You would like to get new headshots taken but there are so many photographers out there – how do you choose?
Photography is very personal. What you may like the look of will differ from someone else. You may favor one headshot style over another or you might feel you ‘click’ with someone more.
When choosing a photographer, it’s important to consider what kind of photos you would like and that you like the person you are working with. Headshot photographs are an investment. You will be using them for your business profiles, social media and for external coverage of you and your business. It’s essential that you are happy with them!
Here are seven key things to look at when choosing a photographer
Take a look at the photographer’s portfolio
Every photographer will have a portfolio and most nowadays will have their pictures on a website. Take time to do your research and take a look at their work. Ask yourself what you think of it. Do you think it’s good? Someone may have been recommended to you but if you don’t like what you see, you’re probably not going to be happy with your own photos.
Check out their website and their social media. Does their style match up with your style? Does the work resemble what kind of work you would want? Are they focusing their energy on the specific type of photography that you want? You want somebody who knows exactly what they’re doing and can dedicate their time and energy to giving you the product that you want.
Have a conversation
Talk to them! Do you click when you meet? See if you match up with their personality because at the end of the day you’re going to engage their services and their personality to get you the images that you want. If you click and you think both of you are people will work well together, then fantastic. That’s awesome!
If there’s a vibe where you know you are going to get something amazing out of the experience, your investment is going to be well worth your time. If you can’t meet them in person for a coffee, then try a video chat with them. It’s easy to hop on Skype or Facebook Messenger. Don’t just choose one person to talk to. Queue up a couple of different people to speak with so you can make a considered judgment on who you like.
Do they have testimonials? Have they got feedback from other clients that they’ve worked with on their website or can you check their Facebook and see if they’ve got reviews? What are the reviews like? Do they express happiness, are they bad? You can take that as a good indication of what kind of work people have done with them and how they felt.
How much will it cost?
Are they upfront with their prices? Are they transparent with the costs? Do you know exactly what you’re getting from them? Packages vary and every photographer will have a different way of working. Some will charge for a project, others will give you a certain number of images, or you may be charged on the basis of how long they are there for. Don’t forget the cost of your photos is not just down to the moment they press the shutter and take your image. You are paying for their knowledge and experience, processing, and equipment as well as an experience. How often do you get to be a model?
Make sure you know what’s included and there aren’t any hidden costs. No-one wants to get an unwanted surprise later down the line. That’s not an enjoyable experience.
What happens if I lose my photographs?
We’re down to the practicalities of your working arrangement now. You’ve taken a look at the photographer’s work, you’ve had a chat and decided you would like to work with them. But before you go ahead and book them, you need to think about issues you might encounter along the way.
What would you do if you lost your photos? You’ve invested time and money in having great profile photos done, you want to know you will have access to them. What would happen if you didn’t save them in the right place or your hard drive/storage device got corrupted? Where do you go from there? You need to ask your photographer what kind of storage they look to use.
Give you an example of my practices, I use a cloud storage system so everything is on the web but I also back everything up on external hard drives. I usually keep it for quite a long time because I want to be able to have that kind of flexibility. You need to know from your photographer that if you need to get an image from them for something like a press release or an interview you need to sort out, they’re there.
What about copyright on your images?
What can you use your photos for? You might think that because they are images of you which you have paid for that they belong to you but that is not necessarily the case.
Make sure your photographer has explained the copyright and licenses relating to your photo shoot to you. The photographer owns the copyright, it’s their work. What the photographer will do is give you a license to use them.
A license to use is an agreement between the photographer and the client to say: “I own the images, but I license you to use them for X number of years for international, for Europe, for the UK, but I will still retain the copyright, but you use them however you’ve agreed within that license of use ”. The photographer will use the images for their personal promotion for marketing, print, and social media and as examples of work they have done for prospective clients. Be sure you know what is going to happen to your photos and that you are happy with that.
Are they insured?
Do they have public liability insurance or professional indemnity insurance? Now, this is specifically if you are looking at maybe doing a shoot on location. You want to make sure that they have that insurance to cover you in the event of any kind of accidents or if anything happens during that shoot. It’s a very straight-forward question. If they get a little bit antsy or weird when asking about this then that’s a bit of a red flag.
Choosing a photographer is subjective. What matters to you may not be important to somebody else. You need to choose the person to work with who is right for you. Who understands you and what you are looking for. Someone you will feel comfortable with when you’re trying to act naturally in front of the camera.
Jemima Willcox is a personal brand portrait photographer based in Cambridge, UK.