Black and White vs Colour for Actors Headshots?

The majority of my headshot clients and, more specifically, their agents want colour these days and that’s been the case for nearly two years now. When an actor moves agent or wants to refresh their image on but has only recently had a session I’ll often get a request for a colour version of a headshot they’ve previously ordered in black and white.


When I recently worked with James McKenzie Robinson his agent (at Narrow Road) asked for all the images in black and white and this surprised me at first. I usually recommend clients get one shot in black and white for the Spotlight book (you can give them a colour version which they’ll convert but simply clicking a B&W conversion button on a colour photo in Photoshop will always give poor results compared to an image specifically developed for B&W) but it’s been a long time since a whole set has been ordered in monochrome.


But as I worked on the images, I must admit I got a bit nostalgic for the more traditional look.





The way contrast can be pushed in this format adds a real punch to the image and I love the way that picks out the detail in James’ coat which contrasts texturally with his face.


But I knew I’d also want a colour version of the image for my gallery.



There’s no doubt about it, colour is certainly more revealing and, I feel, gives a truer sense of the subject. But which do I prefer? I think I could stare at them both for hours and still not reach a decision. I can’t see black and white headshots becoming the norm again but it certainly adds (or takes away!) something to the image you can’t get with colour. Often people will say that B&W feels somehow ‘classier’ but I’m sure this is just because they think of it being timeless. On the other hand, with digital retouching, it’s very easy to go too far with colour processing and ruin an image by making it look like it’s had a retro film Instagram-style filter smothered all over it.


Which do you prefer? Have you had a headshot session recently and wished you’d opted for a different development process, or have you had an otherwise great headshot ruined by heavy-handed colour processing?


Posted in Colour headshots, Headshot photography, Studio headshots, The Spotlight, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Headshot Session with Anna Hogarth

I first met Anna a couple of years ago when I was doing unit stills on a short film called Good Night in which she took the lead. The film, also starring Rosie Day (who was in recent horror film The Seasoning House and can be seen elsewhere in the Portfolio section of this site) is the story of two young girls out for the night with one thing on their mind. It’s a great film which, in the hands of director Muriel d’Ansemborg, deals with it’s dark subject matter beautifully. That, and the fantastic central performances from both Anna and Rosie, is probably why it got a nod from Bafta earlier this year, just losing out to Lynn Ramsey’s The Swimmer, for best short.



Good Night was shot while Anna was still at school and now, A Levels behind her, she’s taking time out from education to see where acting takes her. And she’s got off to a pretty good start, appearing in the Noah and the Whale film There Will Come a Time and being picked up by 42, the relatively new agency formed by some of Independent Talent Group’s top agents where she is looked after by George Monkland.


Just a couple of B&Ws here but there’s a colour headshot of Anna from our session in the Portfolio section and she’s currently gracing my home page, too. A young actor with talent, and charm, to spare, I reckon any thoughts of further education might have to wait a while.


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Alexis Han-Holdren, actors headshots in black and white and colour

Alexis is an American actress currently studying in London. Colour has been the default setting for headshots in the States for a while now that was definitely her priority.



This shot was also a great one to eschew the standard 10×8 crop and stick with the dimensions of a full frame image. The neckline gives the eye a direct path up to the face and, while low-cut, is kept classy by the material and Alexis’ natural poise.

Despite Alexis’ preference for colour headshots I also think her colouring worked brilliantly against the stark, white background in B&W:




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Kelly Hotten, Colour Actors Headshots

Here’s quick couple of photos from my recent headshot session with Kelly Hotten. Kelly first came to me for her headshots a few years ago and it was great working with her again.

Kelly Hotten, colour headshot, #1


She has a great knack for treating the lens like an old friend and really opens up to it which, I think, is the key to a great headshot. She can also show the camera a range of attitudes without pulling expressions, which always looks unnatural and forced.



I rarely come to point in a shoot where I say “now, let’s do some big smiley ones!” as to me, it’s much more subtle to get a smile in the eyes rather than right across the face. When it happens naturally and spontaneously however, it’s great and usually makes a great portfolio shot for Spotlight.


