The most important thing is that your headshot look like you. When actors submit for a project, casting directors are looking at a sea of little pictures on a website and putting a check next to the ones that look like what they want. So the lighting must be clear, and the photo must read at a small size, look exactly like you when you walk in the door, and look like your type.
Oana Gregory's headshot shows that the eyes truly are the mirror of one's sole. Notice how warm, opening, and interesting she looks. Her eyes show strength and vulnerability at a glance.
Brendon Eggertsen's photo reflects his intensity, strength, and sensitivity. He is raw and direct. He can play powerful characters with depth.
If you saw either Oana or Christian in person, you would see that they look just like their headshots.
It's all in the eyes! Here in their headshots, actors Megan Boyle and Taveon Powe are both open, approachable, warm, and engaging. They emit a spirit, a personality, and a feeling. That's exactly what you want in a headshot - you want the casting director to feel all that. Natural light and not flash can sometimes make it easier to feel more natural and yourself; spontaneous and being, not posing. Their eyes are alive! Casting directors and agents like this because not only do the actors look like their headshots but the CDs and agents get a sense of communication and honesty.
What makes the headshot of Michael Viruet successful is his warm eye contact and smile. This is also a good example of a three-quarter shot that works, because in showing some of his body, we are able to see that he is in good shape. We may not get that with a tighter headshot.
Sarah Madden's smile is so infectious and genuine, as is her personality. You are drawn to her smile, both in the expression in her eyes and in her compelling smile.
The business you are in involves getting up in front of an audience and giving them an experience, touching their heart in a way that makes them fall in "love" with you. The same applies to your pictures. You are trying to get the casting director's attention. All the photographers will tell you, "You need a picture that jumps out and says something about you." Well, yes, but what you want every time, whether it's your picture or your audition, is for them to fall in love with you.
We all have something about us that is lovable. Is it your sense of humor, your warmth, your sense of honor, your loyalty? Really sit down and think about your best qualities. And by that I mean your qualities, not the ones you want to emulate. What is it about you that makes you lovable? Take some time to think about this and then practice in a mirror or with your iPhone or a video camera. Come prepared knowing who you are. Then take the picture.