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Starting at Zero: Headshots

Setting Goals: p.1
What to Expect: p.2
Finding a Photographer: p.3
Cost: p.4
Dos and Don'ts: p.5
Getting Ready: p.6
The Shoot: p.7
Your Proofsheets: p.8
Makin' Copies: p.9
Headshots Online?: p.10

How to Select a Photographer

You'll probably want to interview a number of photographers to see which one - no pun intended - clicks. But what do you base that feeling on? Here are some tips:

  • Ask to see his or her portfolio. Any photographer should be willing to show a variety of samples of their work. Even if the photographer is just getting started, he or she should be able to show you a representation of what your expected end result will look like.

  • Have they shot performing arts headshots before? Or are they simply general photographers? Many perfectly reputable professional photographers don't always have an understanding of what it takes to make a good performing arts headshot.

  • Talk with the photographer. Do you feel comfortable? Having photographs taken can sometimes make you feel vulnerable. So you should be sure that you are at ease with the person when you're chatting.  The rapport that the two of you establish enters into the success of the shoot itself.

  • Are the costs that the photographer quotes within your price range? Headshots can get expensive. And you've got to be able to afford both the session itself and the subsequent reproduction of the headshots. But remember that, since people regularly use high-quality headshots for two or three years, it's sometimes better to spend the extra money to use a more expensive photographer if you believe that person will provide results you will use for a longer period of time.

See How Much Should Headshots Cost?

  • Find out what kind of lighting they use. Do they prefer natural light? Artificial light? A combination of both? (If you get a blank stare when you ask any of these questions, turn immediately on your heels and walk out.)  If the photographer wants you to sit under a tree and take your pictures with no additional lighting, you should be a little suspicious.  It's not impossible to create a usable headshot in this way.  But much of the dramatic effect that differentiates a performing arts headshot from a picture of your local real estate agent or insurance salesman is created by lighting.  A good headshot photographer invariably has a thorough understanding of lighting and how to use it effectively in conjunction with the camera to create a specific look.

More ...
How Much Should It Cost

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