You have some questions? Of course you do.
Everyone has questions about headshot or portrait photography sessions. This is a collection of the most commonly asked ones. If yours are not here, or you need more information, by all means give me a shout via the ‘contact me’ page.
What is the difference between a portrait and a headshot?
A portrait generally contains more of the subject’s body; half, three quarters or full length. Portraits can also be stylised using computer software in post production, or shot using props, costumes and scenery, as if you were on a film set.
A variation is the environmental portrait, where the subject’s surroundings are included in the final image. It’s creative and incorporates some additional aspects of a space or place. This can be an office area, lobby, worksite, skyline or anything else. Environmental portraits are popular for group or team photographs and editorial pieces.
A ‘head shot’ or ‘headshot’ is a specific type of portrait that gives an accurate representation of a person’s appearance, for business and professional branding. A standard headshot is usually cropped to the subject’s head and shoulder area.
What style of headshot should I choose?
There are a multitude of styles when it comes to portraiture. Luckily, headshot portraits tend to fall into only a handful of choices, which usually depend upon the kind of personal image that you are trying to convey.
As a business, you will have made decisions on how you are branded; your choice of logotype, colour palette, signage and stationery etc. These things all say something about the kind of business that you are. Your headshot image should reinforce your brand or personality.
If the intention is to show that you are part of a team or group, a consistent background should be chosen. This can be colour, grey, or an environmental backdrop appropriate to your brand or business. There is no right or wrong per se, just suitability.
If you have them, discuss with your marketing personnel or design team some appropriate presentation styles. If you’re unsure, give me a call and we can explore some options.
The bottom line is that people do business with people, so try to be yourself.
Do I really need a professional headshot?
A professional headshot is more than just a photograph. It’s your calling card and the embodiment of how you wish to be perceived by the business world. We all, subconsciously, make split second snap decisions, for better or worse, about the people that we meet based on their appearance, poise and dress code. In-person meetings can change those opinions, but if you have only a photograph and some words, a CV or Bio for example, with which to form that opinion, that first impression carries a lot more weight. You may not get another chance to change an ill-informed, or biased judgement.
Would you trust the head of a financial institution with your money, if their LinkedIn profile was a, not quite in focus, mobile phone holiday snap? What does that picture of the latest team member hastily taken in the pub, with a glass of wine just in shot, say about your business’s attention to detail? Do all your social media profiles convey a different style and dress code? Do you have a headshot file ready for use in a press release, marketing material or last minute speaking engagement bio if needed?
A professional, considered, and appropriate headshot, is not just a ‘nice to have’.
Can you make me look better?
A headshot is not a fashion shoot, where all concerned are seeking some sort of elusive hyperreal state of perfection. Your clients want to see that they are dealing with a real human being. The aim of a headshot is to capture an image of you that reflects how you look and feel on a good day. I achieve this through professional lighting techniques, assistance with posing and, most importantly, helping you to relax in front of the camera.
I will happily remove ‘temporary’ blemishes as part of my standard post production process. You don’t even need to ask. So don’t worry about that spot that decided to break out the morning of the photoshoot! I don’t, however, remove moles, birthmarks or scars unless requested, as I consider these to be part of who you are as a person.
Digital slimming, makeup enhancement and permanent skin corrections are considered to be an extra service. As is the removal of any background elements from an environmental portrait. Talk to me in confidence if you would like any ‘corrective’ digital surgery.
Headshots should also be current and reflect who you are now, not what you looked like five or ten years ago, however good you looked then. Keep them up to date [ but then I would say that wouldn’t I? ]
What should I wear?
Whether your dress code is Smart, Smart Casual or Informal, it’s important to choose a style that reflects your market and target audience. For example new media businesses tend to avoid looking too corporate, keeping outfits smart but casual, whilst lawyers and accountants are often shown in more formal attire with fitted shirts, jackets and smart accessories.
Please avoid wearing ‘busy’ clothing. Strong patterns, checks and stripes can draw the attention of the viewer away from the main subject, your face. There’s nothing wrong with bold colours or texture if that’s your style, but what you wear should enhance your face, not detract from it. Generally speaking, white tops on their own are not recommended, as they can create problems with lighting, and are not the best contrast for skin tones in a photograph.
