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15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Professional Headshots

In the age of digital presence and professional networking, the significance of a captivating headshot cannot be overstated. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your career journey, investing in a professional headshot is a crucial step towards making a lasting impression. To help demystify the process, I’ve compiled the fifteen most frequently asked questions about getting professional headshots done.

How much do professional headshots cost?

Like most professional services, costs vary based on factors like the photographer’s expertise, location, equipment, studio and the inclusion of additional services. It’s best to start with looking at several photographers portfolios as even the most expensive photographer’s headshots will be an excellent investment yielding great returns for you. It’s best to avoid packages with headshots and pay for the photo session separately and the retouching for only the headshots you love and will use. Photo sessions can range in pricing from $200 – $1500 depending on location, experience etc.  

Why are professional headshots important for my business or career?

In a world dominated by online interactions, your headshot is often the first impression you make on potential employers, clients, or colleagues. A professionally photographed and retouched headshot conveys professionalism, confidence, approachability, and attention to detail, setting the tone for your personal brand.

When is the right time to update my headshot?

Regular updates are essential to ensure your headshot accurately reflects your current appearance and professional image. I advise updating your headshot after significant career milestones, changes in appearance, or every 2-3 years to keep your professional profiles fresh. 

What kind of backdrop should I use for my LinkedIn headshot and professional photos?  

Usually a simple backdrop, with some texture and a color that will compliment you, your wardrobe and bring the viewer to focus on you. An experienced, well established photo studio will have lost of background options and can quickly arise you on backdrops that will keep you on brand and looking your best. 

Also Read: Reasons Why You Need Professional Headshots For LinkedIn

What should I wear for a professional headshot?

It’s important to choose clothing that aligns with your industry and the image you want to project. Solid colors, subtle patterns, and accessories that complement your style can add a touch of personality while maintaining a polished look. At Cottrell Photographers we offer help with wardrobe selection and also have a free “What to Wear” guide available for our clients.

Read More: What to Wear for Headshots

How can I prepare for a professional headshot session?

For men, I suggest getting a haircut and beard trim 2-3 days prior to your photo session. For women, if you try a new hairstyle, color or makeup make sure to try any new looks well before our your photo session to allow for adjustments if necessary. 

Try to avoid greasy foods the week leading up to your photo session. The day before drink lots of water and get a good nights sleep as this will help reduce fine lines and give you a healthier complexion.

Natural light or studio lighting: which is better for headshots?

In studio or outdoors a great question! Both outdoors in natural light or near a large window with natural light coming in and in-studio photos have their merits. Consider factors such as the desired atmosphere, your industry, weather, your brand etc. Plus, always book an experienced Professional Headshot photographer who can help you make the right decision.

What’s the ideal headshot composition?

An experienced professional headshot photographer will be able to expertly retouch and also crop your headshot to a complementary composition. As general rule of thumb at Cottrell Photographers we like to make sure our clients face is in full view and then have the viewers focus be right to the subjects eyes, then their smile. The most important thing with composition is the headshot has to be visually appealing and easy for the viewer to connect with and remember.  

How can I make my headshots stand out on social media?

Some would say “Optimize your headshot for each platform’s specifications, ensuring it stands out” which to a certain extent is true, but if you have a poorly shot, retouched and composed headshot all the optimization the world is not going to make it appealing. 

To make a headshot or personal brand photo stand out on social media make sure you have a professionally shot, lit and expertly retouched photo. An attractive photo will always get more attention, engagement and follows than a poor quality one.

Also Read: Personal Branding – How to Effectively Build Trust

Can I use a smartphone for professional headshots?

We love our smartphones! And while they have advanced camera capabilities, professional headshots often require specialized equipment, like high resolution mirrorless digital cameras, lighting in addition to experience and and retouching expertise. It’s often best to invest in an experienced professional photographer to ensure the highest quality results. In most cases it takes an experienced, detail oriented, creative professional photographer who can create the most flattering looks for you

How can I find a reputable professional headshot photographer near me?

There are lots of ways to find the right photographer for you. Online searches like Google, ask friends and colleagues and also LinkedIn is a great resource. Once you have a list of experienced, reputable professional headshot photographers in our area, first check their reviews, then look closely at the photographers portfolio of work and their reviews. Lastly, if you are unsure schedule a phone of video call with the photographer to ask your questions. 

 How quickly can I get my new headshots?

This a great question and the only way I know how to answer it is by my experience at Cottrell Photographers where our policy is to have your new photos to you within 72 hours of the photo session. That said, I’ve heard of studios taking three weeks or more and ones that promise delivery of new images in an hour, they rarely deliver I’m told, with Cottrell Photographers it’s 3 business days! 

Can you retouch my photos?

Stuff happens and often we get pimples or blotchy skin etc the day of the photo session which will require expert retouching or editing. Retouching should be done to the extent that when someone views your new photos they won’t be able to tell if the image was retouched. Removing blemishes, fly away hair, brightening and softening skin, reducing wrinkles and Fien lines, brightening your eyes and shaping the face/body to look natural is all part of our in-house photo retouching service. 

What should I be asking a photographer before booking a session?

Once you have contacted a photographer you may want to ask a few questions like: 

• How long have you been a professional headshot photographer?

• What’s your availability?

• Who does your image retouching?

• Do you have any professional certifications? 

• Will you guarantee your work? 

• Do you have a professional headshot contract for your clients? 

 How long does a professional headshot photo session take?

Typically we see the average time being around an hour. However sometimes sessions can run longer, or shorter, depending on the number of looks and the complexity of the set up. Allowing up to 90 minutes to get all the headshots and personal branding photos is usually sufficient to accomplish everything. 

A Compelling Headshot is More Than Just a Photo…

At the end of the day investing in professional headshots is a strategic move for anyone navigating today’s competitive professional landscape. By addressing these frequently asked questions, you can confidently approach the process, making informed decisions that align with your career, business goals or personal brand. Remember, a compelling headshot is more than just a photo – it’s a powerful tool for opening doors and leaving a lasting impression.

– Chris Cottrell, Professional Headshot Photographer

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Successful headshot & branding photography

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