Headshots:  FAQ

Who are you?
What do I need to know?
What makes you different from other headshot photographers?
Why should I hire you?
How much do headshots cost?
How much do reprints cost?
Where do you shoot?
Will you shoot on location?
What should I wear?
What else should I bring?
Should I shave for my headshots?
Black and White or color?
Make up
Tips for great headshots
My check off list for the day of your headshots.  Download the PDF.  Right click and 'save as'.

Who are you?

I'm a photographer and a performer.  I have a degree in Fine Arts, majoring in photography, from Columbia College.  I interned at Playboy before graduation.
I love to be on stage, and I'm obsessed with long form improv.  You can read more about me here.
Since I'm a performer, I know what it feels like to hand your headshot over to that person with the blank expression, who staples it, points you to an empty seat, and asks you to wait as your tummy does back flips.  I've auditioned at least 20 times.   I feel your pain.

What do I need to know?

Start by asking the question:  what do I want these photos for?
Are you trying to get commercials?   Do you want photos for dramatic theater?  Are you a stand-up comic?
Ideally, any photo that you take will cover all of those categories.  But be realistic.  What you are doing is marketing yourself.  The basic rule of marketing is to know your customer and to know the product that you are selling.   The product, in this case, is you.

Your photos should reflect what you want to do, and who you are.

A friend of mine used to audition for everything.  Not only parts that she wasn't right for, but things that she didn't want.   She would literally audition for parts that called for someone of a different nationality.
After sitting down with an audition coach, she realized that she should put that same energy into auditioning less, but for the parts that were right for her.

I'm not suggesting that actors shouldn't stretch their talents, or audition for everything that they are right for.  I'm suggesting, strongly, to go with your strengths.
In order to market yourself correctly - before you meet with a photographer - decide what you want to do.  Talk to your directors, coaches, instructors, and agents.  What is your "type"?
Again, I'm not saying that you must go with what they say.  I am asking you to recognize what you want to do.
Its the first question that any decent photographer will ask you.

I ask every client to find copies of headshots that they like, and headshots that they don't like.  I ask them to bring them when we meet, and tell me what they like.  More importantly, I want to know what you don't like.
When a client comes for their photograph, I ask them for three adjectives describing the image that they want their photo to project.  Here are some examples:  intelligent, goofy, sexy, professional, intense, broad, charming, insane, funny, serious, confident, etc.
It helps me to understand what you want directors and casting agencies to see in you.

What makes you different from other headshot photographers?

I don't give kickbacks to agencies for recommending me.  (Yes, this happens.)    I won't pressure a client to be photographed in a style that I think is right for them, when they want something else.  I don't charge for reprints, I simply hand you the CD of photos.  I'm not interested in "nickel and diming" you to death.
I charge a flat fee, and I don't offer packages to try to get my clients to spend more money.
I will not sell your image to someone without your permission.

I don't ask for my payment until my client is satisfied with my photos.
I realized early on the hardest part of taking headshots: getting a performer to relax in front of a camera when they knew how much money they were spending for my time.
Since I'm not taking the money up front, the pressure is on me to perform.  Not you.
This simple business practice makes my clients more relaxed, and gives me the photos that we both want.

Because of this, I require everyone that I photograph to meet with me ahead of time.  It gives me a chance to find your personality before you stand in front of my lights.

There are a lot of good photographers out there.  I believe that my best selling point is that once you get to know me, you'll trust me.  -And once you trust me?  Taking your photo is a thousand times easier.

How much do headshots cost?

I currently charge $250 for one basic session.  That includes up to 100 images before editing, which I burn to a CD or DVD upon payment.
I also offer a discount of $25 if you and a friend shoot on the same day.  Call me for more details.

If you want to shoot a composite for modeling, I charge $500.  E-mail me for more information.

I am considered very inexpensive for a headshot photographer.  Hire me while I'm accessible.

I highly recommend a stylist for makeup and hair, which is a separate charge and independent from me.  Payment is required for the stylist up front and is paid directly to them. The cost depends on which artist you use.  You can e-mail or call me for quotes from stylists, but a typical cost would be $75 for makeup, and $150 for hair and makeup.  I currently work with Georgia Jacobs and Monique Madrid, and Brie.  They do not give kickbacks to me, but do a great job and make it easy for me to do mine.

I don't charge for reprints.  Once I've burned you a CD, its yours to keep.  I do retain the copyright, however.  What that means is that you cannot use the photo I've taken for commercial purposes.  You can, of course, use it for anything that you'd normally use a headshot for.

I normally retouch one photo for each client from the headshots we've taken.  Any additional retouching is $25 an image.

Where do you shoot?

I shoot most of my headshots in a studio space in my apartment.  Its very casual.  I live on the Northwest side of Chicago in an area known as "Old Irving", near Irving and Kedzie.  When its nice outdoors, I like to roam outside for photos in the nearby park.  If you have an idea for somewhere you want to shoot, and you have permission from whoever ows the location, try me.  I'm usually up for the challenge.

I have two wonderful cats, Chris and Lewis.  I hide them before most shoots because they always want to be in the photos.  I use a HEPA filter.  But if you are heavily allergic to kitties, we should shoot outdoors or on location.

I love shooting on location, and I'll try to find a way under certain circumstances.  For instance, if you have an ideal location that you'd love to shoot at - or you've lined up more then one person to shoot at a remote location - talk to me.  But make sure you have permission to shoot there, first.

What should I wear?

A lot of this depends on what your type is, but the basics are almost always the same.

Should I shave for my headshots?

A lot of men with beards ask me this, and its hard to give a simple yes or no answer.
What is your type?  Does your beard change your look dramatically?  Would it be going against your type to shave?
In my opinion, it really varies from person to person depending on their goals, their look, and who they're trying to impress.  It never hurts to ask them, the person you are trying to impress, what they think you should do.  I can only give you an opinion on what looks good on you.  Quite often, that's different from what a director might see in you.

What else should I bring?

Music that you like on a CD, or an ipod.
A hairbrush, comb, and toothbrush.
Make-up if you insist on doing your own.  Bring more then one color of lipstick then one, please.

Black and White or color?

The current trend is towards color.
Its a reflection on how agencies are hiring.  Agencies are now responsible for an entire look, and unless they are doing a black and white campaign, they want to see every detail of you in color.

Tips for great headshots