Looking for a headshot photographer can feel like a daunting task. There are a lot of us out there to choose from and we can all be very different. How do you know that you’re going to get great headshots at a good price that work for you? Let’s break it down into steps to help make that decision a little easier.
Are They Actually A Headshot Photographer?
A lot of photographers are very capable at turning their hand to a wide range of briefs from food photography to weddings and events, especially in the early stages of their career. But with specialism comes experience and knowledge, which means that a photographer dedicated to headshots and portraits is more likely to understand all the little details that will get you a better result. Take the time to check a photographer’s portfolio online to see if they specialise in headshot and portrait work.
Focus On The Photography
Headshot photographers come from very different backgrounds – from acting to IT – and we all have a story to tell. Some have literally decades of experience shooting headshots, some just a few years. But what matters most of all is their portfolio. Headshot photography is a niche, and within that different photographers can have very different styles. Do you like the look of the work? Does it match your character and casting? Will it stand the test of time? Are you looking for someone who can work across a range of styles and create lots of options, or someone with a signature look and feel to their work that is perfect for you? Portfolio comes first every time.
Packages and Prices
Price is such a big consideration, now more than ever. And it’s not always a 100% reliable indicator of quality. If your headshots don’t work for you it doesn’t matter if they were really cheap or really expensive – they’ll be really bad value for money. To get the best value, start with a range of headshot photographers that will work for you stylistically first, then narrow them down to the right price.
Now that you’ve found some specialist headshot photographers with portfolios that you think will work for you it’s time to look at what they offer. These can vary considerably but essentially, you’ll be paying for two things. The headshot session itself when the photos are taken, and then the edits. You can pay for a session with a fixed number of edits included, but you may need to pay for additional edits if you need more headshots for your Spotlight profile or portfolio. Session without any edits included can be a more affordable option as this reduces the session price and you’re free to buy as many or as few edits after the session as you choose. If you know how many headshots you need by looking at these two variables, session price and editing price, you can work out the likely total cost of your shoot to suit your budget.
If you’re student, take a look to see if anyone on your shortlist offers a student discount.
The Longer Term Picture
It’s worth looking at some of the detail now. Do they have a studio or is everything shot outdoors? Does the studio location work for you? Do they have a booking and project management system in place like Photo Workflow? If you’ve emailed or sent a DM are they friendly, helpful and responsive? After your session, how long will you have to make your selection for editing? Are the contact sheets – a page where you can view all your headshots – time limited in anyway? Will your contact sheets still be available in a year or two if you need to buy additional edits later on? Headshots are an investment in your career, so make sure that investment is a long term one and that your headshots will be available as long as you need them.
You’ve found a specialist headshot photographer with the perfect style for you and the price is right. This final consideration can also very often be the very first – do they come recommended? After all, searching for a headshot photographer on Google Search or through an Instagram hashtag will provide you with lots of options, but there will be many more you may not see who are amazing photographers but not great at optimising their websites for search.
Recommendation and reputation is a great way of discovering and knowing how good a headshot photographer is – and it’s one of the main ways we find new clients. A recommendation doesn’t always mean the right fit for you of course. If you find a headshot photographer that looks like perfect for you that hasn’t been recommended, be sure to check out their website to see if there are any references and their Instagram to get a feel for what clients are saying about their work.
Plan Your Next Shoot At The Same Time
It’s great for your career development and portfolio to work with different photographers and we all bring something different to the table. So if you’re going to the time and trouble of sourcing a headshot photographer, look for two or three. That way you’ll have other options if your first choice is unavailable and a ready-made short list of photographers you’d like to work with in the future.
Hopefully these six steps provide a simple framework that will guide you to the right headshot photographers for you and help you to get the best value for your money. We’re a friendly bunch and very used to working with people every day, so you can always reach out and ask a question or two if it will help you with that final decision.