So, you’ve paid your rent, topped up your oyster and thanks to working every extra shift going, you have finally saved up the necessary cash to get your next (or possibly even your first) headshot. Or you thought you had, until you saw how much some photographers you’ve been recommended are charging. Well, here’s one headshot photographers guide to selecting a headshot photographer that’s right for you and your wallet…

Where do I start?

Google “London Headshots”. No, really. The top results won’t necessarily be the best (or most affordable) options for you, but it will give you an idea of what’s out there, how much things tend to cost and what’s included in different packages. You can expect to spend anything between £75 and £500 (no, really).

If you’re on CastingCallPro already, there is a good Photographers Directory in their Service Providers section, and if you’re fully paid up, you’ll be able to access some much-needed discounts from selected generous souls.

There’s also a new site called HeadshotHunter where you can search for photographers near you (by postcode), but don’t try using a generic “London” search, as the sheer volume of results will just overwhelm you.

Finally, if you’ve seen and like their photos, ask your friends if they’d recommend the photographer that took theirs.

How much should I pay?

Be realistic about your budget before you start. Don’t go above it because you feel pressure to do so, or because friends have spent a fortune. Spending £500 won’t guarantee you amazing headshots, nor (more crucially) does it guarantee you’ll get auditions at the end of it all. Yes, get the best images you can afford, but if you see a photographer you really like that’s way under your budget, don’t be put off.

My golden nugget of advice here is simple: you’ll need headshots again in a year or two (maybe less if your look changes dramatically), so remember that these images will have an expiry date. Based on how much you realistically expect to earn, calculate how much can you afford to spend per year on headshots. These are, after all, just another business expense. Yes, you’re a business, so you need to think like a business about your running costs (of which headshots are one of only a handful you should class as ‘essential’). Better to have regular updates than super-expensive images that you then can’t afford to replace for four or five years.

How do I know if the photographer is “good”?

This is the biggie. First of all decide what you like in a headshot by looking through a few portfolios online. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few potential photographers, it’s time to get detailed. Looking at a portfolio will only tell you so much, but if that’s all that’s available, there are a few things to ask/look out for:

– Do I like what the photographer has done (lighting/composition/mood), or am I simply falling for a photogenic face (or worse, a famous one)?
– Does the photographer capture less traditionally photogenic actors just as well?
– Are there any actors on there who have a similar look to me – what do I think of how they’ve been captured?
– Is there a discernible style? If so, do I like it? If not, am I confident I could steer the photographer towards the type of image I like?
– Are they all in sharp focus? Not overexposed (i.e. can I see detail in skin tone across the face without it ‘whiting out’)?

Where can I find reviews?

CastingCallPro has a good ‘Testimonial’ system, but beware – photographers can choose to keep bad reviews from public view. That said, it’s the best indicator I’ve found online so far. In particular, look for mentions of the photographer’s temperament, professionalism and ability to make the experience relaxed. No amount of looking at their images can tell you this stuff, and believe me, it’s as important as their ability to light, compose and process.

And listen to friends’ recommendations – they’ve been in the room and know the score. If you like the results, and can afford the price tag, you’d be mad to pass it up.

Good luck!

Originally posted on www.stageshots.london