Mar 13

Does Your Child Need Professional Headshots?

The question “Does my child need professional headshots?” is one that many parents ask when their child begins an acting career.

When we first considered pursuing acting for my daughter 11 years ago, I didn’t even know what a headshot was, much less whether she needed professional headshots! I bought a book about acting for children, and it said a couple of snapshots was all I needed to get started.

So I took my daughter outside and took some pictures of her with my instamatic camera. I’m not much of a photographer, and that was not much of a camera. And the results were NOT impressive.

Then  I sent a couple of the snapshots to two agencies that were about 3  hours away (in Atlanta, the nearest big city). I did not hear anything back from them, and I really was not sure what to do next.

So, what is the answer to that question “Does your child need professional headshots?

The  answer really is no, but with a couple of caveats. While it is true that you can use your own snapshots to send to potential agents and managers and to put on casting sites, it is important that the photos:

  • are good quality (i.e., in focus, with good lighting),
  • are in color,
  • look just like your child,
  • are very natural (no makeup and no glamour shots),
  • show your child’s personality, and
  • include at least one close-up of your child’s face,

In addition to having at least one close-up, it is good to have one shot that shows  more of your child’s body shape, particularly for print, and one that is more of a personality shot to send to prospective agents or managers.

Headshots are called headshots for good reason. It is mainly a picture  of just the face or just the shoulders and face. With the shift to online casting in today’s world,  casting directors often have to select from a screen full of tiny pictures, so having a good close-up is especially important!

With digital photography, it is much easier to get some good snapshots of your child since you can view them instantly.  But if you don’t have a decent camera or if your photography skills are poor, get someone who is better at it to take some for you.

It is certainly not a bad thing to have professional headshots for your child, so if you want to have some made and are not worried about the money, go ahead. You can also use photos from a previous photography session if they were taken within the last few weeks and meet the criteria above.

Keep in mind that when you find an agent or manager for your child, they usually require that you have new headshots made by a photographer from their list of preferred photographers.  They will also want to select the headshots you will use for your child.

I’ll be discussing more on the topic of headshots and when your child needs new ones in future posts. Don’t forget to post any comments and questions you may have!

Please subscribe to my Acting Newsletter for tips on getting good headshots for your child and many other acting  topics.


1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. Leon Huang@Wedding Photojournalist

    With DSLR so common these days, I’m sure you can easily find a friend or relative to take a decent quick snap of a headshot.

  2. Dharma@Bali Wedding

    not just snaphot..HD video now in single unit..cool..easy..

  3. syb

    I just want 3 really nice headshots of my daughter. However I have no idea where & who to go to. I understand that it will cost but I can’t “break the bank” on them. I tried with my cameras & I’ve come to the conclusion… that I suck. I’m from Brooklyn & I feel very out of my element here in Atlanta. HELP!!!

  4. Susie

    Hi, My daughter was recently in contact with an agency, she sent in some unprofessional pictures of her, ones that were taken in the mall, and they told her she must have an industry photo done. There are two places she is considering, one is much less than the other, I want to make the right decision, so I would be extremely helpful if you helped me out on who you think best fits her age and would take a great industy photo for her. She is 15 by the way.



    Thanks so much by the way;
    * do you e-mail the answer back, because I have a hard time remembering I posted a question [:

  5. Mary

    I would really like to know when taking pictures for a 13 year old should you go for looking older or younger.

  6. Nick

    I have a vested interest in this topic as I am one of the UK’s busiest children’s theatrical photographers shooting over 1500 kids a year.
    Bearing that in mind I have to say that it’s imperative that your child has a headshot by a specialsit photographer.


    When you think about how competitive the children’s market is you need to give your child every advanatge you can and a headshot that shows your child with bags of personality, well lit, composed correctly and most importantly have a twinkle in their eyes.
    I also understand that some photographers are very expensive but there are people out here who do a great job at a reasonable price.
    If you’re going to enter your child into this market – make sure you give them the best chance of getting noticed by employing a good, reputable agency and by investing in a great headshot.


