Headshot Package Info

The Headshot Session
Full actor headshot session – (2.5 hrs) - $300
                                                                  $250 FOR STUDENTS

First here’s a bit about me:

I am not just a photographer who does headshots.  I am also a card carrying actor working in the industry.  I have been hitting the same pavement, walking into the same audition rooms, and encountering the same casting directors as you have.  The struggle is real, and I am right in there with you.

I also know how important having brilliant headshots is to an actor's career, and so I have learned how to take the absolute best, industry standard headshots possible.  My shots can go toe to toe with the top photographers in Los Angeles and New York.  (Seriously, we all have a Facebook Group, and we share and critique each others work all the time.)

I have always tried to price myself as cheaply as possible, because as I said I am also and actor and the struggle, oh she's real.  Most guys at this level who shoot the package I offer charge double my rates.  My prices keep me busy, so look to book at least two weeks in advance.

How the Headshot Session works:

Headshots are about connection, presence, and relaxation.  We keep the session super laid back.  I book in 2.5 hour blocks, so there is never a rush.  We shoot until we’re done.  I’ve never counted clicks, nor have I ever counted “looks”.  If you are planning a massive appearance change (mid-session facial hair shave, or curly vs. straight hair, etc.), we should plan it in advance.  Otherwise it only takes a minute to change a shirt and fix your hair, right?

In my experience, most sessions finish around the 1:40 mark, so the standard session length gives plenty of time.

Location choice is ultimately up to you.  I have an indoor studio that utilizes strobes and natural light, and I am in a beautiful part of Santa Monica with amazing light throughout the day.  I will generally utilize both environments in a single shoot, but for those who don’t like the idea of shooting in public, or for those who get itchy just thinking about a studio, don’t worry.  I got you covered.

I take post production very seriously, and stay consistently up to date with best practices regarding retouching.  To begin I’ll go through every photo and eliminate all the unacceptable shots (blinks, soft focus, awkward expressions, etc.).  I’ll then optimize ALL of the remaining photos to bring out their most beautiful color, exposure, and tone.  I then upload them to an unlisted gallery where you can choose your favorites, and narrow down your options.  I do an advanced, by-hand retouching on a couple of your favorites, and give you access to all full-resolution files.  ALL OF THEM.

This is important, because at some point you might encounter a role and realize you have the perfect picture to submit for it, a picture you may have overlooked the first time around..  You will be able to go back to your gallery and retrieve the full resolution file for that image, and because of the optimization work I do at the front-end, it will be perfectly usable for that audition!

I don’t keep the digital negatives to myself, nor do I force you to print your shots through my services.  You are welcome to do so, but that’s not my focus.  I am a photographer, not a printer.

What do I wear?  What about make-up?

In general, just try to imagine what you’d wear to an audition, and do that.  Anything that regularly makes people say “that brings out your eyes,” bring that.   You want to feel great in what you’re wearing, so bring your favorites.  I have an iron and steamer on-site should we need to get the wrinkles out.

Also in general, it’s better to be too simple than too busy.  A headshot session is all about the eyes, not the accessories.  But if it makes you feel great, bring it.

Men, you really don’t need makeup, but bring powder if you have it.

Women, don’t go heavier on makeup than you would at an audition (specifically don’t overdo the eye shadow or cheek rouge).

If you would like to bring a stylist, feel free.  Additionally I can refer you to several if you’d like.

Finally I keep the mother of all make-up artists on-site, and her name is Photoshop.  Old school photographers may cringe, but we are most certainly in the 21st Century now.  You don’t need to know what high-pass sharpening or frequency separation is when it comes to digital retouching, but I do.  And I’ll use them, along with every other tool in my arsenal to deliver top quality, non-destructive touch ups that make you look your best, without making you look any less like 100% natural YOU.

Is there anything else that I should bring?

Yes!  A calm, open, relaxed attitude.  We want you to be as comfortable as possible, free from the stress of the rest of your day.  If there’s music that will set the mood for you, my bluetooth speaker is at your command.  If you know it’s gonna take a glass of wine to loosen up, bring a bottle!  (I may join you.)  Your puppy is welcome to join us too if that’s what warms you.

