7 Facts About Choosing a Headshot Photographer
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7 Crucial Need to Know Facts

Ask Yourself…

Choosing the right Headshot Photographer can be challenging!  There are some crucial things that you should take into account when making your decision, so you don’t end up pouring your hard earned money down the drain.

Take a look.

  1. Does the Photographer Specialize in Headshot Photography?
    Like in any other professional or artistic arena, an area of specialty is essential.  In a market as saturated as New York City, hiring a wedding, portrait photographer or your friend with a new DSLR is a sure way to scream “amature.”  If you want to be taken seriously, invest in someone who is an expert in their field.  Also be aware that actor headshots and corporate headshots are two very different things.  If a Photographer professes to specialize in both, question whether the work is about quality over quantity.  If that work bleeds into each other, you end up with a colorful shot with no soul.  Do your research carefully.
  2. Does the Photographer take the Same Shot of Every Client?
    There is nothing worse than someone identifying your photographer before identifying you!  Your headshot is about YOU, not the photographer.  If they are running a Factory, it will show. Make sure their portfolio has some variety.   It will tell you if they know how to listen to their client’s individual needs and whether or not they have the skill or creativity to deliver that.  If every shot has the same composition, the same angle, and the same lighting,or background, you might as well save your money and go to Sears.
  3. Does the Photographer Value their own Work?
    Be wary of cheap.  Price doesn’t always ensure quality, but more often than not, like a pair of amazing jeans, you get what you pay for.  Cheap shots will often leave you frustrated. Making the investment in a quality Headshot Photographer, means making the investment in yourself and your career.  Don’t cheap out on your career.  A Photographer who doesn’t value their own work enough to charge a respectable rate, is not someone who I would trust with my career.  You want to be taken seriously by the industry, so the quality of your headshot must project professionalism. Follow your instinct over cost, because bad headshots won’t save you money in the long run, if you have to have them reshot, afterall.  New headshots should not be necessary until your look, or the market trend changes.
  4. Does the Photographer know what will work for you as an individual?
    Having a Photographer that can direct you with body position and angles is key.  Directing expression can be helpful too, but it can also be a trap.  When reviewing a Photographer’s portfolio make sure to review the client’s expressions.  Are they all exactly the same, or variations on a theme?  A good way of doing this is to ask yourself about each person in the shot.  Who are they?  What are they feeling?  What are they making YOU feel?  If the answer to that is, “I don’t know,” then there is a problem.  Most likely, the Photographer is not taking the time to personally invest in each person as an individual.  You need someone who listens,  because, a great headshot is about what you have to say.
  5. Does the Photographer know what the current headshot trends are?
    Just like fashion and global warming, temperatures change.  Ten years ago, the industry standard was black and white on film.  It then moved to color, then eventually to digital where anything is possible.  Because of that, and our ever growing lack of attention span, trends are changing much more rapidly. It is important to have a Photographer who is keeping up.  Your headshot is a representation of you, and it needs to tell people that you are relevant.  When looking through portfolios, be wary of Photographers whose work is out of date.  If there are old black and white images, or overly lit studio shots, they may be stuck in a time warp.
  6. Does the Photographer have a portfolio that is not overly retouched?Let’s be honest, we all need a little retouching.  And like a well made martini, too much of a good thing can lead to a bad thing.  With the ease of a couple of clicks, we can turn back time, take off a few pounds or make our skin as clear as a fourteen year old Brook Shields.  As alluring as this is, it is a huge mistake in the world of Headshots.  Especially in New York. Your shots need to look as realistic as possible, while still being as flattering as possible.  Easy, right?  It is a fine line, so when looking through a Photographer’s portfolio, make sure that the actor’s aren’t perfect.  If they are, it tells you the only thing you need to know:  they aren’t being honest about their work.  On the other hand, everyone does need some retouching.  So if they have slapped their work up without a second glance, they have not invested time or effort into their work.  Move on.
  7. Does the Photographer tell you everything upfront?
    As fun and fulfilling as spending time with actors and getting to capture their essence is, we must get down to brass tacks.  It is a business, after all.  Unfortunately, there are Photographers out there, especially in a city as big as New York, that will pull a bait and switch on you.  Be extremely cautious of hidden costs.  If a Photographer promises “included” services, such as retouched images, make sure to go over details of the service you are paying for.  Charging for “additional” or “advanced” retouching, charging a fee to release images, or anything else that is an extra charge on top of the package you have payed for is unacceptable.  Also make sure that they are available.  Returning phone calls or emails within 24 hours is a must.  Photographers who conduct business when it is convenient to them is also unacceptable.  Take your time to find someone who is as invested in the process as you are.

These are also helpful:

Read this article on backstage.com with some more useful tips of the trade.

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