Choosing a professional headshot photographer: 5 top tips

Choosing a professional headshot photographer: 5 top tips

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 make 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.

A professional portrait of a young Indian businessman sitting down and smiling wearing a suit

Choosing the right photographer for your needs is essential.

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.

Choosing a professional photographer

Many creatives want not-too-formal portraits that show their personality.

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.

A portrait of a young professional Indian woman wearing a white and black dress smiling

We always recommend working with a specialist headshot photographer.

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 portrait of a young south american professional woman wearing a blue suit and smiling

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.