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.