Tips for Choosing a Best Photographer
1. A great place to start is with your peers. Look at the headshots belonging to your various friends, classmates, or colleagues, and then ask them for recommendations. Keep an eye out at auditions, too; naturally, there’ll be loads of headshots to see in an audition waiting room, and most fellow actors would be flattered if you complimented their headshot, and happy to help if you asked for the name of their photographer. If you still need more photographer options, a quick Google search ought to yield more results than you know what to do with.
2. Choose a photographer you’re comfortable with. In contacting a photographer to inquire about his or her services, you are doing more than simply seeking out the best price, or even the best-looking portfolio. When it comes to selecting a photographer to shoot your headshots, it is just as important that you are picking someone with whom you feel good, comfortable, and at ease. Trust me on this! You can be totally in love with the photos in a certain photographer’s portfolio . . . but if you feel uneasy around this person, it will show in your headshots! And all the beautiful composition or stunning catchlights or even skilled retouching in the world will not totally fix a photo in which you look tense, frustrated, on edge, or any of the other things that will read on your face if you are stuck in a room with someone who gets on your nerves or makes you feel uncomfortable. So what do you do instead? Pick the photographer who makes you feel relaxed. Best case scenario (and I’ve personally encountered this many times, so it’s not impossible to find!) is that you work with a photographer who makes you feel like the two of you are old friends. Not only does this take the edge off any anxiety you may be experiencing on shoot day, but it goes a very long way toward helping to capture the essence of your personality when you are feeling calm, relaxed, and open- all things that make you appealing to the people who will eventually be viewing these headshots and, hopefully, hiring you!
3. Always assume that your photo will look as good as the worst photo in the portfolio. This may sound unnecessarily negative or harsh, but remember that, like everyone else, the photographer is trying to present himself and his work in the best possible light. The photos that you are viewing are the best of the best, and hand-picked to show off the photographer’s highest quality work and to attract more business. A skilled photographer will be turning out excellent headshots on average; in contrast, steer clear of the portfolio with a bunch of mediocre photos, and one or two that really stand out. No matter how much you like those two great photos, the odds are high that your headshots will end up looking more like the former, so-so majority.
4. Make sure that you find out the pricing structure on everything. Not every headshot photographer prices things the same way: some charge per hour, others per “look” (clothing, hair, and/or location change). Some include basic retouching in the headshot fee, others charge extra. Some will hand you a disk of your photos before you walk out the door on the day of the shoot, others have them ready for you in 1-2 weeks time. These are all things you want to know up front, and ideally, to have in writing. This will help you to most effectively weigh and compare your options among different photographers, and it will also save you from an unpleasant surprise when you encounter an unexpected—and unbudgeted for—expense down the road.