Actor Headshot Photography Sydney

Actor headshot photography in Sydney using natural light.

Actor headshot photography in Sydney using natural light.

Ranked within the Australian film and television industry as an A grade photographer, Kiren's portrait list includes Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Julie Delpy, Olivia Newton John, Miranda Otto, Greta Scacchi, Billy Connolly, Jessica Napier, Bojana Novakovic, Alyssa Sutherland and Naomi Watts.

Kiren’s clients include: The BBC (London), Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, SBS Television, Channel 10, Channel 7, Foxtel, ICM Actor’s Management (Los Angels), CED (New York), Beyond Films International, Fox Searchlight, Ford Models (New York), Opera Australia, Belvoir St Theatre.

Actor Morgan Davies. By using no make up and very minor retouching I was able to keep Morgan's skin youthful and translucent.

Actor Morgan Davies. By using no make up and very minor retouching I was able to keep Morgan's skin youthful and translucent.

Kiren, what is it that still draws you to shoot actor headshots?

While most of my work across Sydney, Los Angeles and New York has been focused on shooting actors for magazines editorials, film posters and television productions, I still get an enormous buzz out of discovering new talent and creating headshots for aspiring acting students. There's something about that initial buzz at the beginning of one's career, where you have an abundance of energy and an unlimited amount of potential. For this reason I alway try to set aside time each week to help promote new talent.

Can you describe the method in which you work?

To me, good actor headshot photography is about giving the actor the space to be present and creating an environment where they feel comfortable and free to play with ideas. When I work with actors I like to let the photography session develop organically. I find this is the best method for creating spontaneity, which of course is where you do your best work.

Actor Headshot.jpg

Is it true that most actors hate having their photo taken?

Absolutely. When it comes to headshot photography, even experienced actors can feel uncomfortable. Suddenly you're not in-character, it's just you; completely raw and unscripted.

As an actor, if you struggle with headshots, the thing that’s going to make everything fall into place for you and give you that confidence is good on-camera direction. I've spent many years myself working as a professional model which, as a photographer has helped give me a genuine understanding of the process from both sides of the lens.

How does a photo shoot work?

Generally we start with a casual chat to discuss the best way in which to approach your headshots. This may also include styling and wardrobe options. If we're working in-studio I'll then create a lighting set up that will best optimise the look we're going for. We'll then work together taking a series of images for each look or outfit. These images are then edited down and uploaded to a private on-line proofing gallery. Proof images are un-retouched low resolution files that you will use to select your hero shots from. They can be viewed on-line by you or your agent.

Hero shots are images where your pose, expression, wardrobe etc are all working in harmony. These images will go on to be hand retouched and sent to you on-line as high resolution Jpeg files (300 dpi). You can then publish or print as many copies from each high resolution digital file as you choose. 

Do you cast actors and model for various jobs?

Yes. If anyone would like the opportunity to audition for some of the advertising and editorial campaigns I shoot, they can join me on Facebook (just go to the contact page).

Have you any hair & make up tips?

It’s important to keep in mind that although you may be used to applying make up for film, video and stage productions, make up for photography shoots can differ in a number of ways. Firstly, it only requires a very light application. Secondly, photography images are produced with retouching in mind. This means that problems such as skin blemishes are less of a concern as they can easily be fixed in post production, where as with film this would be a lengthy and expensive process. 

For men, a make up artist is not necessary. Instead I recommend bringing along hair product and lip balm. It's also important that you're well hydrated and that you moisturise your skin ahead of time.

Actor Headshot Photography

 For women, make up comes down to personal choice. If your focus is film then I suggest keeping it quite natural and real. Consider using little to no foundation on your skin while slightly enhancing your eyes and lips. If musical stage is more your thing then you can afford to go stronger. The important thing to keep in mind for actors is that make up for stills photography is much lighting in terms of application than it is for video, film and stage. If you have even skin you may not even need foundation. Small blemishes or spots don't really need to be covered as they can be retouched afterwards.

 Consider using things like freckles to your advantage, as these can be very much a part of your personal appeal. If you are worried about skin blemishes it's better to have them retouched later rather than trying to cover them up with copious amounts of concealer.

Actor headshot photography using studio strobe lighting

Actor headshot photography using studio strobe lighting

Do you give actors advice on what to wear for their headshots?

As a working actor you'll probably want at least two different looks in your repertoire. A commercial look to cover TV commercials and presenting roles (if that's your thing) and a natural look to cover dramas and feature films. Consider bringing clothing along that you think will be appropriate for these roles. If possible avoid wearing white clothing as it tends to blow out and lose details in the picture (a white shirt under a dark jacket is okay). White also has a tendency to dominate the tonality of the picture and make the subject wearing it look larger. Another thing to avoid are shirts with busy designs and logos. You want the person viewing your actor headshots to be drawn to your face not your clothing. It's best to wear a colour that is darker than your skin tone. This will in effect illuminate your face in the headshot. When viewing an image the human eye is naturally drawn towards lighter tones first. 

Actor headshot photography in Sydney using studio strobe

Actor headshot photography in Sydney using studio strobe

If you're concerned that your arms are not as toned or as slim as you would like them to be it may be worth avoiding sleeveless tops and short sleeves. Women should avoid tops with shoe string or spaghetti straps, due to the fact that many actor headshots are typically cropped at the collar bones.

Consider layering your clothing with jackets and scarves. With others accessories like jewellery, it's best to keep things quite minimal. Often a great headshot can be spoiled by the wrong choice of earrings or neck chain. If you're unsure of something, leave it out. In some ways it's better to be a 'blank canvas'.  

Actor Headshot Photography in Sydney using natural light.

Actor Headshot Photography in Sydney using natural light.

Hand Retouching

Many headshot photographers use automated presets which save time but can deliver artificial looking results and loose the subject's individuality. All my retouching is done by hand, which preserves detail as well as the overall integrity of the image.

Actor Portfolio Photography

Actor Portfolio Photography

How can actors organise a shoot with you?

Actors or acting agencies can contact me via email with their preferred shoot dates. Actor Headshots start from $390 while Acting Portfolios will vary depending on the amount of looks we achieve. Payment can be made by cash, on-line bank transfer or credit card.


With each hero shot you select you receive a high resolution digital Jpeg file (8" x 10" size at 300 dpi) which you can make multiple prints from (as many copies as you want). 

Copyright & Licensing

The rates quoted for your actor headshots allow you to use your images to promote you as an actor, artist or entertainer. You are free to print from your 300 dpi files and make multiple copies. Your agent is free to use them for comp cards, the agency website and for press releases. If however you wish to use your headshots for advertising merchandising, product endorsement, point of sale or theatre and film posters, you will need to inform me beforehand to negotiate an appropriate usage rate and file size.

If you're new to working with a professional photographer it may come as a surprise to learn that, even though you have paid for a photography session, the intellectual rights to the images remain with the photographer. It's much the same as purchasing a book or a DVD. You may own the physical copy and be free to read or play it as much as you want at home, but the author or the film production company owns the rights to the material. This is standard practice around the world. 

A photographer may on occasion use images as samples of their work and display them in a portfolio context either on-line or in print. Your images however cannot be sold on to third parties or used for advertising products without your consent. You also have the option of buying the images outright.

Photography and text copyright © Kiren Photography 2019