Actress headshot and portrait photography session

I had an email from an actress called Deb who urgently needed some headshot and portrait shots for agencies. My jobs are usually word-of-mouth so it was quite unusual to have the job come in from a Google search. Her testimonial, down below, was lovely!

It’s not often that I get specific details for the shoot when people contact me. Deb was great because she knew she needed headshot and portrait photos, 2 change of clothes, 3 types of hairstyle, A plain white background and a ‘flat but interesting’ lighting set-up (no shadows).

My set-up looked like this:

As you could see, with the Christmas tree up, I didn’t have much room for where I was positioned 😁

I had Deb sit on the stool and initially it’s just testing the lighting and tweaking. We chat and have a giggle during this phase. It’s important because it helps us both relax into it.

Once the lighting is ready I’ll take a few different shots at different angles to find the more pleasing poses. I also put a chair in front of the stool as having something to lean on really helps.

I never post lots of photos from a shoot but to give you an idea I will post a couple. The most important thing for me is the catchlight in the eyes. With that, the photo comes alive. Without it the photos always feel lifeless.

Headshot with hair down and neutral colours

It is a bit of a gamble allowing each client to see every photo as we go along. I shoot in Raw format and with lenses that are very, very sharp. They pick up every spot, dimple and blemish.

I have to point out at least once to concentrate on the poses and not the blemishes and wrinkles. I spend quality time after the shoot on post-production, making your photos as good as I can.

The main thing is that the photos must be real. For actors it is vitally important that when they walk into an audition, they need to look like the photo. I soften things down in my own way, but I don’t remove the real-life textures and features on the face.

Yes, I edit the photos so they are more pleasing. My editing style is really refined now. The photos still look natural. The skin still has pores in the skin and even wrinkles. What I do is soften and tone them down. Any spot or blemish that wouldn’t be there in a months time is removed. Any part of you that makes you who you are (freckles, moles etc) will always remain.

Deb also needed a more ‘I’m in-charge’ look. A change of clothes and a different hairstyle and we captured this shot:

The clothing really helped bring the colour of her eyes.

Again, the spec for the shoot was white background and even lighting. We started off with more shadows but quickly got to this point and this was exactly what she wanted for the acting agencies.

When you pay me it’s never just the time taking the photos. The set-up, putting away and post-production can add hours on top.

Deb’s feedback when she saw the photos was so lovely:

“Thank you so much for doing the two sets! I love them – you’ve made me look stunning, strong and professional.  My confidence is sky high now!  Bless you. Wishing you all the very best!”

If you’d like to have a chat with me about having your portrait done, please visit my headshot photography and portrait photography page.


I had my roll of white paper for the backdrop in case I needed to roll it along the floor for any full body shots (It wasn’t mentioned but always be prepared 🙂).

Camera setup:
– Sony A9
– Sony 70-200GM lens at 135mm.
1/160, F8-F11 and ISO 100-200.
Camera tethered to my mac using the Sony remote software.

Lighting setup:
– Godox AD600 Pro
– 2x Godox AD200
– Godox V1
– Large reflector for bounce light
– Small reflector below to fill in the shadows.

I usually have a Speedlight with a grid or stripbox with a grid to add a highlight and separation light on the hair. In this case, no shadows wanted, so one of the AD200’s was bouncing off the ceiling and wall to light all the hair evenly.

Simon Day

If you have a wedding, portrait, event or festival coming up please contact me. Likewise for portraits. Check out my social media channels: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter