What is a headshot?
A clear and accurate representation of you - and yep, its generally just your head and shoulders. (No jazz hands!)
What’s a GOOD headshot?
Ah well, that’s a different question altogether.
Where performers are concerned, it's harsh but you simply will not get called to audition, have your showreel seen (or even have your spotlight link clicked!) if your headshot is weak. A great headshot is the key to the door being opened.
Considering casting directors are looking at 100's of headshots at a time, yours must have instant impact. And that impact comes from within: how you are feeling and the overall emotion you convey. Your headshot should captivate the viewer.
I was an actor for 10 years (film/TV) and I’ve since been told that I now think like a casting director. I see stories, roles and characters as I am shooting. Sometimes just a tiny adjustment to the shot or expression will clarify the intention and can suggest something that will spark a thought process to the viewer (i.e. casting director.) We want them to mentally superimpose your image onto the physical brief they are currently casting for and shortlist you. And if you’re very lucky, sometimes your headshot will get you called in when you actually don’t look anything like the brief. That means they loved whatever it is you are ‘portraying’ so much they didn’t care. Something about you captivated them enough to risk it. Now that’s a good headshot.
What can I expect in the session as I am soooooo nervous! (Note the number of o’s to represent that is said a LOT.)
In an ideal world, a poor ‘headshot phobic’ would arrive at a session, be given an intravenous drip to knock them out, then wake up a bit later with some fab headshots without actually having to experience it! So - we cant do that! But we can make sure you have enough fun so you don't feel the pain.
I experienced some mediocre and a couple of damn right bad headshot sessions when I was acting so I was determined to do it better. If you are chilled and happy you will look good. Simple. You just need the right environment to be amazing. But just because you now feel a bit reassured, remember you may still be terrified on the day and that is totally normal. We will have a cuppa and a giggle and trust me, after half an hour you will be rocking it. Everyone always does.
I hate having my photo taken!
ME TOO!! Funny isn’t it - we choose to be performers but hate having photos taken? That’s because you are not performing. You are being you. But you suggesting the role you would like to get. But being super subtle. No pressure then. THAT’S why it’s tricky. But it’s also very possible. And when done properly will book you jobs. Which is, after all, the name of the game.
Can I show you my previous headshots?
Yes of course. I usually ask to look at your previous ones to see what you liked or didn’t like. Also good to get your agents requirements and discuss your casting types and career path etc. so we can create shots to help catapult you to fame and fortune! We will constantly review the images and our progress as we go along and make necessary changes if necessary.
What happens after the shoot?
You go home and celebrate how fabulous you can be and I edit your images down into 2 galleries. One gallery has all usable images. The other gallery is quality edited with suggestions for shots I personally fall in love with and think will book you jobs. So, from that you will probably be able to answer the next FAQ…
Do you send me all images from the shoot and can I have a CD of all images?
The short answer: God no. You’d kill yourself.
The full answer: Unlike some photographers, I never let you see all images taken - it’s a pointless exercise. Apart from you having to sift through many hundreds of shots, a large number of which will have one eye closed or have a less than flattering expression, you have to trust that I will only give you shots that you can actually use. This is what enables me to ensure that clients only choose fabulous shots that will reflect positively on both of us. I hope this is the reason you chose to work with me!
Remember - when it comes to photographs, quality is far more important that volume. It is totally unnecessary for you to see all images. It’s actually more damaging because not only does it depress you to see so many shots of winky eyes/strange expressions, you get tired and desperate thinking “ooh these 3 shots are almost identical – which one should I pick…?” And then end up choosing the wrong ones. I do this bit for you, as I am very experienced in seeing “killer shots” out of a mass of images.
I want the whole experience of you working with me to be full of confidence about the way you are portrayed; from the shoot through to viewing etc. and this process is the most successful! Further, I do not release any images that have not been edited. However, I do send you all useable shots with your final order - but these will have a watermark across the middle of the image as they not for use. They are intended purely as reference, as they will be unedited.
How do I book a session?
By email firstname.lastname@example.org
How far in advance are you booked?
About 6 weeks but get in touch anyway as I sometimes have cancellations or last minute availability. I will always try to fit you in if I can.
