Portfolios for Entertainment/Actors/Musicians

There are many types of images that are appropriate for entertainers, actors, musicians, etc. Much of what is needed depends on how you plan on using the image. Here are some shots that should be included in your portfolio that reflect your look, personality, and who you are as an artist.

Actors (both male and female)

Of course, you need to have a headshot – depending on the role, you’ll want different looks; if you’re mostly focused on “lighter” roles, then a more evenly lit (eg., few shadows) shot of you smiling, laughing, etc. with a lighter or colored background is a great start. It’s good to have various poses, expressions, etc. that you can choose from to make up your portfolio.

If you’re going for a more dramatic role, then the lighting should be more contrasty/moody, and with a darker background. Again, different expressions/looks, but ones that have a more serious or neutral expression would be appropriate. Choose clothing in both cases that reinforce the mood/look that you’re going for. And of course be sure to have your hair and makeup (if applicable) done professionally.

It’s also great to have some live shots of you onstage or on set, in costume capturing expressions or specific dramatic points in a scene where you’re demonstrating emotion. This should be done with stage lighting if possible, as it should emphasize the mood of the scene.


If you’re a singer, you’ll also likely want various looks, depending on how you want to use your photos and what type of music/genre you typically sing. For example, the look for a choral, classical, opera singer will be very different than for a folk singer, which will be different from someone who is looking for a lead singing role in a rock band.

Similarly with musicians, if you’re play classical fiddle you’re images will look very different than a fiddler for country music.

You’ll always want images with your instrument and without – some playing the instrument and some with it by your side or simply holding it.

If you’re a stand up comic, headshots and some shots of you live on stage also give you a variety of images to choose from. If you have any trademark expressions, gestures, looks, you’ll want to insure those are captured as well.

Work with your photographer to develop a game plan, starting with your ideas for the portfolio, and who your target audiences are. Then, plan the details, including clothing, lighting, looks, etc. to get the most out of each photo session and make the best use of your and his/her time.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and go off script – sometimes the best shots are the ones you haven’t planned for!

Barry Braunstein