Taking headshots can be a good start to a career as a professional photographer. Or if you have a few years under your belt, they can be an excellent additional source of income alongside your main job of photography.
The reason for this, of course, is that they’re pretty quick and easy to make; For example, if you already serve commercial clients for product images or architectural work, you could offer portraits to those same clients. Or if you primarily shoot weddings, maybe you have a side business doing off-season headshots.
What is a headshot?
But what is a headshot? And how is it different from a portrait? Well, for me at least, the main difference is intent. A headshot is meant to be used in a professional setting, e.g. B. on LinkedIn or a company website; So in a sense it is a type of portrait with the intention of using professional capital and not something separate from a portrait.
When we imagine a headshot, it’s generally on a plain background with business attire, whatever that is. But if we come back to the intention of professional use, then different professions might tend to different levels of conformity; For example, a portrait photograph of an office worker may conform to certain ideals of what an office worker desires to portray as compared to a portrait photograph of a musician or artist. Additionally, different professions may use specific tropes to express that profession (e.g., a scientist or doctor might want a headshot in a lab coat, while a headshot of a cameraperson might see them standing next to their camera).
When negotiating a headshot session with a client, it’s worth discussing how the images will be used and whether the client might want to adhere to any conventions or tropes. And weigh that against the amount of headshots, of course; So if you’re photographing a single person, you might be able to offer a few different types of imagery, but photographing a large company with hundreds of employees can mean each employee gets a fairly standard head and shoulders against a solid background.
Above I’ve shared a list of potential items I might ask a customer to bring. Of course you want to tailor this to your client. For example, I work with and for some professional models, and it’s fair to suggest that models bring things like underwear or swimwear. This might not be a good idea for someone working in business.
Conversely, if you’re shooting a single person or a small team and you’re offering a boutique service, asking clients to bring a few outfits might work well, but if you’re working with a large company with many people to photograph, you might limit yourself the number of outfits to one.
Some do’s and don’ts
When styling for a photoshoot, you want the clothes to reflect the person as a person. That means wearing clothes that they feel comfortable and comfortable in.
In general, you should avoid anything that is too preoccupied with logos or patterns.
Anything too shiny (e.g. synthetic fabrics) should also be avoided.
For this reason, I advise my clients not to buy anything specifically for their photo shoot. When buying new clothes, strive to get ones that reflect their style and will be treasured for a long time.