CHOOSING A HEADSHOT PHOTOGRAPHER

Deciding whom to trust with your headshot is not just a significant decision, but a professional one too. If you’re an actor, your headshot is going to be the way you introduce yourself to the decision-making infrastructure of the entertainment industry. Likewise, for other professionals, it’s an important form of introduction in the business world.

Investing in the services of a professional photographer is part of building a serious—and ultimately successful—promotional campaign. You just happen to be the subject of that campaign.

HOW TO CHOOSE A PROFESSIONAL TO WORK WITH?

Start with their look. Just as a headshot is meant to pique interest in an actor (or other professional), a photographer’s portfolio is meant to give you a quick idea of what they can offer. Look for a portfolio that shows variety—meaning an ability to use a range of shooting angles, looks, and backgrounds—that make every headshot unique. A good headshot does not have that assembly line look of a high school yearbook portrait.

But, good headshots do have to cover the bases—meaning high-quality lighting that illuminates subjects’ faces evenly and doesn’t leave any significant shadowing. Backgrounds should look “good” (but not because they’re more interesting than the head in the headshot).

And people should appear natural and comfortable in their headshots. Looking stiff or aggrieved is not a good look. What a real headshot photographer does is help create an image that radiates confidence, range, and accessibility (in the sense that it is easy to see the person pictured appealing to a broad audience).

It’s also important to not just glance through a few images on a photographer’s webpage. Take some time to gauge which are the best images in their portfolio and which don’t appeal to you quite as much. Then imagine how the photographer’s strengths align with your own—and the same for limitations. You want to hire someone who’s going to accentuate your positive traits while keeping any weak areas less apparent.

While doing this, also note if a photo you don’t find appealing is still of high technical quality. A solid professional photographer will always have the technical areas—lighting especially—covered.

Once your interest has been piqued, get in touch directly and see if it’s likely that you’ll build a rapport. It’s going to be very hard to look relaxed and confident in front of the lens if you’re not on the same page with the person behind it—especially since there won’t be a long rehearsal process to build confidence in one another. Neither party can dedicate hours and hours to shooting headshots, so quickly discerning an ability to work together is important.

Ultimately, hiring a headshot photographer should be treated as a serious investment—because it is.

© 2020 COPYRIGHT JEREMY BUSTIN PHOTOGRAPHY | PHOTOGRAPHER | PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOTS | PORTRAITS | RICHMOND, STATE OF VA, & WASHINGTON D.C