The primary purpose of the head shot is to pictorially represent a model, an actor, or an actress. The shot is used as a remembrance, like a business card; but with these professionals, their commodity is their looks. Since the actor is selling appearance and personality, the head shot should be flattering arid straightforward. Open, flat lighting-to avoid shadows-and a pleasant expression are essential ingredients. A light background, to aid the upbeat tone of the shot, is usually the case.
When shooting New York actor headshots I like to use a moderate telephoto (portrait lens) of between 85mm and 135mm with the 35mm format and between 120mm and 250mm with a 21/4" square format. The lenses in these focal lengths tend to flatten the face and de-emphasize the nose, thus helping to flatter the actor.
Open, flat lighting is achieved by using two umbrella lights, or soft boxes pointed at the model from either side of the lens. One or two lights are used to illuminate the background, and occasionally a hair light is used to lighten the hair. The hair light is a spotlight that is pointed or shot at the actor's head from above and slightly behind. Fill-in reflectors are used on either side of the actor and under the chin to further eliminate unwanted shadows. Actor headshots in New york can be displayed to have more creativity than in most other cities.