Pick your clothes the night before.  Give yourself plenty of time to get here, and know that no matter what we will not rush your session.  This is about you looking great, and if you don’t feel great then remedying that will be top priority.

These are all great tips, but I think my neighbor is getting into headshot photography, soooo...

No problem!  Glad to help fellow actors in any way I can.  If you find a better deal, I ain't mad at you.  BUT, as you search your local area for a good headshot photographer, here are some things to keep in mind while trying to decide if that “headshot photographer” really knows headshots.

1.  Too much retouching
This one is huge.  And frankly, it’s the most frequent mistake of non-headshot photographers who attempt to do “Actor Headshots”.  This is not a glamour shot.  It’s not even a model comp shot.  Sure, we all want to look pretty.  But if you don’t LOOK LIKE YOUR HEADSHOT, you will (speaking very frankly) royally piss off whoever is doing the casting.  If they called you in to this audition based on your headshot, you have just wasted their time.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Some retouching is OK.  Anything temporary can be eliminated (blemishes, scratches, etc…).  A good headshot retouch makes the lines in your face less noticeable without eliminating them entirely.

Bottom line:  If you look like an other-worldly goddess without a single line on your face in your headshot, you better be prepared to somehow have zero lines on your face at the audition.

Don’t feel bashful about asking to see high resolution headshots in their portfolio.  A shot that looks great as a small thumbnail on a website, can often reveal bad post processing techniques when you look at a larger version.  Look for things like blurry eyes, strange skintones, over-use of Noise Reduction (manifests in a mush of pixels that resembles a watercolor painting when looking closely).  Many of these things will not be noticeable at low resolution on the web, but once you get that shot printed as a high-res 8×10, you’ll definitely notice.

2. Non-headshot composition, or too much distraction from your face
This is another frequent mistake made by general photographers.  A headshot is not a senior portrait in the urban core, or a family session in the park.  It’s also not a Lifestyle shoot for a modeling portfolio.  All of those styles of photography have their place, but that place is not a stack of photos sitting on a casting director’s desk.  If you’re in need of an actor headshot, you want them to connect with your eyes.  Period.  You want them to be intrigued by YOU.  Drawn to YOU.  You don’t want that casting director to say to him/herself “Oh my, what a lovely sunset.” “I wonder if that’s the café downtown where we had lunch last week.” ”Holy cow, look at that gorgeous background.”  At no point in the last 10 years have “environmental headshots” become the standard for working actors.  The standard is, very simply, YOUR FACE.  That’s what they want to see (as they’re flipping quickly through a stack of hundreds), and that’s what you need to give them.

3. Overly strict session limits
Sometimes you hit gold in the first few clicks, but sometimes it takes a while.  If this is the shot you’ll be relying on to get jobs, you want to be sure that you get the best possible shot, and the best way to ensure that will happen, is to get a ton of options.  You want a huge well to draw from.  If their portfolio speaks for itself, a strict session limit can be OK – they’ll probably know how to guide you to the right pose and the right facial expression quickly.  If you’re on the fence as to whether or not they know what they’re doing, be wary.  If there’s any question, ask to see what they’re getting as they shoot. 

4. They’re a good photographer, but have no experience with “headshots”
Lets face it.  Someone can be an AMAZING photographer, but know nothing about what makes a good “headshot”.  If it’s a friend, who’s just starting out in photography and offering to do it for free, LUCKY YOU!  Give them a shot, let them know what you want, show them some great example headshots, and see what they can do.  If they’re trying to charge you an arm and a leg, and have no good ”actor headshots” in their portfolio, run away.

5.  Restricted access to your shots
Some photographers try and make recurring income off their clients by controlling the digital negatives from their sessions.  To order prints, get additional touch ups, or even access the rest of their shoot, some photographers charge hefty fees for basic services.  Make sure you are clear on what your final headshot package will be, and whether you will be able to have full-resolution copies of your shoot.