The headshot photographer charges a premium price, but “isn’t your career worth it?”

The headshot photographer charges a premium price, but “isn’t your career worth it?”

You get what you pay for. Right?

Your career may be worth it, but you don’t always get what you pay for.

While we often equate product quality with price, a photographer who charges a premium price doesn’t necessarily provide photos that are better than a photographer who charges much less.

So be careful not to be manipulated into working with a headshot photographer simply because their rates are above the average of other headshot photographers in your area.

In the end, choose a headshot photographer based on the quality of their work and your specific needs.

They imply that not working with them could jeopardize your acting career.

The headshot photographer implies that if you don’t work with them, it could jeopardize your acting career.

This is a scare tactic intended to motivate you through fear. Of all the good reasons to work with a photographer, making the decision to do so out of fear is not one of them.

It’s just a headshot folks! It’s a photograph. Yes, you want a good one which accurately reflects who you are, but even if that’s not what you get, you’re acting career isn’t over. You have someone else take your headshot!

I know headshots can be a big investment, but as an actor, it’s something you need to grow accustomed to because every time your look evolves, you’ll need a new one. That’s why it’s such a beautiful thing if you find a great photographer who provides the type of shots you like. The chances are good that you’ll get another great shot the next time you get headshots.

And that’s also why it’s a little easier for photographers who have been working in a certain area for a prolonged period of time. Repeat business is beautiful!

Also keep in mind that not every actor who succeeds in Hollywood has an amazing headshot. But whatever it was about their headshot grabbed the attention of the casting director. And whatever it was about their audition, presentation, and acting skills sealed the deal.

Yes, the industry is incredibly competitive and having a professional looking headshot will help you, but it is no guarantee of success. And having a less-than-spectacular headshot is no guarantee that your mission to make it will result in failure. Though obviously between the two, you’ll be giving yourself a better favor by getting a great headshot that showcases the true you.

The headshot photographer claims to know casting directors who love their work.

The headshot photographer claims to know casting directors who love their work.

The idea behind using this in a marketing fashion is that the photographer wants you to believe that due to their relationship with casting directors who love their work, that you’re far more likely to be called in by one of these casting directors if you work with this photographer.

These types of relationships are a beautiful thing, but having your photo taken with a certain photographer is still no guarantee that your photo will be looked at for more than 1/2 a second like everyone else’s.

If you don’t look the part, you don’t look the part.

The photographer has been featured in the media.

The photographer has been on TV (so they must be good).

Photographers who have been on TV are proud of the fact, but they also use this “as seen on TV” as a way to make themselves look important or significant in the eyes of others.

The fact a photographer has been on TV is no guarantee that you’ll get better photographs or have a greater experience than working with a photographer who has not.

In the end, judge the photographer’s work, evaluate the costs, and choose the photographer you feel is best able to suit your individual needs.

The photographer highlights the fact that they’ve worked with celebrities.

The headshot photographer highlights the fact that they’ve worked with celebrities.

This is a marketing tactic intended to improve your perception of the photographer by impressing you with the fact they have photographed celebrities. Perhaps recently — or perhaps they are still promoting their brush with fame as far back as the 80’s or 90’s.

This is not in any way a guarantee that the photographs are good — so be sure to look beyond the celebrity and at the photographs themselves.

Many photographers who are in the business of working with VIPs and “high-end clients” do so almost exclusively. They are probably not shooting actor headshots for virtual unknowns — and if they are, then you can expect to pay a premium in the process.

The headshot photographer claims that their headshots will get you work.

Photographers like to use statements in their marketing that show you the benefits of working with them vs. others. While this is “Marketing 101”, not every claim being made is as straightforward as it first appears and it helps to understand when you are being manipulated.

What do actors want? To work.
How do actors get work? A headshot is most often an important part of the process.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to claim:

The photographer will provide headshots that will “get you work”.

