There are so many photographers out there to choose from to meet your needs. Some are focused on just one segment of the market such as weddings while others are a jack of all trades. Headshots is one area that is gaining increased attention because of the proliferation of social media for personal and professional applications. More and more individuals recognizie the need for something more than a self-portrait, a photo taken by a friend or relative or heaven forbid–a party cutout. Many photographers offer headshot photography as part of their services but very few concentrate on just being the best Dallas headshot photographer. Here are a few things to think about before you select someone to create that distinctive Dallas corporate headshot that makes you look confident and approachable or that amazing actor headshot that will help you get more auditions.
“It’s about the expression, without it you do not have a shot.” My mentor Peter Hurley mentions that all the time during his workshops. Photography accounts for only 10% of a dynamite professional headshot. The balance is the photographer’s ability to coach or direct the right expression from you. There are photographer’s out there who can get some of the photography right. That is, they’ve got the fancy camera and lighting set up as well as actually know how to use it. The images are properly exposed, well lit as well as nice and sharp in all the right places. But the image falls flat on its face because the client has a blank stare, looks scared, looks mad, looks too eager, or just plain old out to lunch, etc. The headshot is an image created for you with yourself as the product. Yes! It’s a commercial about your personal brand. It’s extremely important. It’s not just a place holder. It’s worth spending more than just $40 at the local Sears or Wal-Mart. The headshot on your resume or website may be the difference between someone taking a second look at you and what you have to offer. In behavioral science terms, your headshot can serve as either “negative re-enforcement” or “positive re-enforcement” of your brand.
A dynamite headshot is an investment. If you want a distinctive image, photographers who specialize in headshots will charge you either on an a la carte basis or a package for the following services: 1) the creative session which can be as short as 20-30 minutes for a corporate executive headshot or a few hours for an actor headshot portfolio generally ranges from $200-$1000; 2) retouching services for each image you want to use depending on the package starts at $45 for basic services; 3) the rights to use the high resolution images for either personal (non re-sale) or commercial use for things that will be resold such as products, book covers, etc. and 4) a make-up artist on-site for women. If you are a woman, you should also plan on budgeting for a make-up artist to be on site, which starts at about $75 for one look or $150 for three. So for budgeting purposes, plan on spending at least a few hundred dollars to easily more than a thousand for your headshot depending on how many different images you need, how much retouching you request beyond the basic package and the cost of the make-up artist.
I should briefly address retouching. And “retouching” has become such as over used word that most people do not really know what it means. The basic retouching package should include color correction, softening of facial lines, adjustment of the shadows, eyes, teeth, smoothing skin, hair and make-up. But most important of all, after the retouching, the image should look finished NOT retouched. I’ve seen so many botched retouching jobs where the person looked like a plastic doll or mannequin in the final image. I don’t do my own retouching because there are people out there who do nothing but retouching all day long every day. Many professional headshot photographers do not do their own either. After trying several retouchers, I’ve decided to use Colorworks in New York City exclusively. The best is subjective so let’s just say their work matches the style and quality I want as well as a workflow that strikes the right balance between client and photographer friendly.
Here are two images of Shelby Feil, who is Miss Jr Teen of Texas 2012. One image is straight as it came out of my camera. No adjustments were made other than to convert the RAW file to JPEG for viewing on most screens. I would say that image is pretty much ready for use. However, the image was sent to Colorworks for basic retouching. You be the judge. Which do you prefer?
Throw out that self-portrait, amateur photo or party cut-out. Get out there and work on your personal branding. Whether you are a business professional or a performing artist, get a headshot that matches the image you want to present to others.
I had a professional headshot session for Kristin and Courtney the other day. Both are members of the very talented Texas Revolution Dance Team. However, during the day both are technical recruiters specializing in filling IT positions. While I was photographing Kristin, Courtney jumped up and said, “I have to post this on Vine” so I gave it my best shot at a Peter Hurley imitation in the 30 seconds. I’ve never heard of Vine before. There are so many social networks these day, how can anyone keep up. I may have to upgrade my Hootesuite account so I can maintain all my social networks much easier.
AC is a young teenager I photographed in the studio recently. He was a bit of a ham with visions of becoming the next Justin Bieber. He spent an hour just playing in front of the camera. During a lull I asked him who his dream date would be and also if he could move his eye brows independently. He never tried but gave it a whirl. He broke out laughing and so did his parents. I caught the laugh and found out Mila Kunis is his dream date, but my favorite shot was AC raising his left eye brow.
I would be happy as a clam if I could do a portrait headshot for people all day everyday. There is something fun and creative about trying to pull an expression from your subject. Some photographers can do it better than others. There are photographers who should probably double as comedians or therapists and there are photographers who could moonlight as story tellers judging by how they create the emotion they want or need. I’m a little bit more of all-of the-above kind of guy. I also prefer to shoot in the studio where I can control everything, but when the weather is nice it’s tough not to enjoy Mother Nature. Plus it’s difficult to get better lighting than that created by God so I do shoot outside on occasion. This past weekend was partly cloudy so I couldn’t turn down the chance to take advantage of the perfect lightning conditions.
Leica M9 with a 75/1.4 Summilux at ISO 200, f/8, 1/125 of a second.
I recently rearranged my headshot studio so I would have more space between the V-Flats. The back wall is cream colored but rather than put up either seamless paper or my Hurley ProBoard, I just lit it with a couple of Dynalite Uni400s. I shot her with a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 70-200/2.8L lens that was tethered to a 15 inch MacBook Pro with an Apple Thunderbolt Cinema Display and running Lightroom 4.
Kate was kind enough to model for me so I can test my setup. The only change I would make is to pump up my backlight by a stop or two.