The head shot; probably one of the oldest forms of portraiture; is usually the first impression that someone sees today in the virtual world when meeting someone for the first time. Professional and personal social media avenues all use a head shot. Modeling websites, dating apps, job boards, and many other places all want an avatar head shot. So when was the last one you’ve had a head shot session? Hopefully within the past two years. One to two years tend to be the ideal passage for updating a head shot. You don’t want to ever “surprise” someone by being 10-20 years older than your head shot.
The main types of head shots you will come across are:
Industrial/Executive. Usually used for professional social media places or industry articles. These could be a simple background or environmental depending on the role of the subject.
Commercial. There are many areas where the Industrial/Commercial overlap, but the big thing to keep in mind is the overall use/intent of the head shot. Commercial Headshots are usually geared towards talent in an effort to booking projects. The Commercial head shot is usually a very clean background with minimal distractions from the subject.
Theatrical/Cinematic. Once again, geared towards performance talent, but does not have to be limited to an actor, this type of headshot is intended to show personality range.
Glamour/Beauty/Pageant. These type of headshots are usually more heavily retouched and intended to be aesthetically flawless. This is becoming less common outside of the pageant industry.
Persona/Fine-art. This is more of an embodiment of the subject. This headshot should be your “signature” shot or “the one.” As such, the investment for this type of portraiture tends to be more significant than the others.
How Much Should I Pay For a Great Head Shot?
This is the question that I get asked often…well that and how much do I charge? The reality is that head shots are one of those parts of photography, that you usually get what you pay for. The range can be as low as $25 and well over $1,000 for a head shot session. Whether it is great, good, or good enough, is going to be up to you to decide, but my guidance is that a good entry point for a head shot session is around $150. Your ideal sessions will probably be in the neighborhood of $200-600 depending on time, and the number of different looks that you would use for the session. For refreshing and updating looks, 1-2 looks would work fine, but your individual case might need more.
#Protip: If your decision is based primarily on budget constraints, let your photographer know that. Many photographers have micro/mini sessions for headshots that limit time/looks but provide the same quality.
In studio or outside?
This is also another question that is asked a lot. It is up to you. Studio/indoors is always a favorite of mine, because simply, you are not subject to the elements.
Indoors is also ideal for large groups who will need head shots. The setup tends to be static allowing for a higher volume of photos to be captured.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with capturing a session outside. The changing dynamics outside often allows for different lighting patterns and effects to be captured on the fly and no two sessions are alike!
How long should a session take?
Ideally, you want to allow for warm-up time. Some sessions the subject only has less than five minutes in front of camera, others, you might have up to two hours of camera time. The answer depends on how long it takes to capture what you are looking for.
The great thing about a longer session is that it will often give you the opportunity to not only change looks, but also change your environment.
What is one thing to remember?
Disclaimer: All images posted are unedited and presented as shot with exception of color, crop, and exposures.