Kelly Hotten, colour headshot #3


Kelly recently appeared in A Dolls House at Manchester’s Royal Exchange and is looked after by Roxane Vacca.


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Christopher Stein, Black and White and Colour Headshots

Here is a selection of images from my recent headshot session with Christopher Stein.

Christopher is an actor originally from Cape Town – a great city I’ve worked in a couple of times. Since hitting London he’s found representation with Julie Edmett at Joy Jameson.

Julie wanted a mixture of black and white and colour headshots for Chris. It’s the first time I’d worked in B&W for a while but I must admit I still love the look.

For the B&W set I think the high-key (white) background works particularly well with Chris’ dark features as contrast is one of the most appealing things about black and white headshots.

Posted in American headshots, Casting Call Pro, Colour headshots, Headshot photography, Studio headshots, The Spotlight Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Colour Headshots & Portraits with Sydney Rae White, London

I recently had the pleasure of working with Sydney Rae White who you may recognise from Misfits, Young Dracula and Starlings. She came to me via a recommendation from Rob Kendrick who I worked with last year. As well as acting, Sydney is also in a band who are doing great things and this dual career influences Sydney’s look which is clearly very castable but also incredibly individual. It’s a fine line that she treads very well.


Despite having white hair I also wanted to photograph Sydney against a blown-out white background. I felt it would suit her look but also because she brought along this fantastic black jacket with a great collar that not only frames her face very interestingly but which I knew would contrast very well with the white. Using a rim light helped to keep her hair separated from the background.


As well as headshots I really wanted to do some editorial style portraits with Sydney as she is exactly at the point in her career when things are really starting to happen and I think it’s quite likely magazines will start paying her attention. This can be a tricky time because if a magazine wants to write a piece on you but you don’t have good artwork to illustrate it, they may have to rely on a headshot which, no matter how good it is, will always look like a headshot. Also, unless the piece is a big feature going over several pages, they probably won’t have a budget to commission a shoot themselves. So if you’ve got some good artwork in your portfolio you’re one step ahead and more likely to get some great exposure. These next two shots were taken out the back of my studio and would make great images to accompany any editorial on Sydney.



The winter light on the day was fantastic for this kind of work – really low in the sky and therefore straight in Sydney’s face (and, unfortunately for her, her eyes!). This kind of light is no good for more traditional headshots and it can be too intense but works very well here. These kind of photos are a great opportunity for actors to show something of themselves in a way that the standard headshot just does not permit and Sydney really got that.



Sydney Rae White is represented by Ruth Young at United Agents.



Posted in Body shots, Casting Call Pro, Colour headshots, Full length shots, Headshot photography, Natural light headshots, Studio headshots, The Spotlight Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Eben Figueiredo’s Acting Headshots

Here are a couple of shots from my recent session with Eben Figueiredo. Eben is at the very beginning of his career but seems to have a bright one ahead of him. He’s still at 6th firm college where a talk to his year by a visiting actor led to him being taken on by Ken McReddie Associates – a great agency to find yourself at at any point in your career!


When taking their headshots I always try to get actors to treat the camera like another actor in a scene so working with someone of Eben’s experience can be tricky as they haven’t necessarily worked much. As you can see from these shots though, Eben had no trouble giving the lens his full focus and engaging with it.


He’s got such a castable ‘look’ and with the obvious chops for the job, I’m sure this is just the first of many headshot sessions Eben will be shooting over what, I reckon, will be a long career.


Posted in American headshots, Casting Call Pro, Colour headshots, Headshot photography, Studio headshots, The Spotlight, Uncategorized

New Studio and Special Rate on Actors Headshots

On Monday 6th August I’ll be moving in to a new studio. It’s in a great central London location (just a 12-15 minute walk from London Bridge) and while it’s not as big as the one I’ve recently been using in Camberwell (which was massive!) it is a lot easier to get to and much more versatile.

With great, north-facing views over the City, including the Shard and the Gherkin, the studio is flooded with indirect natural light which is perfect for headshot photography. The building itself also offers some great locations with a real ‘urban’ and ‘industrial’ feel for outdoor shots.

