You're thinking it's time for a new headshot, but you're not quite sure how to choose the right photographer. If price is your only concern, read no further. Go to Walmart. It's all good.
If you're looking for something a bit more upscale, how do you decide? Easy. Start by looking at their portfolio. You'll notice quality when you see it.
look at their portfolio
I mean really look at their portfolio. Photographers use portfolios to showcase their best work. It represents their high-water mark of quality. Look for the worst shot of the bunch and ask yourself "Would I be happy with that"?
Is there a consistency across the images in terms of colour, proximity, exposure, lighting, framing and background? Is there diversity across the people in terms of ages, complexions, ethnicity, hairstyles and gender expression? Do the people look engaged, confident and approachable, or do they look miserable with pasted-on smiles and eager eyes? There's so much to consider.
Feeling overwhelmed? Here's a quick checklist to help you review a headshot photographer portfolio. Keep it handy.
a handy headshot checklist
Is the portfolio consistent? If not, what exactly are you buying? Look for a consistent look and feel between all the images - look at skin tones, how the person is framed, how close you are to the person and how the person is lit. You are looking for a clear consistent sense of the product.
Is the portfolio diverse? If not, does the photographer have enough experience? Stay away from portfolios with multiple images of the same person, or a clear bias toward the same type of person. You want to see diversity across age, complexion, ethnicity, hairstyle and gender expression. Ideally with a mix of background options.
Where is the focus? A headshot is not an environmental portrait - it's a headshot. The focus should be on the person, specifically, the person's face. Lookout for distracting elements such as hands, large jewelry, bulky clothes and cluttered backgrounds. You want clean crisp images focused on the subject.
Are the images engaging? Do you feel a connection with the person in the headshot? Does the image draw you in and compel you to look longer? Or is the image flat, the expression bland, the smile cheesy, or the pose contorted and unnatural. Is this what you want for your headshot?
Are the images over-retouched? Perfect pore-free porcelain skin is the most common error. Other signs of over-retouching include accentuated makeup, exaggerated skin highlights, over-whitened eyes, poor 'cut-and-paste' over the background, and perfect hair. Over-retouching cheapens your brand. Don't do this.
Did you read their reviews? Look for them. Be wary if there are none, or if they're too old. Read both Facebook and Google reviews, perhaps others as well. Consider carefully what the review says and what it does not say. Pay close attention to responses dealing with customer complaints. Know what you're getting into.
But what about cost? Stay tuned - that's my next post.
Buy nice or buy twice.