This is sort of a trick statement. While it is possible that a great headshot will get you called in by a casting director, it is entirely up to you and your acting chops to seal the deal. A headshot alone will not get you work.

And even if you have a fantastic or flawless headshot that may get you called in for numerous auditions, if you don’t actually look like your headshot, that’s going to work against you.

The photographer will provide headshots that will “get your foot in the door”.

This is actually more accurate than the “will get you work” statement above, but still a little tricky. There’s really no guarantee that any headshot will ever get your foot in the door, but if you have a look a casting director feels is appropriate for a part, then it’s a good start.

The photographer claims that studio headshots are better than natural light headshots.

The photographer claims that studio headshots are better than natural light headshots (or vice versa).

Studio photography can provide some benefits over shooting in natural light, such as working in a strictly controlled environment (climate, lighting, background), but can also make all photographs in this environment appear very similar to each other — in a very cookie-cutter fashion.

Studio photography also allows you to schedule at times at which the weather or outdoor lighting are agreeable (such as at night). It also allows you to work through cold or rainy seasons. It’s also remarkably easy for a photographer to shoot studio headshots, because it ultimately takes very little effort. A few subtle lighting or backdrop changes to account for a client’s size or complexion are all you need.

When the location is the same shoot after shoot, clients practically become interchangeable. Yes, some photographers do have complicated lighting setups and also go through a fair amount of effort to make sure you have a relatively customized experience.

For a studio photographer who has developed a particular headshots style that people find appealing, that style becomes very easy to achieve because it’s been done in the same location using the same (or a very similar) lighting setup over and over again.

While natural light photography creates a few challenges that studio lighting does not, the results of such shoots can create very unique and dynamic shots.

The challenges of natural light photography include the environment, weather, and lighting. None of which are in complete control. Some environments are more stable than others, but weather and lighting change constantly. A good natural light photographer is able to use the resources he has available to get the results he (or she) wants.

Unlike a studio shoot, a natural light shoot is never the same thing twice. Each shoot is uniquely different depending upon the time of day, weather, location, temperature, and even the season.

Natural light is typically limited to daylight hours as there’s really not much light to work with at night, especially not the kind useful for taking actors’ headshots. And while you can add a flash to brighten up your subjects, this isn’t considered “natural” light.

The photographer claims to have a totally unique “process” to create headshots.

The photographer claims to have a totally unique “process” to create headshots.

While the photographer may have a totally unique process to create their headshots, it’s not rocket science. A headshot is a photo of a person’s head. Face forward (obviously not the back of the head!). It should be well-lit and be an accurate reflection of what the person truly looks like.

You don’t need a formula to take a great headshot. You simply need to know what makes a great headshot and be able to capture them with consistency.

The truth is, anyone with a decent camera can take a quality headshot. The trick is to be able to be able to create the type of environment where one can do so consistently.

This includes knowing exactly what an actor headshot is (vs. a model headshot), understanding lighting and composition, and being able to comfortably interact with and direct your subjects in order to make the best headshots shots possible.

The photographer claims that professionals are the only ones who can get your headshots done right.

Professional photographers are the only people who can get your headshots done right. Right?


It is entirely possible for anyone with a decent camera to capture a stunning headshot. Sometimes your “buddy with the camera” can get good shots, too. But in many cases, getting that shot will take a lot of time, patience, and a bit of luck.

Some people are just better at taking headshot photos — and those people are generally the professionals who make a living from doing so.

But if you’re hurting for headshots and you don’t have the money to pay a professional, then make the most of what you have — and if that’s a friend with a camera, so be it.

But keep in mind, many photographers offer specials or are willing to negotiate with clients in order to gain your business. While you may not have enough money to pay the average rate for headshots in your area, you might be able to negotiate a price that works for both you and your photographer.

Keep in mind when working with non-professionals, “people with cameras” who have little invested in their “photography business/hobby” don’t necessarily feel obliged to provide you with a level of service you can expect from someone whose professional life revolves around exactly what you’re looking for.