Before a client every enters out studios or shows up on location for a headshot, a great deal goes into the planning for their headshot portrait sitting.
What exactly goes into the planning for a professionally photographed headshot portrait sitting?
Usually, a client will have called or emailed after having been referred or found our headshot photography website. That is, no one just walks in for a headshot. We communicate and prepare accordingly. Both the client is prepared for the session, and the studio, time and resources are prepared for the client on our side.
The first question I ask is usually, how did you find us?
While the answer to this question provides useful marketing information, it also tells me what the client may already know or not know about available service options. This makes interaction on all the following questions more efficient in terms of calibrating the amount of information I will need to convey to properly prep the client.
For example, if we’ve been found via a having searched for ‘headshot photographers in Phoenix, Arizona‘, the client may have just used the phone number on Google+ and may in fact know very little about our actual services. Others of you will have surfed our Phoenix Headshots Photo Gallery, and maybe looking for something similar, and so on.
Once this baseline is established, we can dig into the specifics of what each client is looking for.
8 Key Professional Headshot Questions
- What is this headshot going to be used for
- How will the headshot be displayed and viewed
- What size will the headshot be seen or used
- What is your position, career, relationship with intended viewers
- What is your aspiration for what comes next
- What is your coloring and look
- How adept are you at self styling
- What are you planning to wear
What will this headshot be used for
This is a key question. Possible answers are for a dating profile, modeling portfolio, business headshot for a recently published article, cover of a book, business social media, etc.
Based on the answer to this question, the session could go any number of different ways, and this question will set the tone and direction for all the following questions.
How will this headshot be displayed and viewed
Some headshots are intended for use on a website, or business cards or printed on modeling comp cards, or as an ego portrait, etc.
This information provides key details for how we will shoot and style the headshot and will set the tone for much of the rest of our questions and direction for how to prep our client to be ready for a great outcome.
For example, something for a social media headshot for a business person will be cropped square by most social media sites like LinkedIn.
Or, someone planning to use the shot on a corporate or business website, will beg the question, what is the color scheme for the existing website, in order to coordinate our background and wardrobe choices later to blend with the final use intentions.
What size will the headshot be seen and viewed
Often clients will like one headshot to perform a variety of tasks. While this isn’t always practical, knowing ahead of time helps greatly in planning the headshot and in selecting the final image to be used.
For example, a headshot on social media will be seen very small, tiny in fact when viewed by a hand held mobile device. A portrait which looks very nice 8×10 may lose detail, like a smile seen large may turn into a horrible frown when seen small. This happens VERY frequently.
We must know the size range of the final product to make sure we select the right portrait for the client’s need, and that the image will in fact be effective across that range of sizes.
Otherwise, we need to use two separate images to achieve the end. What works on a bill board, will often not work on a smaller scale. This effects editing, styling and any number of other options.
What is your position, career, relationship with intended viewers
This tells us a great deal about what the expression, pose and wardrobe will be when planning our headshot.
It also gives indication about the appropriate headshot budget.
What is your aspiration for what comes next
Often the headshot is for what comes next. Sometime there is no next.
For example, an actor needing a headshot for a particular role they are going for or a professional sale person looking to get a promotion will have different needs than someone looking to just maintain a well established stable position within a firm or business., etc.
This is key to how we instruct the client in what to wear and in the headshot expression we target to achieve for maximum effectiveness.
A headshot is sending key messages about the subject. We need this information to make the headshot optimally effective.
What is your coloring and look
A delicate question, yet vital as this effects our palette for backgrounds and styling as well as our lighting and editing choices.
Here we are looking to know if we are dealing with someone who is pasty white, dark skinned, bald, etc.
We are also looking to know if we have someone young or more mature and any special concerns the client may have about their look.
How adept are you at self styling
Usually, this is more of an issue with women. Professional makeup application is often head and shoulders above what one can achieve personally. However, for many cases, depending on what we already know about the client from the prior questions, we can give some basic instruction, and or recommend professional styling be commissioned.
What are you planning to wear
Finally, we go to what the client is planning to wear, and make appropriate suggestions. We really cannot get to this question effectively until we have most of the rest of the information in place in order to make the best recommendation to achieve the best outcome for our client’s professional headshot sittings.
A custom headshot experience should include a discussion with your professional headshot photographer about these aspects. Otherwise, they are just taking pictures and are not adding the correct value they aught based on superior experience with the headshot process and outcomes.