I’m so excited to start working in the new space that I’ve set aside five days, Monday 13th – Friday 17th August, to offer a 50% reduction on my usual full-price headshot session rate of £220. That means all actors, new and returning clients, students and graduates, can get my normal headshot session service for just £110. As usual, all sessions include:

- 2-3 hour shoot

- headshots in B&W and colour

- natural and studio light

- different hair and clothing ‘looks’, backgrounds and light set-ups

- approximately 130 edited shots

- 4 retouched hi-res files

So if you, or anyone you know, needs new headshots (the  Male Actors and Graduates Spotlight deadline is just around the corner) then just get in touch and book a session before 17th August.

For full details on my actors headshot sessions, take a look in the The Session area of this site.






Posted in American headshots, Body shots, Colour headshots, Full length shots, Headshot photography, Natural light headshots, Studio headshots, The Spotlight Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Nicola Harrison

Well, it’s been a busy past month or so, what with the women’s Spotlight deadline falling today (though, as ever, if anyone is a bit late updating their headshots I’m sure they’ll extend it for another 2-4 weeks yet), plus I’ve been doing a lot of work for Warner Bros. in the lead-up to the opening of the Harry Potter Tour which was great fun (even if, like me, you’ve only ever seen half of one of the films!). So the blogging actor’s headshot sessions has taken a bit of a back seat but now I’m all back to it.

Nicola is another previous client of mine from way-back when I was still shooting film and just dabbling with digital for my headshot photography. She’s recently been playing D.I. Fletcher (a recurring copper) in Emmerdale, as well as quite a bit of other filming including Misfits and Black Mirror – Going Dark. A re-vamped headshot portfolio can be a great way to capitolise on a flurry of recent work.

Although perhaps a little wider than most headshots the image above still holds really well. The balancing of the splashed light on either side helps but also also Nicola’s look and stance is so strong.



It’s amazing sometimes how different a person can look with their hair up. Down, Nicola’s hair frames her face really nicely and it isn’t so long that it crops funny when made 10×8 dimensions but I still wanted to see more of her face in some shots, so up it went. Being able to see more of the face, neck and even shoulders can really lift a shot.


This headshot is, I think, really engaging. Again, it’s cropped a little wider than some of mine but in this case I think it just gives us more visual information that a casting director can use. And just seeing a hint of the back of chair places the you in same room as Nicola which helps create a sense of intimacy between viewer and subject.

As soon as I saw the coat Nicola arrived I thought “we’ve got to do a couple in that”. The texture and detail in the collar come out great and the shape it makes as it’s tied brings the silhouette in nicely. We just shot a few frames like this at the end of the session as I think they make good portfolio shots.

Nicola is represented by Curtis Brown.


Posted in Body shots, Casting Call Pro, Colour headshots, Full length shots, Headshot photography, Studio headshots, The Spotlight, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Ursula Early – London Headshots

Ursula is a previous actors headshots client of mine and it’s always great when people return for another shoot. Like a lot of people these days, Ursula wanted some colour headshots as well as black and white.

When an actor wants colour headshots, choice of clothing becomes very important. Obviously, with black and white headshots, coloured clothing is always rendered in shades of grey. But in colour headshots, clothing can be very distracting – especially red as it really pulls the eye’s focus. The colour of Ursula’s jumper in the headshot above however is great as it’s very soft and brings out the colour in her eyes nicely.

Working in the new studio means I can get much more distance between Ursula and the background which means I can light them completely separately. In my home studio the background lights (which blow the background into total white) would have spilled back onto Ursula and the contrast in the black and white headshot above would have been lost. A headshot like this is all about contrast (and Ursula’s fantastic engagement with the lens, of course!) and really makes her stand out. The ‘V’ created by her jumper also leads the eyes nicely up to her face.

The final photo above is from a sequence of shots we took at the end of the headshot session. This is a great ‘portfolio’ image because, while it wouldn’t be used as Ursula’s main casting headshot, her character and personality really shine through and this can be very useful for a casting director to see. If her agent or publicist ever needed artwork of Ursula for other purposes, say a magazine article, this photo would be perfect.

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