Choosing a professional headshot photographer: 5 top tips

Choosing a professional headshot photographer: 5 top tips
November 16, 2018 Danny
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Read these tried and tested techniques for finding the perfect headshot photographer

Choosing a professional headshot photographer can be a daunting business. Sure, when you google “portrait photographers near me” plenty of options pop up. But how do you know if they’re any good and, even more importantly, if they’re the right photographer for you.

The right photographer can makes the difference between a great set of headshots and a headshot that’s just meh.

A great professional will make you feel comfortable, relaxed and confident. The wrong photographer will make you tense up, transmitting negative energy through the camera lens.

So you need to choose your photographer carefully. Luckily, there are some tried and tested techniques that first-time headshotters can apply when looking for their perfect photographer. Here are our top five tips on choosing a headshot photographer that works for you.

Check out their previous work

Any photographer worth their salt will have an extensive portfolio for you to look at. Go through their website and make sure that they’re experienced taking the kind of shot that you’re looking for.

If you want a casual creative headshot taken on location but they only include studio work in their portfolio, they’re probably not the right person for you.

If you’re not sure exactly what kind of look your going for (a lot of people aren’t), then get inspired looking at the photographers previous work.

Pick out effects you like and explain that to them when you get in touch. A good photographer will listen to your ideas and make a moodboard or lookbook of similar shots to make sure they’ve understood.

a professional headshot photographer can take great candid images

 A candid and contemporary portrait perfectly compliments more traditional portraits.

Choose someone who focuses only or mainly on headshots.

There are many, many different types of photographers out there, from fashion photographers to food photographers. You need to choose one that focuses on headshots.

After all, making a burrito look Instagram-ready isn’t the same as making you look promotion-ready.

Taking headshots is an art all of its own. Shots have to be industry standard, expertly rendered and handled with experience. A do-it-all photographer is not going to to give you the same result as one with years of headshot experience to their name.

Read reviews carefully

Reviews and testimonials are the clincher for many people when picking a photographer. Reading up on what previous clients have said is the best way to find out what to expect from an individual photographer and from the results they produce.

What should you be on the lookout for in the reviews? We recommend focusing on comments about communication with the photographer prior to the shoot, how they act while on a shoot and how attentively they carry out editing and follow up.

Remember, you’re not only looking out for negative reviews; you should also be aware of any positive reviews that just don’t fit in with what you want.

For example, a reviewer could say they photographer is high energy on a shoot when you want a relaxed vibe. Choosing a headshot photographer is a personal business so don’t be afraid to go with your gut.

a casual portrait taken by professional headshot photographers in barcelona

Communication is key: Make sure your headshot photographer knows exactly what you want before your portrait session.

Communicate pre-shoot. A lot.

Once you’ve gone through the previous steps you should be ready to get in touch with one or more potential candidates.

Our best tip – phone them, don’t email. Why? Because chatting on the phone, even for a few minutes, will give you much more information about who the photographer is and how they deal with people. If you don’t feel comfortable during a 5 minute phone call you certainly won’t feel comfortable on a shoot with them.

If the photographer is local (always a plus) you could even do an in-person consultation if they have time. Use this meeting to agree on the mood of the headshots, as well as more concrete details such as what to wear and location. The photographer should guide you with their experience while listening to what you want.

Agree on pricing and make sure you’re happy

Before agreeing to work with a photographer, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for. Is a make-up session included in the price or is it extra? Additional images, high-res JPGs, outdoor locations… knowing what you’re paying for is basic.

Retratos offer a range of packages to our clients – find out more here.

How to choose a professional headshot photographer – that’s a wrap

Having headshots taken needn’t be a stressful experience. The right photographer will make you feel comfortable and will use their experience to bring out the best in you. Follow our five steps and you’ll end up working with a real professional.


  1. Gary Puntman 4 years ago

    I agree that you should check out the photographer’s previous work. That will help you see what kind of quality they do. You want to make sure their style is what you want to go for, like you mentioned. The location of the photo shoot will also influence your decision.

  2. Erika Brady 3 years ago

    Thanks for the tip to check out the portfolio of photographers you’re considering by visiting their website to determine if they can take the kind of business headshot you’re looking for. Their website should also provide other useful information, such as their rates and their availability. Finding a photographer that is available to work with your schedule would be important to ensure you can make an appointment that you’re able to make in order to get the headshots you want.

  3. Brooklyn Johnson 3 years ago

    I like how you stated that a great professional photographer will make you feel comfortable, relaxed and confident. I am looking into modeling, and I need to get professional headshots, but don’t know what photographer to hire. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind when trying to find the perfect photographer to take my headshots.

  4. Glenn Walke 3 years ago

    My wife and I have been talking about getting family pictures, and it would be important for us to know that we could find a photographer who has a style that we will love. I appreciate that you mentioned that you should check the previous work of a photographer before you would hire them. If we decide to get the pictures done this fall, I will be sure to check their past works before we would hire them, so we could be confident that we will like to hire them.

  5. Eli Richardson 3 years ago

    I appreciate that you mentioned that one should check the previous work of a cameraman before hiring them. One of my brothers needs to hire a photographer for a senior portrait session. This post will give him a good idea of what to look for in a professional cameraman.

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