Commercial vs. Theatrical Headshots


Three headshots, same girl. One is  Commercial, one is for Commercial Print, and the final one is Theatrical.  But what does that even mean??

Headshots can be nerve-wracking for some people, especially for those who are new in the acting world and are getting shots for the first time.  Here at the Alan Weissman studio, we try to make your experience as easy and as enjoyable as possible because we know how important these images are for you.  If you’re having fun and are relaxed, your images will reflect that.

After talking to some of our clients, old and new, we thought it might be great to post some info/advice on the difference between a Commercial and Theatrical headshot.  Aspiring actors, when first getting their feet wet in the acting realm, get these two different types of shots.  What’s the difference?


What it’s for: Commercials & Sitcoms.

In these types of shots, your goal is to look approachable and smile! Not the cheesy, get-the-camera-out-of-my-face kind of smile, but the kind that looks like your everyday girl/boy next door.  Think about the people you see in commercials and on shows like Modern Family.  They look like people you’d see everyday.  They are the people who brush their teeth with Colgate, like you.  They drive the affordable and reliable car that you’ve been looking for.  That’s who you want to look like.

Commercial Print shots are similar to the traditional Commercial headshot, but you may see more of the body in a lifestyle setting.  In the traditional Commercial or Theatrical headshot, you would not necessarily  see hands or jewelry, but the guideline are a little more flexible when it comes to Commercial Print images.

For these shots, you want to wear soft or bright colors that reflect a commercial look.  For example, think of the Gap or J. Crew ads.  Avoid prints and patterns because ultimately, the focus should be on you and not the distracting print.


What it’s for: Plays, TV, Film

Some might use the word “serious” to describe the Theatrical shot, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. The goal is to still be approachable, without smiling.

Another option for the Theatrical look, which is one of Alan’s favorites, is to have some fun and go for an edgier look, which can be sexy, dramatic, or both!  It’s not your traditional headshot, but serves as a third look.  One of Alan’s favorite things to do is to make you look like a working actor by lighting you differently than he would if it were a Commercial or Theatrical shot.

Ultimately, these shots are all about conveying your personality and your essence through your expressions.  These images have to be real and honest, a goal that we help you reach.

Contact us for more information!  We would love to help you with your first or next headshot session!