What to wear to a headshot photo session

Coming in for an actor headshot shoot? Not sure what to bring, how much is too much or if you can shave in the session? Here is our ultimate guide to what to bring and wear for your actor headshots.

What to wear for a headshot photo session 001 | Mid Tones
For your actor headshots, mid-tones such as red’s, oranges, browns and green’s work so well in giving a warm tone to your headshot.

From our studios in Chiswick (London) and Bristol, we photograph hundreds of actor headshot sessions every year. Before each headshot session, we offer as much help as possible for you to prepare. From getting lots of sleep and drinking water through to how to find the studio.

One main worry for many actors is around the clothes that they should bring. How much is too much? Are patterns okay? Below is our definitive guide on clothing for a headshot photography session. Of course, if you do have any questions, just call us on 07810 004451.

How much to bring

Just how many tops, etc. should you bring to a headshot session. The simple answer is as many as you can! You can never bring too many tops or have too many ideas. We may not use all the clothes but certainly bring lots with you.

If it looks like you are moving in, you have probably brought enough tops (just!)

On the headshot shoot, we can talk about what colours and styles will work well with our lighting as well as your colouring and work through as many tops and looks as we can. Even in an hour-long shoot, we typically shoot between 4 and 6 completely different looks.

What colours do we recommend wearing for your headshots?

Warm tones for headshots.
Wearing warm tones for your headshots is a great choice for conveying an approachable character.

So what colours do look best in headshots? We recommend mid-tones including both warm and cooler tones. Examples of warm tones are Browns, Orange, Greens, Deep Reds, Yellow (Mustard Yellow is amazing!!!). Cooler tones include greys, blues and whites. We can convey a lot about your personality and potential playing type by the colours that you wear. Warm tones will typically portray an approachable personality while cold tones subconsciously convey the opposite.  

Yellow works very well for headshots
Mustard yellow works very well across all skin tones and styles of tops.

Its best that the tops fit you well. Not too tight and certainly not too loose. We want to show your physical shape to some degree to highlight why you are perfect for the brief the casting has sent out!

Notice how the cooler tones of blues, whites and greys convey a very different feeling than the warm tones.

For examples of styles of tops that work well, have a look at the images on this page or click a link below to either the men’s or women’s portfolios.

Click for Women’s actor headshots portfolio

Click for Men’s actor headshots portfolio

Layering clothes for a great look!

What to wear for a actor headshot shoot | Layering clothes to include shirts and jackets works very well.
Adding a jacket or shirt over a top really adds something to an actor headshot.

Layering is one of the great secrets to amazing headshots. While single layers can work well, layering creates depth. Adding a shirt and / or jacket to a t-shirt or top can create a whole different look and character to your headshot. Leather jackets work very well under the studio lights as well. Bring a variety of jackets with you even if its summer and hot outside. Many of our clients borrow jackets from friends to give them a wider variety.

Changing your hair / Shaving your Beard

Changing hair styles for your headshots
Its amazing the difference putting your hair up can make for your headshots.

If you have long hair, we will shoot most of your headshot session with your hair down. However, it’s also a good idea to have a few images with your hair up. It can dramatically change your persona and the character that casting directors believe you may be suitable for. We have a mirror, hairdryer and hair product to help if need be.

Shaving for your headshots
By all means shave during your session to give a different look. If you have sensitive skin, it may be worth booking a longer session.

If you would like to remove stubble or your beard during the shoot, that’s absolutely fine. It may be worth considering one of our longer sessions so you are not shaving in a panic. Again this will give you a great range and show different character possibilities. Any redness or razor rash can be addressed in Photoshop later although it’s a good idea to bring whatever products suit your skin best to reduce that naturally.  

Black T-Shirts….

Black T-Shirts can look great in your headshot
Black T-Shirts can look great in your headshot. Just remember that everyone will bring one. Try and stand out when you can.

The most common item that any actor brings is a classic black t-shirt. In fact, there have been occasions when that’s all the actor brought! If you have been to drama school, you have probably lived in a black t-shirt for 3 years or more and have a great collection. However, something to bear in mind is that everyone brings one to the shoot. The ideal aim of your actor headshot is to stand out from all the other actors vying for a role. Being another performer in another black t-shirt may not help you to stand out. By all means bring one but maybe as part of a layered look with a jacket, etc.

Actor headshots | wearing off the shoulder black tops.
I think ‘off the shoulder’ black tops must be issued at drama school! They look great but remember everyone seems to have one!

Should you wear patterns for your actor headshots?

While we typically say to avoid patterns, we don’t want to remove your personality. Jessy wouldn’t be the same without her patterns and jewellery.


99% of the time, we would say to avoid patterns and logos. Don’t worry about small emblems such as on an ‘All Saints’ t-shirt but do avoid a massive Adidas across the chest (yes, we did have an actor in with just that for their shoot). Our aim is for the clothing to compliment rather than to distract. Casting directors will spend very little time looking at your headshot and you ideally don’t want them distracted by the top and missing that amazing look in your eyes. Subtle lace edges and frills are of course fine.  


There are different schools of thought with regards to jewellery and how much to wear in a headshot shoot. Our thoughts are that as long as its subtle and not distracting then it’s fine. We often have clients with subtle earrings and necklaces.

Nose rings: If you can remove your nose ring for the shoot then we would recommend it. Some can be really fiddly o hard to remove in which case, leave it in and we can remove it later. For your professional headshots, I wouldn’t have it in there. Just in case it goes against you when they are casting for a period piece.

It’s amazing how a few simple changes to your look can change the character that you portray.


If you always wear glasses then by all means let’s shoot a few headshots with them on. However, casting directors want to see your face and if you are suitable for the role they have in mind. Typically we would shoot without glasses, they can always be added for a specific role.

In summary, bring lots and lots and lots of tops of varying colours, avoid too many patterns and keep jewellery simple. Apart from that, look forward to your actor headshot session and we look forward to seeing you soon!

If you have any questions, call Helen on 07810004451 or email us at hello@lumosia.couk

Please follow us on Instagram
  • It’s amazing what a shave can do! Had a fantastic long session with Alex which gave him the chance to shave and capture more looks. He is returning after a few years out. Don’t think he will struggle much! #actorheadshots #headshotphotographer
  • Soon to be the new kind of #bollywood is Faran. Amazing energy this guy has came from #birmingham to have a full set of #headshots @officialfarankalra
  • One from Angelika’s recent #headshot shoot. After graduating, she is now focusing on screen and film #acting
  • Morning all, full day In the London studio today. #actors every hour for their #headshots
  • The amazing whirlwind that is Ayesha Staley @ayeshaa_staley  Amazing personality and a plan for her future. Keep an eye on this lady! #headshots #headshotphotographer #headshotphotography
  • Can you believe that Katie had a baby this year!!! We often have strong colours in our backgrounds but I also love this fresh and clean look for #headshots
  • Lovely to see Danielle @danimcf back in the studio again with her new fringe. Can’t believe what a difference it has made!!!
  • What do you bring to a #headshot shoot? We have updated our guide. No live link on Instagram just copy www.lumosia.co.uk/blog and you can click on the article from there. Lots of useful info. Please share.

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