4 THINGS YOU SHOULD LOOK AT WHEN CHOOSING YOUR HEADSHOT PHOTOGRAPHER
Updated: Apr 28
You have reached a point in your career where you know you need to step up your game in terms of personal branding and executive presence ( Head this way to know what personal branding is 😉). Typing your name in Google Images can be a wake-up call to move forward and to decide to book a professional portrait photographer.
But here you are, facing so many different offers... what's more, if you are in big cities like New York or Paris!
Here is a checklist of what you should pay attention to when choosing your corporate headshot and portrait photographer:
1 - PROFESSIONAL MODELS IN THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S PORTFOLIO
A good executive portrait photographer has skills that differ from a fashion photographer and vice versa. A professional headshot photographer should excel at handling people that are not used to be in front of a camera and it requires a lot of training and experience. To photograph a model is a completely different story as the model plays a major role in posing and giving expressions to the fashion photographer. As an executive, that is definitely not your job to know how to handle that part. You have already so much more on your plate. That's 100% of the portrait photographer's job.
So look at the images on the portrait photographer's website: If it shows mainly what seems to be professional models, it will give you a hint that chances are high that you will have to handle your posing and expressions yourself. However, if you see a very diverse portrait portfolio, you can feel confident that you will be fully guided and you won't have to stress in any way to make sure you look your best self on your professional photos.
2 - SOLID PERSONAL BRANDING = DIFFERENT MOODS & IMAGES
As an executive growing your career or your own business, you have to work on your personal branding. It means a strong visual identity in all the professional images you post on internet for all your different projects. It will help you stand out from the crowd.
If you want just one professional headshot similar to your coworkers or if you are not interested in differentiating yourself from the competition, then you will be fine hiring a headshot photographer that shows all the same backdrops and moods and lights on all the images of her/his portfolio.
However, if you want to do things the 'convincing' way, you will want to show the different facets of your personality and expertise, so look for a professional photographer who is able to deliver images in studio light, natural light, inside, outside, with different types of backdrops, poses, framing etc. A portrait photographer that will fully tailor your portrait shoot and create the images around you needs.
3 - EDITING STYLE
You have 3 types of headshot photographers :
Purist ones: The ones who shoot and do not edit or retouch the images in any away. (So better have 7 great nights of sleep before and a perfectly ironed outfit 😉 !)
The quick and fast ones: The ones who shoot and simply edit the images: they load the images in a software like Adobe Lightroom or CaptureOne and they will adjust the contrasts, the colours, and tones. But again, they won't touch up any hair fly-aways, or shirt wrinkles, etc.
The full-service portrait photographers: And finally, you have the one who wants to deliver a complete professional service and so they edit (like the point above) and retouch on Adobe Photoshop the images. Keep in mind that in the photoshopping part, there are different degrees. The ones who correct in a subtle way different details like hair fly aways, glasses glare, clothing wrinkles and bulging, dark circles, etc. And then there are the ones who go way too far and you end up with no more pores in your skin, extremely white teeth and eye white, etc. (you don't want to go there either)
What you want to look for, if you want a neat and clean professional picture, is for the photographers that offer editing AND retouching in Photoshop in a natural and subtle way.
So if you don't like the way photos are retouched in a photographer's portfolio/website, simply don't head that way as it might lead to frustration from both sides.
4 - UNDERSTANDING THE PACKAGES
Photoshoot location: Where is the photoshoot taking place? Can you have your executive portraits done inside? and/ or outside? And if it is inside, can you have a studio look only, or can you also have natural light looks? You want to be booking the headshot photographer than can deliver the most options. If you are, like most of us, packed busy, you can also look for a photographer that can come also on-site, at your home or office with her/his studio gears.
Shooting time: Is it limited? Lots of photographers limit their shooting time, sometimes in very short sessions. Remember that it is like everything, you will most probably need a little 'warm-up' time and we all differ on the length of it. The best is to have not a specific limit of time like that you will face a photographer who is here to deliver some great images (even if it can indeed be done fast for some people), not to be done as fast as possible whatever your satisfaction level.
The number of outfits: Is it limited? The best is not to have a specific limit on that one either. It doesn't mean that the professional photographer will have you wear 100 outfits, it simply means that the headshot photographer will be results-oriented and wanting to deliver images answering your needs. Sometimes you put on an outfit thinking it will photograph well and then when you see the images, you realize the textile doesn't react well with the studio lights. In that case, believe me, you want to have the flexibility to change outfits for your professional photos and not to have to stick with it just because these are the rules at the sake of compromising the results.
Selection of the images: will you have the possibility to see the images directly on-site and be able to select yourself your favorite ones? Or will it be the photographer who makes the selection for you? Overall, always choose the option where you are the one who will be able to select your favorite images. Some headshot photographers will show you the images directly on-site to pre-select and then have those pictures edited/retouched. Or you have the ones who will not show you directly the images, they will have a big selection edited and retouched for you to then pick your favorite ones. Both of those first options are what you want to look for. What you do not want is to have the portrait photographer doing the selection of your absolute final images without having you confirming that selection.
Images edited or retouched: Frankly speaking, nowadays with the great phone cameras and some Youtube tutorials, you can easily create yourself a very basic headshot that could satisfy your short term. However, if you want to stand out from the crowd, invest in yourself the way high-level executives do to achieve great solid results, you really want to book a professional photographer that will deliver high-end images that you can not create yourself. So go for the full upscale service and choose a portrait package that includes proper professional editing and retouching service on the images. Take yourself seriously and don't go halfway on that, you won't regret it !