the different platforms that we now exist on. For example, there are personal profiles such as social media sites, dating sites, etc.

We also have professional profiles such as job networking sites, job finding sites, email profiles, etc.

So instead of thinking about how many headshots you need as a specific number, think about how many online profiles you have, the culture of each profile (whether it’s professional like LinkedIn or more casual like Instagram), and then make sure you have a headshot for each profile.

This answers how many headshots any “average” person needs, but if you are an actor or online personality, it is a bit different since you being in front of a camera is a big part of your job.

With that being said, let’s explore how many headshots actors need.

How Many Headshots Do Actors Need?

The first thing to note is that some actors only need one type of headshot; either a profile or portrait.


A profile shot is less formal and shows the side of an actor’s face, often with them looking over their shoulder.

This is used for all your social media sites, email profiles, etc.


A portrait shot is more formal and shows the front profile of an actor’s face. The photographer will often get down to their level, take the photo straight on ,and possibly use natural lighting.

actor headshot example
portrait facing

This is used for your professional profiles such as job hunting websites/networking sites, acting agency portfolios, etc.

With that being said, most actors will still need both of these types of headshots.

3 Types of Headshots

Actors also need to have three versions of each type; close up, mid range and full body. This is because some photos are cropped into the side profile shot or top-down for full body shots.

1. Close Up Headshot Photo

One thing to note is that your close up headshot needs to be very clear, sharp and professional looking.

It should represent the best you have physically so that when others look at your photo, they see you for who you are, rather than focusing on any flaws or imperfections.

2. Mid-Range Headshot Photo

The mid range headshot is less formal than your close up headshot; it shows half of the face (depends on how close the photographer is) and also shows your shoulders.

This should be a good representation of what you look like, but should not take away from that first impression as seen in your close up headshot.

3. Full Body Photo

Finally, the full body shot is used for those sites where all they use is a top-down view of an actor.

This is used for your email profile, dating sites, etc.

How Many Headshots Do Actors Need for an Audition?

When it comes to actors looking for an audition, they will need more than one headshot.

However, the number of headshots that are needed also depends on where they are auditioning and their specific role for said audition.

For example, if you are trying out for a play in New York City ,they may not require any headshots at all.

However, if you are trying out for a play in Vancouver , they may require two close up headshots and two portrait headshots.

Also, if an actor is trying out for a role that requires them to be on-screen, then they need to have three versions of each type since their photos will be cropped into a side profile and top-down shot.

This is because the camera will be placed directly in front of them during filming, not to the side like how a photographer would take a photo for your email headshot or social media sites.

It also depends on whether they are an actor who has been around for awhile already (meaning they know what is expected of them) or if they are new to the industry (meaning they need more guidance).

Finally, with regards to an audition headshot, it is important to note that you want your photos to be different than how you normally look.

This means that you cannot use any photo where your hair looks messy, your clothes aren’t ironed, or where you have a lot of makeup on.

You need to look as professional as possible because if the production team likes your audition, then they may choose you based on what you look like in person and how that looks through your photos.

actor headshot photo

In order to avoid any confusion later down the line, it is best to use headshots that make you look like the actor that they are looking for right off the bat.

In general, if you are an actor there are three different types of headshots you can opt for — the commercial headshot look, the theatrical headshot look, and the comedic headshot look.

Different Styles of Headshots You Can Opt For

1. Commercial Headshot Look

A commercial headshot is meant to make you look like a model/personality.

A commercial headshot generally has the actor looking directly into the camera, making eye contact, and smiling or having a neutral expression on their face.

They can also be taken with natural lighting or with studio lighting by using off camera flash so that your photos do not have shadows across your face .

This type of headshot is often done with studio lighting and a nice background to make the actor look as professional as possible.

You want these types of headshots if you are auditioning for commercials and they want someone who looks like a TV personality.

commercial headshot example
neutral grey background

2. Theatrical Headshot Look

A theatrical headshot tends to be taken with more emotional expressions and less professional/neutral expressions.

theatrical headshot example
theatrical look – more expressive

A theatrical headshot generally has the actor posing in an emotional way, such as with a small frown or looking off to the side instead of directly into the camera.

These types of headshots are used for independent film.

3. Comedic Headshot Look or “Silly Headshots”

A comedic headshot is often done with the actor wearing a wardrobe piece that they feel makes them look silly.

For example, if an actor has a small afro, then they might wear a long scarf and glasses to give themselves a funny look. These types of headshots are also done with crazy eyes and facial expressions.

This type of headshot is often used for comedy auditions like stand up comedy and theater auditions.

comedic headshot example
comedic (silly) headshot

Final Remarks

We hope that this guide was helpful and answered any questions regarding how many headshots an actor needs.

This guide is also a part of our Headshot Photography Hub, so be sure to check that out for more headshot photography tips and insights.

Good luck with your career, and hopefully this article helped you out!