A headshot or headshot is a modern (usually digital) portrait in which the focus is on the person. The term is applied usually for professional profile images on social media, images used on online dating profiles, the 'about us page' or a corporate website, and promotional pictures of actors, models, and authors.
In theater, film, and television, actors, models, singers, and other entertainers are often required to include a headshot, along with their résumé, when applying for a job. Those headshots are intended for helping them land a career, an actor headshot should help to cast directors to understand the person exactly as he or she is (ie. age group & ethnic background), while the actor hopes that the headshot will inspire the casting director to hire him or her. Headshots often feature the actor or actress facing off-center. A performer will often have headshots expressing different poses and expressions to give a potential employer an idea of the subject's range of appearances or expressions. These types of headshots are called "looks". It is common for an actor to have different headshots for different roles, but for the most part, these consist of a change in attire. The headshots that include a person's shoulders are called "three-quarter" shots. Previously, headshots were often in black-and-white; however, most headshots are now taken in color.
Actors' headshots, when they are printed and not simply uploaded online to an industry database, are done in an 8"×10" format. Other promotional images, for example, press shots and lobby prints, maybe in many different aspect ratios. Acting headshots are often not photographic prints, instead, they are typically printed via a lithographic or laser process.
The main purpose of an actor's headshot is identification. Therefore, the most important feature of an actor's headshot is that it represents the subject. Theatrical headshots are usually very "neutral" looking shots of the actor and clearly show their facial features.
Headshots are intended to show a person as they currently appear and reflect their best qualities. Therefore, if an actor's hair has been recently cut or colored, they would often get a new headshot to reflect their new image. Additionally, if an actor has a scar or facial blemish, it is expected to be visible on the headshot and not digitally removed from the image. Pimples or spots are temporary and, therefore, are usually digitally retouched.