Don’t wear anything with a clearly visible logo or trademark, unless it’s your own branding, of course. There is a danger that it will be perceived as an endorsement for that piece of clothing. Brand marques can be removed in post production, but it will be an extra cost, which can easily be avoided
In a corporate environment, it’s unlikely that we will have the time, or space, to experiment with different wardrobe styles. But for personal, one-to-one, studio headshot sessions, feel free to bring along a couple of different tops to see which works best for you on camera.
Two key things to take away:
1. Don’t aim for a seasonal or fashionable look.
Time passes all too quickly and fashions are fickle. Ideally, the goal should be timeless. This will give you more options for the use of the images, be it online or in print.
2. Be comfortable.
If everyone is praising you for how you look, but it feels awkward or uncomfortable, don’t wear it. Most people feel at least slightly nervous about being photographed; you don’t need to add another level of anxiety. I can help you to relax, but I can’t change what you’re wearing, assuming that you don’t have a change of clothing with you. You’ll have to trust me on this one, it will come across in the photograph if you feel uncomfortable.
If you are thinking about having a haircut, try to do so no less than five days prior to the shoot. As strange as it may sound, you need time for it to settle down. Odd isn’t it, but, otherwise, your hair will look ‘just cut’ and less natural. It’s unlikely that you will need makeup, but I do have a kind of skin ‘blotting paper’ that helps remove the shine from slightly greasy or oily skin.
If you shave regularly, it’s a good idea to do so at least three hours before the shoot. The act of shaving raises small bumps around the hair follicles. These can show up on camera for a couple of hours after shaving.
TIP. Use a fresh blade. It’s the one day that you want to avoid accidentally cutting yourself and need extra retouching to hide the nicks.
I value my health, so I’m not going to tell you how to prepare your hair. You know it far better than anyone else. Unless you intend to invite your personal hairdresser, I would suggest that you bring along any styling products that you feel are necessary. There’s no reason that you can’t have some shots with hair up and others with it down, or whatever style you would like to try. Just remember that extra time should be allowed for experimentation.
As for makeup, unless you’re auditioning to be a clown, ‘keep it simple, keep it natural’, should be the guideline. In particular, don’t wear high gloss lipsticks or shiny lipgloss. Also avoid any face creams, bronzers or blushes that contain any sort of shine or sparkle. These can all create unnatural reflections in close-up photographs.
As an optional extra, I can arrange for a professional makeup artist to be on hand, but most ladies are more than capable of making themselves look good!
Can I do anything to prepare for my shoot?
For me to create great images, you will need to arrive at the session looking and feeling your best. You don’t have to live the life of a nun or monk, but in the weeks prior to your session, moderation is the watchword. Eating healthily, a little exercise if possible, avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol and late nights, will all contribute to healthy skin tones and fresh looking eyes.
What should I bring with me?
A positive attitude. I want you to enjoy the session as much as possible. I do understand that it’s not most people’s idea of fun, and you are probably attending the session out of duty or need, rather than desire. My job is to not only capture some great images, but also to make it as painless as possible. For that, I need a little bit of cooperation. It won’t take long, and you’ll have something good to show at the end of it all. Honest.
Where do the photo sessions take place?
I can take your headshot in any suitable venue within reasonable travelling distance from both of us, or my fully equipped home studio on the outskirts of Portsmouth. If the location is not your place of work, we will need to ensure that we have permission to shoot there. A surcharge will be necessary for extensive travel, but I will discuss that with you prior to any formal commitment on your part.
The main consideration is that there is enough space for any lighting equipment and two people, you and me. Rooms with strongly coloured walls should be avoided if possible, as these can add an unwanted colour cast to a person’s skin. Our brain adjusts for this, but a camera is stupid and doesn’t know what colour it’s looking at! Unless you require an environmental background, dull, boring rooms, with plain wall colouring [white, beige, cream, magnolia, light grey] are, actually, ideal. I do bring portable backdrops with me, so don’t be put off by not having such a wall available.
What if I can't make the appointment?
We all have personal crises, car breakdowns, illness, whatever. If you can give me advance warning, we can usually come to some form of agreement, and reschedule for another time. However, as a business person, you will understand the value of time. Professional photography is a business like any other. When you book a headshot session with me, I refuse all other bookings for that time period. If you are unable to attend the session, that time is lost to me, in either a business or personal sense. I reserve the right to retain the booking fee as compensation for a cancelled session. If we agree on an alternative date, I will make allowance for this in the final fee.
But I hate having my photograph taken!
