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How to Choose the Right Headshot Photographer

Jule Kim Seattle Headshot Photographer

Everyone knows that picking the right headshot photographer is your most important step because they can make or break how your photos turn out. Not all photographers are the same, and even one year more of experience can yield noticeably different results.

Your first question is probably this:

How do I start looking for a photographer?

You’ll either get a recommendation from someone you know or you’ll have to look somewhere like Google and Yelp. See a friend who had photos done recently that you thought looked great? Ask them what the photographer was like, and how the experience was. Otherwise, you’ll have to do some research online to see who has a portfolio with a style you like.

Start Thinning the Herd

What you should look for is a portfolio that has photos that appeal to you, or with a style that you’d like for your own headshots. Evaluate the color and editing, but also look at the general mood of the clients portrayed in the portfolio.

Are most of them serious looking, or are they smiley? What’s the lighting like? How have they been posed? Are the photos flattering overall?

If you don’t even like the look of headshot photographer’s portfolio, then move along. The portfolio is a collection of the best work a photographer has to offer. If you don’t like their best efforts then that doesn’t bode well for you if you choose to hire them.

Meet Your Photographer Candidates

After you’ve narrowed down your choices to 2-3 potential headshot photographers, you should set up phone calls or in-person meetings with them.

Meeting them in person is best, so that you get a feel for the photographer’s personality. This will give you a good idea of who you’ll be most comfortable with during the session, so that you have a higher chance of getting relaxed and natural looking photos.

During your chat, make sure you ask them all your questions. An easy way to start is by asking what the general process is like the day of the session. The right headshot photographer will address all of these points and more.

  • Will the photographer help you choose what to wear?
  • Where do you want the photos taken?
  • What kind of mood do you want your headshot photos to have?
  • Do you want to be posed, or would you rather have a more lifestyle look to your headshots?
  • Are there certain features that you want de-emphasized? Make sure you ask how they deal with that.

Is the Photographer’s Customer Service Amazing?

Also ask what the photographer’s policy is in the event that you are not happy with any of the photos–what happens then? Do you get a refund, or another session?

For instance, I offer a total 1000% happiness warranty. If my client ends up not wanting any of their photos, from the first session and the re-do session, then I will refund their session fee.

If the headshot photographer has a contract, ask to see it so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Here are some of the questions you might want to check the contract for.

  • How long will the session take?
  • Is there a deposit? What’s the refund policy?
  • If you need to reschedule the session, what’s the minimum notice required?
  • How many photos will you get, and what’s the pricing? Do you get to pick the photos you buy, or do you get an entire set of photos?
  • How much retouching is included? How will they handle specific requests for retouching?
  • What usage rights are you getting with the photos?
  • What resolution will the photos be? Will they come optimized for social media as well?
  • How will the photos be delivered, and by when?

After you’ve met with the headshot photographers you’re considering, pick the one who has a portfolio matching the style you want plus a personality that demonstrates they were really listening to what you wanted.

This last part is especially important. I can’t tell you how many photographers I’ve seen who ignore a client’s direct requests because they either weren’t listening or they didn’t agree with what the client wanted.

After the Session

Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for your photos to arrive. Once they do, look them over carefully to see if there’s anything you want changed. Otherwise, you’re done and you get to start updating all of your headshots online.

Good luck!

Jule Kim

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