Overall, we are looking for an open expression displaying warmth. The shot should look like you on a good day. What we want the picture to say is 1.) I am someone you could trust. 2.) I am magnetic and attractive. 3.) I am someone you need to know. Beyond that, what we are trying to do is portray something about your general nature, while leaving a certain amount of openness to the possibilities. We want casting agents to look at your picture and see you as capable of playing a wide range of roles.
If that sounds like a lot it really isn’t. The main thing is confidence. If you feel good in your own skin, the rest will be there. This is why I take the time to meet for coffee (usually an hour or so for coffee is good), and why we take our time when we shoot. It gives you the chance to really be your best self. Plus, when you see how funny looking I am, you feel so confident that you immediately look like a sex symbol – even if you are 90 years old and have no teeth!
Casting directors won’t spend a lot of time on your photograph, but they will stop when they see something genuine. Sometimes the most “attractive” picture in a shoot isn’t the one to go with (though sometimes it is). You want the picture that has good energy and something that makes them want to know you, and to know more about you. Are the eyes engaged, or just sort of staring into the camera? Does the person in your picture make people want to be around you? Do the eyes tell a story?
There are also aesthetic considerations, but that part is my job. I am a student of the human face and find ways to control the light and camera angle that flatters you the most. All you have to do is feel good and I take care of the rest.