Everyone from supermodels and celebrities, to the person next door, is obsessed with how they look to the world at large. The reality is, nobody else sees us in quite the same way as we see ourselves in the mirror. All the things that we think of as ‘flaws’, are rarely noticed by everyone else. We are all different and our so-called imperfections are part of our uniqueness.
It’s not in my interest to make you look bad; quite the opposite. I will adjust the lighting, your pose and expression to bring out the best in you. If you have a particular character trait that you would prefer to de-emphasise, we’ll work together to create an image that you’re happy with. If you have two heads it might be a bit of a problem, but I’m sure we’ll manage somehow :-]
Can I use the images anywhere?
Put simply, yes. A headshot is essentially a form of personal branding, or self promotion. But you are only selling yourself, not a product. In the unlikely event that you are planning to use the images as part of an advertising campaign, for a hair product or clothing chain for example, we will need to consider licensing options as part of the contract. Oh, and you won’t be able to sell your images either, they’re purely for your personal / business use – sorry about that.
Why do you shoot in landscape/horizontal format?
Unless you have a very specific requirement for high resolution files that will not be cropped at all, I nearly always shoot in landscape [horizontal] format. I find that this gives my clients the greatest flexibility in the use of their photographs. Images taken in horizontal format can be cropped more easily to suit the needs of web and print applications. See below for some examples.
 Offset cropping to add text in print:
 Vertical cropping for website team gallery:
 Cropped square for social media profiles:
Looking to pass the buck - working with 3rd Parties
Not every business or organisation has the time, skill or resources to work with the photographic files that I supply. It’s not uncommon for me to hand them over to an independent web designer or marketing team. I’m more than happy to work with the person[s] who will be using the files, to ensure that what I deliver meets their needs on your behalf.
How much will it cost me, and what do I get for my money?
For details on pricing click the ‘pricing’ link at the top of the screen. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I keep it simple, with no hidden extras. The prices shown are what you will pay, unless you ask for anything to be added. A request for only blue smarties as part of the backstage rider, or for the location to be a sun drenched beach in the Caribbean [I wish] is considered to be an extra.
Since there is no built-in setup or location fee, my studio sessions are typically the choice of the business professional or individual, that is looking to save money. Location shoots are more suitable for office workers, or similar, when trying to juggle the free time of more than two or three busy people.
After each session, you will have access to a password protected website area for the selection of your preferred images. These will be watermarked, but can be used for layout purposes if required.
Every photograph that is chosen will be colour corrected, with minimal retouching applied [See ‘Can you make me look better’ for details]. All final files are supplied as ready to use, high resolution JPEGs. I can crop to specific sizes for you, if you wish, or leave it you to decide.
Any hidden extras?
Nope. What you sign up for in the agreement/contract is the price that you pay.
Of course, if you ask for something extra on the day, or you change your mind about what it is that you would like, that may be reflected in changes to the final fee. But hey, life happens, and I’m sure we can have a sensible conversation about it.
How long before I get my pictures?
I will usually make the images from the session available for review, as watermarked ’proofs’, within 48 hrs of the shoot itself. You will be notified of availability by an email, which will contain a secure internet web page link and password. Assuming that no extensive retouching has been requested for any images, and that full payment has been received, the finished files will be ready for download within 24hrs of the date and time that the final selections have been made.
Basic Terms and Conditions
You will be sent electronically, or asked to sign on the day, a contract outlining what we have agreed to for the photography session. This is standard practice, and is as much of a contractual safeguard for you, as it is for me. The agreement will include the total payment to be made, less any deposit, and the granting of use of the images for marketing purposes by Headshotz Photo. It does not permit me to sell, distribute or make other financial gain from your selected photographs, without your explicit permission, other than for the purposes of self promotion of my services.
If less than 24 hours cancellation notice is given for any confirmed booking, the booking fee is forfeited unless an alternative date and time is agreed. Travel and any additional fees, if necessary, such as special access or prop hiring, will be quoted separately, per commission.
All usage rights remain with Headshotz Photo until full and final payment has been received. Once full payment has been cleared, you will be granted full licence of the images, indefinitely, for any media. See ‘can I use the images anywhere’ for the one exception.
As the photographer I retain copyright ownership as detailed under the United Kingdom Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Do you have insurance?
Absolutely, for your complete peace of mind, I’m covered by full, up-to-date, Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance.