Frequently Asked Questions:
Can't my friend take my headshot photograph?
One of the most common questions professional photographers get is, “Can’t I just take the pictures myself?” And while you could try, it is unlikely that your friend, with his smartphone, or even with his DSLR, is going to be able to provide you with the same quality of pictures that a professional with a great camera and a practiced eye is going to be able to give you. And when talking about headshots, you should be extremely concerned about quality. Casting agents and recruiters know the difference between professional headshots and those taken by an amateur.
This is perhaps the most convincing reason not to ask your friend to be your headshot photographer: people will be able to tell the difference. Especially if you need headshots for a casting call, you will be putting these pictures in front of people that look at thousands and thousands of headshots. They know what it looks like when you have your pictures professionally taken and they know what it looks like when you ask your friend to take a couple pictures of you during golden hour. There’s a huge difference and they are much more likely to favor the people who have professional pictures (and are therefore seen as more professional), than those who do not.
Your friend might be great at taking pictures of his or her food for Instagram, but headshots are an entirely different game. Framing, lighting, and editing are all going to be very important, and even if you are familiar with editing programs, you are not going to be able to replicate the years of experience with those programs, as well as the years of experience with taking photos that those people have.
It might be possible that your friend takes all right pictures of you that are functional for whatever small way you want to use them. It is much more likely, however, that those pictures are going to make you stand out in a bad way. They are going to look unprofessional, and especially if you are going up against real professionals who have paid for professional pictures, you are going to be the first person that the casting directors or recruiters cross off of their list.
Cost/Benefit of a Professional Photographer
Most people look at the pictures that they can take with their smartphone, run them through a simple editing program, and think that they have a high-quality image that they can use to market themselves or build their brand. The cameras in these smartphones might be great, but the quality of the camera that a person has is not what makes them a professional photographer. A professional is going to be more expensive than just snapping a few photos with your iPhone, but the images that you receive are also going to be much, much more useful.
Costs of Hiring a Professional Photographer
What your shoot and what the pictures actually cost will vary significantly depending on what package you choose and what actually you need pictures taken of. There is a big difference between taking professional headshots and taking pictures of the exterior of your building. There may also be an additional cost for editing, especially if you want special editing done, and for buying the reproduction rights to that photo, if you plan on utilizing it for certain commercial uses.
Benefits of Hiring a Professional Photographer
The benefits of hiring a professional photographer almost always outweigh the negatives. When you hire a professional you get professional shots that make you look like a professional, too. This is especially important for businesses and the self-employed, but it can be just as useful for those who are not trying to build a brand.
A professional photographer knows how to help you look your best. They are committed to find the right light, the right backdrop, and the right angle to make you look great in a picture. Professional editing can take what is already a great photo and make it even better. A professional photographer who has been trained on all the latest programs and software has the ability to create something truly stunning.
You do not just pay a professional photographer to point his camera at you. You are paying for consultation, for design, and for editing. If you want to look like a professional, you will need to pay a professional to take your picture. Whether you want something serious or something artsy, you have a wide variety of options when you work with a serious artist.
A quick guide to choosing clothes for your headshot session
One of the most difficult decisions you will have to make when it comes to your headshot session is what to wear. No matter what you are going to be using your headshots for, you might find yourself with lots of options, but no clear direction when it comes to picking what you will actually look good in. Here is a quick guide that should make it easier to choose clothes for your headshot photoshoot:
What would you wear to an audition? This is a good place to start. Consider what you usually wear to an audition—something similar is likely a good option for your headshots. If you tend to wear more formal clothing, choose something formal to wear during your session. If you, instead, prefer a more casual look, choose something more casual. Keep in mind, however, that your goal is to convey your personality and present a professional appearance.
Solids or patterns? When it comes to patterns on your clothing, it is usually a good idea to go with something very subtle or to not wear anything patterned at all. Anything busy will draw the eye away from your face. Any feature on the garment that attracts attention away from your face is bad. Choose something with a fine weave and no large buttons or patterns.
Should I bring options? Definitely bring options! Your headshot photographer can likely provide lots of great advice about what you should or should not wear, what will look best against the background you’ve chosen, and what will best convey what you want to convey with your headshot. Bringing different options, including different dresses, shirts, blouses, skirts, pants, etc. to choose from can make both of your jobs a lot easier.
How to Look Great in Front of the Camera
Anyone in the South Jersey Philadelphia area who works in front of a camera will want to make the most out of what they have. To get a good look each time, you have to have a plan down. You have to know what you are going to do so that you make all of the right choices. Before your next headshot, make sure that you get it all in order and yourself ready.
The first is the most obvious. Always check to make sure that everything looks good. Your hair, makeup, and outfit should flow together and appear perfect. You do not want frizz, caked on makeup, or a mismatched outfit. All of these things will attract negative attention. People will find themselves drawn to the bad aspects of the photo rather than focusing on the good. It overwhelms the photo and you, and it can destroy your chances of making a good impression. Even if your expression and pose are spectacular, the hair, makeup, and outfit are always essential. You can always have these handled professionally.
