There are plenty of newbie photographers or “fauxtographers” out there that will work cheap. And the saying, “you get what you pay for” applies, which unfortunately can come with quite a sting later on. In-experienced photographers are looking for a quick buck with a “snap, flash, bye-bye” approach, and are always on the look-out for their next new client. They don’t have systems in place for good service, let alone client retention. Ultimately, they tend to burn out fast, and leave the industry.
Established photographers are in this for the long haul, and they are looking for new clients to serve many times over the years – even if it’s for a “simple” headshot. They strive to provide clients with great quality, good value, and a reason to come back. The quality is evident in their portfolio. Value comes in to play with services like complimentary retouching, archiving your purchased files in case you lose them or a hard drive fails. And of course, they want repeat business, so they stay in touch and offer occasional incentives to their existing clients.
So before you schedule your headshot photo session, here are some discerning questions to ask your photographer:
1. How long is my session?
If it’s 5-15 minutes, you may as well book a passport photo session at your local post office. It generally takes people at least 10 minutes to “warm-up” to the camera. The point of doing headshots for business is to let your personality shine through – not just use it for identification!
2. How many images will I have to choose from?
You’ll want at least a dozen to choose from. When shooting a magazine cover, photographer may shoot hundreds of images all day for the ONE perfect image. You’re probably not at that level of scrutiny to be on every news stand (yet!), but you’ll want a good selection when choosing the best image that reflects your personal and business brand.
3. Do you charge for retouching?
Some photographers charge from $15 to $50, per image, for basic retouching (soften lines, remove blemishes, etc). That can add up very quickly on what you thought was a money-saving session. Retouching should be included. It is industry standard to charge extra for braces removal, removing eye-glass glare, and other more time-consuming services.
4. Do you keep my images on file?
Established photographers typically archive and back up files, keeping your purchased images for at least a year or two. And they should contact you if they plan to delete them off their hard-drive or server, so make sure they know how to reach you if you move or change emails.
5. What format will I get my photos?
You’ll want two options. You need a full-res/printable file for your branded image that goes on business cards, banners, or your book cover. You’ll also need plenty of web-res/digital images for any computer use – newsletter, website/blog, email signature, social media, etc. These are lower-density files that enable quick-loading on your sites. Printable files are used less frequently with today’s marketing, and are typically priced higher. While you may be fine with web-res/digital files only, you should still be able to purchase the full-res files if needed at a later date (e.g. new marketing campaign with flyers).
Professional headshots are an investment in yourself, as well as your business. Don’t be scared to ask the questions that will save you time and money in the long run. Practice a little due diligence when hiring your photographer, make an informed decision, and get the headshots you need to elevate your business!
Author: Stefanie Blue, TRUE BLUE Portrait – All Rights Reserved
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