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What is Headshot Photography?

A headshot is a photograph of a person’s head and shoulders, with an emphasis on the person’s face. Some headshots – called three-quarter shots – include as much as ¾ of the person’s body. Actors and models most frequently need headshots. However, other professionals from star athletes to business owners sometimes need a photograph designed to market their personality. Sometimes headshots appear on business cards or are included with a professional resume.

Headshot photo sessions usually are held in the photographer’s studio, but can also be at a location of the client’s choice. For example, business headshots might be shot at a corporate meeting or conference. It is important to define your need and the specific use for the headshot to make sure the portrait meets your requirements. Modeling, acting, and professional headshots all have different looks.

Until recently, black and white glossy prints were the standard for models and actors, but headshots are now often in color. Printed modeling headshots are typically 9”x12” and acting headshots 8”x10”. The photographer must also consider the venue where the headshot is to appear – a Facebook and LinkedIn headshot both have very specific appearances.

To be successful, a headshot has two goals: provide an accurate representation of what a you really look like, and create a relationship between the you and the person who is seeing your photograph by portraying your personality and character. For these goals to be met, remember to ask questions, making sure the photographer understands your needs, verify their professionalism, and communicate the planned use of your headshot.

by SmartShoot
Charles Le

Tips for Headshot Photography


Work your angles

Make sure you discuss your needs with the photographer and let them know if you have a “good side” or features you wish to accentuate or downplay.


Simple make-up

Make sure your makeup is clean and natural. Wear whatever makeup you usually wear. If you are a male, consider using glare-reducing translucent powder.


Tell your photographer how you'll use your headshots

Let your photographer know the purpose for the headshot. Commercial modeling headshots emphasize likability and smiles; theatrical headshots are more serious; and a professional headshot needs to look “professional.”


Avoid distractions

Stay away from busy backgrounds, and don't wear any clothing with loud patterns or designs. Dress in clothing that makes you feel comfortable while you're moving around in it.

By Les Henig

How much does Headshot Photography Cost?

Pricing for headshots varies considerably based upon location, the options you specify, the number of photos you require, and the experience of the photographer. If you need a number of different shots, wardrobe changes, or need to hire a stylist or make-up artist, the price will go up with each addition. Some photographers charge an hourly fee. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $250 for a standard business headshot, and $200 to $400 for a modeling or acting headshot. If you are in metropolitan area, the cost may be higher.

Some photographers offer specials to corporations who schedule a large group of individuals or an entire office. The fee for this type of portraiture usually includes the photo session as well as the finished images. Generally speaking, headshots are provided to clients as a set of files for one pose, enhanced and cropped, in various sizes. If you want additional poses, there will be an additional cost, usually about $100 per image. Again, this varies by locality and photographer. Remember that although you can always pay less, a good headshot an investment that pays for itself in the opportunities it creates.

Find a Headshot Creative near you!

SmartShoot brings the power of professional photos and videos.

We help businesses and individuals find and collaborate with professional freelance photographers and videographers. Our creatives have delivered over 80,000 projects around the globe.

An example project

5 Person Team Headshots

An affordable Headshot shoot will include 3 - 6 images per subject that you can use for print and promotion. Be sure to include information about the number of people, location(s) and desired time of day for the shoot. Be sure to talk about what you would like to see and add appropriate examples where possible. Consider if you want a backdrop or a natural setting. Note that a seamless back drop, studio lighting, or multiple shoot locations will affect cost. Ask to retain all rights to the shoot, but give the photographer the option to include them in a portfolio.

Suggested Price: $600

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