Make sure that you do have a good face and pose. When doing a headshot, you want to appear your best. To see what works for you, take a lot of photos on your own or go through existing photos. See which expression and pose make you look the best. You can always reach out for other opinions during this. Once you figure out the face and pose that work best for you, practice them.
Make eye contact with the camera and remain calm and confident. Do not let anything shake you. If you feel nervous, that can translate to the camera. The resulting image will not look as good as you would have hoped. Keep yourself in high spirits, making sure to calm yourself fully before getting in front of the camera.
Prepare. Do not just walk in front of a camera and hope it all works out. Prepare fully. Prepare for how you will look and anything that you will bring. If doing a basic headshot, make sure to know what you will do.
Every South Jersey Philadelphia resident can look good. It is all about knowing how to do it. There are a few parts to it, but it is all about having the right appearance and style, remaining confident, and knowing what you will do. Once you have everything down, you can get some great photos.
How often should you update your headshots for actors/business?
Whether you are using your headshot for casting calls or whether you use your headshot as a part of your business, you will, at some point, need to update that image. Eventually, your hairstyle, clothes, and even the lighting and composition of the picture will start to look dated. People will be able to tell that it is an old picture of you, even if you actually look exactly the same in real life as you do in the picture. Here are some guidelines to help you know when it’s time to update your headshots:
When your appearance changes – If you used to have a beard, but you’ve shaved it off and are not going to grow it back, it is time to update your headshot. If you dye your hair or lose or gain weight, this is a time to have new pictures taken. When you physical appearance changes enough that your old pictures are no longer an accurate depiction of what you look like, it’s time to get new pictures.
When the pictures start to look dated – Your headshots might work great for five or even ten years, but as trends shift, even a hairstyle or piece of clothing you thought was timeless could start to look very old and out of style. If you look at your pictures and all you can think about is how tacky they look, this is a good sign it’s time to update your headshot.
When the old picture is not professional – You can sometimes limp along with an unprofessional picture for a few years. Once, however, you start getting more serious jobs or are interested in putting forward a more professional appearance, you will want to update your headshot and use a real headshot photographer.
Using Environmental Portraits for Your Marketing and Website
When most people think of having their business or even themselves photographed by a professional for marketing purposes, they may only think about having portraits or simple exterior shots of their location. While these can be a great addition to your website, they are not necessarily the best photos for marketing your business or for displaying what it is that you do on your website. Environmental portraits can be a much more effective style, especially for individuals and businesses that want to inject a little more personality into their marketing materials.
What Are Environmental Portraits?
In short, an environmental portrait is still a portrait. It is a picture of a person, but instead of being taken in your studio, it is taken in a place that is natural for your subject. It is taken in his or her environment—where they spend their time. For example, an environmental portrait for an artist would probably be a picture of her, sitting where she paints, paints in hand, working on a picture. Often, these pictures will show the subject interacting with her environment. If she is a chef, for example, the picture might not just be of her in a kitchen, but actually preparing a dish.
Are Environmental Portraits Right for Me or My Business?
The biggest benefit of choosing an environmental picture is the ability to add a little more personality into your marketing materials or your web presence. While a standard portrait might be able to display your personality and connect it to your business, only an environmental picture will actually show you in your element. Why is this important? Because, especially with marketing, you are trying to inspire confidence and build an image of authority. When you show yourself in your place of business, doing what you do best, you capture a picture that conveys that you know how to do what you said you can do and that you are actively doing it.
With this type of portrait, you are giving the viewer a glimpse into the everyday life of you or your brand. This is humanizing—and in today’s market, with mega-corporations and faceless organizations, consumers want to see who they are actually dealing with. Show them a picture of you in your most natural environment and they will make a connection with you.
What makes a great headshot?
When it comes time for you to get your headshot, you might be wondering what exactly you need to do in order to make it as effective as it possibly can be. Your headshot is essentially your visual business card. What makes a great headshot? Here are some of the elements:
Professional composition – A headshot should be taken by a professional who has extensive experience taking these kinds of pictures. Only a professional will really know how to compose a picture that is guaranteed to impress all those who look at it. Even if you have a great camera of your home, professionals know what casting directors and agents are looking for in headshots and know how to create pictures that get their attention.
Atmosphere and personality – Another reason to work with a professional is that they will be able to help you create the right atmosphere in your pictures and will be able to capture your unique personality. A headshot is far more than just a picture of your face. It should be able to convey to the viewer your value, your personality, and your commitment. A picture with no personality is going to be cast aside. One that shows who you are is going to be passed on to casting directors.
Looks like you – One of the biggest mistakes that many people, especially those who are new to acting and the world of headshots, make is to alter a picture so significantly that it does not even really look like themselves anymore. A great headshot will still look like you. You might want to erase some acne or clean up a few lines, to put your best face forward, but the picture should not be so doctored that you and the picture look nothing alike.