  7. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Mary,

    Sorry I did not see your question sooner!
    When taking pictures of a 13-year-old, you really don’t want to go older or younger but instead to try to capture your child exactly as he or she is. You definitely want to avoid dressing your child in a way that will make him/her look too mature. At this age, no makeup is the best way to go. You can do a little touchup if needed but no eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner or heavy blush or lipstick. Also avoid any poses that are suggestive in any way.
    Take care,

  8. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Nick,

    I definitely agree with your comments. To be competitive in this very tough industry, professional headshots are really important. Only in the beginning when seeking an agent are headshots really a good idea to avoid spending money before it is necessary.

    Thanks for commenting!

  9. TrevaFlowers@ymail.com

    Hello, my son is seven years old and he has qualities about himself that I’m wondering if I do not act on it now, would I regret it later, with that being said I would like to know if you know of a reputable talent agency in Tucson Az that we can visit.

  10. Stay@homemom

    I have been lucky enough to find a good photographer here in my area that dose great pic’s for tfp. I’m going to have them done this summer as soon as school is out for my 6 yr. old. The only thing I am kind of stuck on is what clothes should I put on them for the photoshoot?(since i’m trying to stick to a budgit of $100.00 or less to spend on the clothes for the shoot.) I am haveing my 6 and 2 yr. old pic’s done and they are both mixed and have a light to medium brown skin color. So I really want to make sure I pick the right colors and age style of clothing. I have heard that using the gap kids or american egale ads is a good guide? I could really use your advice on this. 😀 Thank you for your blog and all of your great advice. 😉

  11. Debbie Sikkema

    I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog. Thanks for reading and thanks for the compliment.

    Are you having modeling photos for a comp or zed card done or just headshots for acting? Also, I am not sure if your children are boys or girls… For headshots, the focus is primarily on the face, so often only the shoulders and up shows. Simple is good for these, and usually solids or semi-solids in bright colors of tee shirts will work, especially for boys. Blue denim or blue denim color is great on many skin tones. Layers also tend to look great (jacket, vest, or sweater with a shirt underneath or tank underneath–more for girls than boys). Often the photographer can give you some advice — call and ask him what he suggests, and if you already have talent agent(s) or talent manager(s), you should ask their advice. Many have favorite looks or colors, particularly based on your child’s coloring and type. Otherwise, if the photographer will help choose, take a collection of different colors and let him pick what will look good. Typically, I’d avoid whites, blacks, and grays, and go with different shades of blues, greens, pinks, reds, and maybe even yellow. Avoid clothing with logos (unless these are modeling photos in which case a small logo might be okay). Logos can be removed on the photos, but you’ll have to do that or pay a fee for it. Occasionally, a white or black shirt might be used for a theatrical shot. For headshots for girls, avoid clothes that look too prissy and frilly. Simple is best. What you see in catalogs such as Gap kids might be helpful, particularly for modeling photos. I talk more about getting photos done in my 12 part mini-course if you subscribed to my list, so be sure to read it (if you have gotten it). But depending on when you are getting the photos done, you might not get that part in time! I’d look at different recent children’s headshots in photographer’s photo galleries (in the area where you are especially) to get ideas. Hope this helps!

  12. Stay@homemom

    Thank you so much for getting back to me so fast! :mrgreen: I’m going to find out if I can have both modeling and headshot’s done.(sorry)They are both girl’s with curly brown hair. 😳 They don’t have a manager or agent yet.I have subscribed to your mini-course.I am trying to get there pic’s done by the end of june. I’ve heard that strightening my oldest daughter’s hair will give her a different look ( makes her look a little bit older) and then that way she would have 2 look’s. Do you think that’s a good idea? Thank you so much for your advice on this 😀

  13. Christin@brand And design manager

    Vаluable info. Fortunate me Ι fοund уour site acсiԁentallу, anԁ I am ѕurρrised
    why thiѕ accident did nοt hapρenеԁ еarlier!
    I bookmarkеd it.

  1. What Is a Headshot? | Your Young Actor

    […] to: “Does Your Child Need Professional Headshots?” and “How Often Does Your Child Need Headshots?” on my blog for more on the topic […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

By submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. This applies to any content you include in your comment.