Headshots are essential for every actor’s portfolio, but they are actually quite limiting in terms of creativity.
When a casting director is looking through countless submissions for a part, they want the actor to have an almost ‘expressionless’ face. This allows them to simply see the facial structure and skin colour as a blank canvas. If they are looking for an actor to play the role of someone with depression, a smiling profile photo isn’t going to be their preferred choice. Keep it plain. An actor will have the chance to show they can actually play the part during auditions.
The shots should be face on, or slightly to the side, with the eyes towards the camera. Lighting should be natural, or at least consistent. I use a 3-light set up, to minimise harsh shadows and highlights. Using my own studio means I can control light at any time of day.
Make up is minimal, again making sure everything looks natural. I just do a little post processing afterwards, removing temporary blemishes, and use frequency separation to finish*
*This has a similar effect to airbrushing, whilst keeping details like skin pores, thus looking more natural.
The image left/above shows the effect Frequency Separation has on the image. Simply slide the slider to show before/after effect.