Getting Great Headshots: A Guide to Choosing the Right Headshot Photographer
In the age of digital media and personal branding, a high-quality headshot is a must-have. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, actor, model, or just looking to spruce up your LinkedIn profile, a professional headshot can make all the difference. But finding the right headshot photographer for headshots is key. With so many options to choose from, how do you select a pro who will capture shots that authentically reflect you in the best possible light? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find the ideal headshot photographer, prepare for your session, and end up with stellar results.
Defining Your Headshot Needs
Your first step is deciding why you need headshots and how they’ll be used. This will shape the photographer attributes you should prioritize.
- What specific purposes do you need headshots for? Do you need different styles (business, casual, character)?
- Where will the headshots appear? Website, resume, online media profiles, billboards?
- Do you need to submit printed or digital copies? In color, black & white, or both?
- What image dimensions and resolution do you require? Do you need vertical, horizontal, or square cropped photos?
- How many different outfit changes and poses will you need? How many retouched final images?
Once you’ve defined your needs, you’ll know what to look for in a photographer’s skills, portfolio, equipment, editing capabilities, and more.
Researching Photographer Options
Next, start your search for professional headshot photographers in your area. Here are some places to look:
- Online reviews – Search Google, Yelp, etc. for local photographers with glowing headshot reviews and established businesses. Watch for red flags like no online presence or too-good-to-be-true prices.
- Referrals – Ask business colleagues, actors, models, and others who have great headshots where they had them done. Referrals are often a trustworthy source.
- Creative networks – Check LinkedIn groups, Model Mayhem, university art programs, and sites like Thumbtack to find talented creatives looking to build their portfolio.
- Photography associations – Organizations like American Society of Media Photographers have search tools for qualified pro photographers.
- Photo contest winners – Many sites showcase their photo contest winners. The consistent winners likely have serious skills!
Look through numerous photographer websites and portfolios before compiling a shortlist of top contenders. Make sure they have ample samples of professional headshots similar to your needs.
Choosing Your Photographer
Once you’ve identified several promising headshot photographers, reach out to inquire about pricing and availability. Be upfront about your budget needs.
When evaluating options, look for these key indicators of an ideal headshot pro:
- Strong portfolio – Consistently delivers properly exposed, crisp, flattering headshots.
- Experience – Has shot many headshot sessions, along with a diverse breadth of photography projects.
- Personality fit – Positive attitude and makes clients feel comfortable in front of the camera.
- Style – Demonstrates technical skills along with creative vision and artistry.
- Gear – Owns suitable cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, editing software, and printers.
- Pricing – Offers competitively priced packages for the level of service. Discounts or smaller à la carte options can be cost-effective.
- Location – Has a studio available, or is willing to travel to a location of your choosing.
- Reviews – Past clients report great experiences, ease of booking, and being pleased with results.
- Availability – Has upcoming appointment times that work with your schedule.
Take time to communicate with potential photographers to gauge if they meet your criteria, click with your personality, and understand exactly what you need. Then reserve your perfect match!
Preparing for a Successful Session
You found your headshot photographer – congratulations! Now it’s time to prep for a flawless session. Here are some tips:
- Discuss attire and styling – Ask your photographer for suggestions on what to wear. Generally modest, simple outfits in solid neutrals photograph best.
- Give your skin extra TLC – Use masks, serums, and drink lots of water in the days before. Get a facial if needed.
- Groom facial hair – Ensure beards, mustaches, and eyebrows are neatly trimmed and shaped.
- Style your hair – Schedule a hair trim and style refresh a few days prior. Use anti-frizz products.
- Limit alcohol before your session – Drinking can lead to puffiness, breakouts, and redness the day of.
- Get plenty of sleep – Dark circles and bags under your eyes never photograph well!
- Wear minimal makeup – Use neutral tones, fill in brows, curl lashes, and apply tinted balm or gloss. Avoid glitter.
- Bring makeup for touch ups – Pack powder, lipstick, and anything else you may need to freshen up during outfit changes.
Following these tips will have you session-ready for photos that radiate confidence and capture a polished, but authentic version of your personal brand. Don’t forget to relax and have fun!
Rocking Your Session for Standout Shots
You’re prepped, pumped, and ready to rock – time to ace your headshot session! Follow these tips for outstanding photos every time:
- Arrive early – Leave buffer time for parking, finding the location, and getting settled in.
- Dress professionally – Wear deodorant, tidy clothes, and polished shoes. Remove outerwear like coats when shooting.
- Have simple jewelry/accessories ready – Pieces that won’t distract work best.
- Warm up with the photographer – Chat to establish rapport. Loosen up and be your natural self.
- Follow the photographer’s posing guidance – Trust their expertise, but speak up if a pose doesn’t feel right.
- Relax your hands, shoulders & face – No clenched hands, hunched shoulders, or creepy fake smiles.
- Make small adjustments as suggested – Chin up a bit, soften your eyes, turn slightly, etc.
- Connect with the camera – Imagine connecting with someone you admire. The camera loves confidence and authentic expressions.
- Take breaks as needed – Step away to rest your eyes, stretch, or re-powder shiny spots.
You should feel empowered to provide input if you need any type of direction adjustment. But also recognize most photographers aim to capture the real you – not a heavily posed, unnatural version.
Review Your Photos & Order Your Favorites
Don’t forget to review your headshots during or right after your session. Zoom in and check focus, lighting, expressions, and posing. Request any additional shots or retakes if needed.
Once you receive the final retouched photos, review them closely to make sure they accurately reflect your brand. Select well-lit, properly cropped images where you look confident and approachable.
After choosing your top picks, ask for print and digital formats suitable for your needs. Get usage rights in writing so you can maximize your investment in the photos.
With the right headshot photographer matched to your needs, proper preparation, and a focus on authenticity, you’re sure to end up with business headshots that make the perfect first impression online or in print. Use these tips to enjoy a smooth process and wind up with eye-catching, brand-elevating results you’ll use proudly for years to come.