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Actor Headshot Editing and Retouching

Updated: Jul 18

When talking headshots, nearly every casting director I have spoken to says the same thing, "Natural is better." Too much editing and retouching is basically manipulation. When the casting director discovers that you do not look like your headshot, a callback will likely not happen. So, it is important that your headshot looks like the real you.

While you can potentially edit and retouch your own headshot after doing extensive research and self-teaching, it is best to hire a professional in order to get the best quality photos. Headshots are too important to your acting career to penny pinch and attempt to do them yourself.

With that said, it is still good for you to know potential retouching areas to look out for in your headshot. That way, you can make informed decisions and know what you want when you hand these edits to a professional.

Here’s a quick list of what to look for:

1. Any temporary imperfections such as scars, stray hairs or blemishes can be removed.

2. However, if you have any permanent imperfections such as frown lines or beauty moles, don’t remove them completely. They simply need to be softened a little. The goal of retouching is to make you look like the best version of yourself. Not to make you look completely different.

3. Pay attention to any shadows and lighting issues that take away from the photo. For example, sometimes it helps the photo to reduce the dull grays and use saturation to enhance the colors. However, any contrast and saturation editing should be done sparingly.

And remember, don’t be too critical of yourself. Casting Directors do not care if your eyes appear small or if your smile is crooked. They only hope that you look like your headshot and can perform well. So, don’t overthink it.

Here is a great article from Backstage with additional guidelines.

If you have any more questions or would like to schedule a headshot session with retouching, feel free to contact me!

Bio: I offer fashion, lifestyle | Slice of Life, advertising, corporate and editorial photography for brands and ad agencies in Los Angeles and New York; to include actor and business headshots in Los Angeles.

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