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GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR HEADSHOT.

Part 3 – Delivery.


The third and last post in a short series about getting the most from your headshot photo shoot. With a special offer for readers of this blog – read on Macduff…

In the first post we looked at The Objective: what you want to achieve with your new headshot. And in the second it was the turn of Preparation: what you need to consider in the run up to the shoot.

So, we come to the last part of this process:

Delivery

Delivery is not just how you receive your images (although I will touch on that below), but what I believe you should expect from your photographer and how they make you feel before, during and after shooting has begun.

You must feel as comfortable and confident in front of the camera as possible. That’s the basic springboard for everything that will happen in the shoot and how you will get what you want from it.

For some sitters that confidence will come easier than others. But it’s why I suggested the importance of meeting your photographer beforehand. It helps break the ice: you aren’t walking into a photo shoot with a total stranger behind the camera.

Two of my core values as a photographer are relationship and collaboration. The best headshots are created together: it’s a collaboration between the sitter and the photographer, and that’s a great approach.

The best headshot photographers will be working to maintain that positive atmosphere in which you can respond confidently. So, if you’re feeling rushed, ignored or ‘a bit like a piece of meat’ (and I’ve heard that before) then something is wrong.

And it isn’t you.

Remember you are your brand. Nearly every actor, artist, musician etc I know and have photographed works exceptionally hard to do what they do. So, don’t expect your brand to receive anything less than the focus, respect and sensitivity it deserves.

Any headshot/portrait photographer worth parting with your hard-earned cash for knows it’s all about YOU not them. They steer the experience to that end. Making you feel comfortable and confident so that you feel good, look good and increase the chances of getting exactly the photos you’re after.

How might this manifest itself during the shoot?

Well, I believe some good indicators are:

  1. Technical competence and excellence – If the photographer is confident in what they are doing that helps you to be confident in what you are doing (in some ways it’s a bit like the performer/audience relationship). A photographer who is stopping every few seconds to twiddle with a setting on the camera because they haven’t prepared (or don’t know their stuff) is not good for the flow of the shoot and will probably make you nervous.
  2. Showing you some of the results as they come. That way the photographer can explain if anything is or isn’t working and you can both see whether the shoot is moving in tune with your goals. It’s a great opportunity for you to add suggestions too. On location you will be looking at the small screen on the rear of the camera, so really take a moment to look. In the studio it might well be that the photographer has the camera ‘tethered’ to a laptop which means you can both view the results much more clearly.
  3. The photographer regularly checks in with how you are feeling. Might seem a bit over-the-top but think about it this way: a photo shoot is a fun process (or at least it should be) but it is possible that feelings of self-consciousness or vanity will come up. And that’s ok. A good photographer must be sensitive to that stuff. Checking in with you helps to gauge how you are doing and helps support the energy of the shoot.

I also like to give a bit of room for ‘play’. Maybe it’s the last 10 minutes of the shoot, once we’re happy the main shots are captured, and we just loosen the reins of the brief. That’s often when great additional portfolio shots will come. This will be ‘to taste’ but I try never to rule it out and it’s not something you should expect from every photographer.

What should you expect after the shoot?

  1. A selection gallery. It’s usually the case that the photographer will provide some form of private, password protected online gallery. The gallery is there for you and your agent/manager to make the best selection from. Let’s say there are on average between 200-400 shots taken at a two hour headshot shoot. The photographer will get rid of the obvious rejects, e.g. the shots where you blinked as the shutter fired, as well as any duplicates.
  2. To help with this the photographer may flag up the file numbers of the images that fit the objectives the best. They may also make suggestions as to which of the other images are strong. Either way, at the end of the day the choice is yours and you may or may not disagree with the suggestions. That’s ok. You’re the customer. However, it can be daunting to view so many images of yourself and a second or third opinion will help. I like to give the option as part of my service.
  3. Agreed edits and retouching. Photographers will have different packages and rates depending on their experience and reputation. You and your photographer will agree your package and how many of the images you select for final edit will obviously be finalised in your discussions and any written agreement/contract (NB I can’t emphasise enough the importance of a signed written agreement/contract to protect you and the photographer – without one there are no guarantees, remember Matt Damon in the first post?). However many final edits your package covers, I firmly believe you should expect a professional edit and retouch. This can include spot removal, skin tone retouching etc. I offer this as part of my packages from the get go but some photographers may see this as an additional.
  4. Finally, image delivery in both high  and low resolutions. This means you can use your images for printing and for websites/social media etc. as soon as they are delivered. I offer colour and monochrome versions just to make life easier but again that might not be every photographers method. How those images are delivered may vary but nearly every photographer these days ought to provide another online gallery from which you can download everything in one go. There will occasionally be a need for a disc or USB stick of images as well, but chances are these will cost extra.

And what about printing? Well I no longer offer printing in my packages because it means additional mark up to my sitters which I don’t want to pass on. Especially as the printed headshot is becoming less and less of a necessity in the quantities they used to be. Of course if necessary I can deliver prints but I prefer to leave the option open to my clients to source the best value printing for themselves from companies such as VISUALEYES. Yet again this may vary from photographer to photographer.

So that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed my short but concentrated take on the headshot process. Some of it might seem obvious but it’s surprising what we can forget. More often than not good photography comes from common sense and simple problem solving.

I hope you’ve also got a taste for what a positive experience a headshot photo shoot can be. One that has the potential to help get you closer to where you want to be and how ‘Brand You’ can best be represented photographically.

If you’re ready to dive in and create some great headshots with me then check out my headshot and portfolio packages here to make a booking (and if you quote the code: LooksLove15 you’ll be in for a 10% discount) or if you just want to ask any questions rising from these posts then feel free to drop me a line.

Above all, I hope the three posts in this headshots series help you move towards the images you are looking for and that help you to shine.

Image credits (from left to right): Actress Caroline O’Hara; Actor Daniel Crow; Soprano Joelle Harvey (photographed with kind permission in The Old Green Room, Glyndebourne).

All images © James Bellorini.

James is a commercial, editorial and documentary photographer. He has over ten years experience in the arts and entertainment industries and has worked for internationally recognised brands including Glyndebourne, The Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Old Vic. His portrait and headshot clients include actors, musicians, writers, artists, international singers, entrepreneurs and corporates. He is a member of the Redeye Network and a participant in their Lightbox program for emerging photographers.