Applying for Reality Shows: Your Headshot Guide




Close up of Attractive Female who wants to be on a reality show

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Headshots can make or break your chances in the entertainment industry, be it for acting roles or reality show auditions. Like business cards in the corporate world, headshots represent who you are. Let’s dive into why they’re essential and how to get the right one for your reality show application.


Why are headshots crucial for Reality Shows?

Your headshot is the visual representation of your brand. When you apply for reality shows, it’s the first impression casting directors get. It’s not just about your appearance, but it gives a glimpse into your personality, essence, and character. Casting directors often have a sea of applicants; your headshot should make you stand out and be memorable.

If you submit a low quality headshot or one that just feels dull, you will often get passed over before the casting director even reads the rest of your profile. You need to stand out just to get a second look to show that you are worth the extra time to dig into your details.

What is a headshot for Reality Shows?

A headshot is a close-up photo, usually from the shoulders up, capturing your face and expression. While traditionally printed as an 8 x 10-inch photograph, in today’s digital age, you’ll also need a high-resolution digital version for online applications.

Headshot Tips

  • Do:
    • Find a professional photographer who understands your needs.
    • Wear a bit of makeup or just powder to look polished.
    • Opt for solid colors rather than paterns.
    • Stay true to your personal brand and the roles you aim for.
  • Don’t:
    • Use casual photos like selfies or old school pictures.
    • Overdo the makeup to the point of unrecognizability.
    • Wear clothes that will pull attention from you
    • Overly airbrush or edit to where it no longer looks like you.

Choosing a Headshot Photographer

Always seek referrals. A good photographer captures not just an image but the essence and expressions that make you unique. Don’t cut corners by opting for a friend with a camera. Schedule a consultation, ask for their portfolio, understand their rates, and ensure your visions align.

One tip is to look for photographers in your area that do cosplay photography. They are often have a lot of experience taking pictures focused on people rather than landscapes or products. They will also know how to light you and frame the photo so that your best features standout.

A good photographer can be the difference between your image leaping off the screen or just being something that gets scrolled by.

Headshot Costs

Expect to pay between $500–$2,000 for professional headshot sessions, though prices vary based on the photographer’s reputation, location, and package offerings. While you don’t want to skimp, see it as a career investment.

Remember the quoted price is often only for the session. There may be additional charges if you’d like them to professionally edit or retouch your photographs. You want to make sure you understand the prices up front and what is and is not included.

Don’t worry if you can’t afford the $500 as there may be some people who are just building out their portfolio. If you’re willing to take a chance, you can get someone for a couple hundred dollars. You need to understand you are likely sacraficing quality especially when it comes to editing.

If you do go with a budget friendly photographer, you could reach out to Fiverr or Upwork for some editing. Both of these sites will have talented people who are willing to work for far cheaper than your local photographer.

Preparing for Your Headshot Session

Dress simply and avoid distracting patterns or jewelry. Choose colors that complement your complexion and align with the image you want to project. The background should be neutral, and your pose should be relaxed yet confident. Always bring multiple outfits for varied looks.

You may want to consult some style books or apps to determine what season you are. This can help you choose colors that work best. I am a winter and here’s a link to the list of colors that I would wear.

Updating Your Headshots

Regularly update your headshots, especially if you’ve undergone significant appearance changes, like a new hairstyle. For adults, consider refreshing your headshots every one to two years to stay current. The last thing you want is for the casting director to think you look a certain way in your image and then show up looking completely different whether that’s a different hairstyle, color or a radically different weight.

When applying for reality shows, your headshot is a ticket to the first round. It might not guarantee your place in the show, but it ensures that you won’t be overlooked. So, invest time, effort, and a bit of money to make it right.

Another key consideration is changing if you aren’t getting callbacks. If you submit your headshot to 20 shows, you don’t get a single callback it may be time to look at your headshot to see if you need a different one.

Obviously, this will depend on how selective the show is. It’s very unlikely that you’ll ever hear back from an application to survivor or big brother, however, my suggestion is to apply for some less selective shows.

I’ve had some production teams reach out to me because they just needed more applicants. In these cases, they may be contacting over 50% of the people who send in a video or headshot. If you are applying for these type of shows without hearing back, it’s likely time to revist your headshow, video or overall application.


So that’s our guide to getting the perfect headshot for your reality show application. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with our other readers? Also, click here for some redflags and scams that we’ve heard about from people who went to get their headshots.

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One response to “Applying for Reality Shows: Your Headshot Guide”

  1. […] love to hear from you so that we can share your experience and advice to our other readers. Also, if you’d like to learn more about what to look for when booking your reality show casting headsho… we’ve created a full guide on […]

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