How do I pay?
By bank transfer. I take a non-refundable deposit first then you pay the remaining balance a week before the shoot. Happy to take the remaining balance in cash on the day, if you prefer. Whichever method of payment you choose, you will receive a full receipt with the final images.
Do you do student discounts?
No because I have designed my packages with all budgets in mind.
Colour or black and white?
Colour. Colour. Colour. Is that enough of a hint? Very modern and very handy to save poor casting directors having to read what colour hair and eyes you have (seriously they haven’t got time). However, it is possible that you could be asked for a black and white version at some point in the future, so I always give a set of black and whites (no charge).
Is a make up artist/hair stylist included?
No - hair and make up is always a separate fee (around £80-£125 depending on how long you require them to stay etc.), paid directly to the make-up artist and is only available on 2hr and 4hr sessions.
To be honest, the best headshots are about getting a relaxed and natural look with minimal make up and very subtle hair styling anyway so a stylist isn’t really necessary. I have assisted and/or styled nearly all the headshots on my website so I am quite 'hands on' with hair and make up and this always seems to work well!
What about clothes, hair and make up?
I will send you a comprehensive list of clothes suggestions and advice on hair and make up. But briefly, bring a lot of options and keep hair and make up simple.
Where do we shoot?
In my darling new studio, a couple of minutes walk from Brixton tube.
Natural light or flash?
I like to shoot both. Depends on my ‘vision’ for you and what we’ve discussed with regards to the type of shots you want to get e.g. film/theatre/commercial/dark, moody etc.
Can I shoot outside because I love trees!
(Yes, I have been asked this…). Regarding location shoots, I don't shoot outdoors unless it’s for a fashion, PR type job or there's a specific reason to so. Headshots really need a controlled environment so the model is totally relaxed not stressed about hair blowing all over the place, rain/wind/too much sun/issues of where to change/people staring etc.!
However, I do love natural light and half my headshots are shot indoors etc. with natural light. So not quite sure if you just want natural light or you want trees in the background! (Which you won't actually see anyway, as the shot will be focused on your face.) If you have seen my shots on my website you may think they were shot outside when they were actually indoors with natural light flooding in.
Can I shave halfway through?
Yes but please book a standard session for this. We have to allow time not just for shaving but also for any redness to go down.
What if I get a spot?
Leave it and give it lots of love. We can zap it off when retouching.
How should I prepare for the session?
If possible, lead a virtuous life and be kind to animals and small children. If that fails, cut back on any unheathly food and drink, get a few early nights, and drink lots of water.
Can I cut or colour my hair just before the shoot?
You can but you may not like it or may just not feel yourself for a few days, so ideally do it at least a week before so you can get used to it.
How much retouching will you do?
Put it this way, the final images will have some extra punch but will look just like you but you on a very good “I’m feeling wonderful” day after lots of R+R. You wont look fake or air brushed and a casting director shouldn’t be able to notice any changes. They should just say when “hey great headshot!” when they meet you.
How long will I have to wait to get the shots?
I am super busy at the moment (happy face) so tend to take around a week to send out galleries. And once you have chosen your final selection it will be another week to receive them.
I want extra shots is that possible?
Of course! Prices start from £25 each (depending on how many you buy and how quickly you order. I discount for promptness!)
Do you do joint sessions?
No, because I like to concentrate entirely on the client I am working with and don’t want to jeopardize the quality.
How often should I get my headshots replaced?
Ideally every 18 mths - 2 yrs. Of course if you change your hair etc you may need to come again a little sooner.
Who has the copyright to the images?
The photographer. You are granted a licence to use them for personal use.
Do you do any other type of photography?
Yes, I shoot fashion - adults and kids. I also shoot many types of portrait. Email me to discuss email@example.com
Why do headshots cost so much?
You are buying talent! Seriously though, headshot photography is a very specific genre. To get shots that will book you jobs you need to hire someone who knows what they’re doing. It is about investing in the photographer’s skill and artistic vision.
This is a great article that explains it well. It is geared towards the family photography market but the principals the same.
This article was written by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography http://www.marmaladephotography.com