Headshot Photographers 101 | Amanda Richardson Brand Photography

Headshot Photographers 101

January 4, 2022

At some point in our lives, we’ve all had a need for headshot photographers. Whether for brand photography, work, professional development, or senior graduation, it’s important to find the right headshot photographer and make sure you get exactly what you need! In this post, we’re going to go over headshots photography 101. From definition to cost, to what to wear and how to pose, you’ll be an expert in headshots by the time we’re done.

What is a headshot photographer?

A headshot is an image that clearly shows your face, usually taken from the chest up. They’re used for business cards, biographies, social media profiles, and more. A headshot is a critical part of your personal brand, which encompasses the larger collection of imagery and marketing material you use to promote yourself and your business. Traditionally, these are taken with a backdrop in a studio. Modern headshots are more informal, in workplace settings, outdoors, or other on-location options. Further explore headshots.

A headshot photographer is someone who specializes in taking headshots. Corporate photography is its own genre, and not every photographer offers headshots. Sure, your family or wedding photographer could take a picture of your face. But a headshot photographer will offer a better service than a photographer who offers headshots but typically works in another specialty.

Headshots vs Brand Photography

Headshots fall under the umbrella of brand photography. Brand imagery encompasses all the images and graphics you use to promote your business. You want them to have a similar look and feel so your brand is consistent and recognizable. A brand photographer can capture your headshots, team photos, behind the scenes and educational imagery, product photography, corporate event coverage, and just about anything you need for your business. This allows you to have a collection of consistent imagery to use for collateral, your website, social media, packaging, and general marketing needs.

More on brand photography and why it matters. 

Vee Culinary Chef Daniel in black chef coat

How much do headshots cost?

It depends! Most established corporate and brand photographers charge $250 to $800 for an hour of their time, typically delivering (limited) edited digital images from the session. Photographers are independent companies with varying pricing. Rates depend on their business expenses, years of experience, quality of their work, hourly rate, and the type and quantity of product they’re delivering. Then, there’s variables like mileage and availability to consider. Finally, artistic style and skill play a role. If you’re looking for a new headshot, you’ll have to reach out to individual photographers to see what photographers are charging near you.

Generally speaking, an isolated headshot outside of a personal branding photography session will cost a couple hundred dollars. Photography is an industry that is easy to enter, so novice photographers are out there charging less. Headshots are also more affordable in group rates, where photographers may charge by the hour or by the person. When it comes to booking one individual headshot, your per image cost is going to be high. If you need to save, try booking with a group for a better rate or invest in personal brand photography to get more variety and imagery for your time and money.

How to find a headshot photographer

You could Google it. Heck, that might be how you found this post! But… Let me let you in on a little secret. Google, search engines, directories, Facebook, etc only show you businesses who know what they’re doing in the marketing department. A business that exists and does great work doesn’t automatically get listed on Google without registering, creating great content, and meeting certain technical parameters. This means it’s possible to show up at the top of the list if you have a great keyword and marketing strategy but poor quality work, and it’s possible to not show up at all if you have a fantastic (likely offline) business but haven’t put time and money in digital marketing strategy.

Like any other service you shop for, the most reliable way to find a great professional is to ask people you know. If you’re rebranding, your brand designer or web designer may have people they have worked with in the past that they can recommend. As a working professional in a group practice like law, real estate, medicine, etc; your colleagues likely have good recommendations. Scroll through Google for some options too, but don’t forget to ask your network!

headshot photo of lala and elm boutique owner in Wilmington NC

Vetting a brand or headshot photographers website

  1. Ensure they’ve done headshots before. You’d think I don’t have to say this, but I do! If you’re working with a family photographer, wedding photographer, or some other specialty, ask to see prior headshot work. A headshot requires specific framing and posing that doesn’t come naturally. You want to make sure they’re experienced in this line of business.
  2. Consider their artistic style. Do you like the work they produce? If you’re able to look at multiple examples, is it generally consistent? Make sure that their photography style is going to suit the look and feel of your brand too.
  3. Look for reviews and testimonials. Can you find more than one? Are most of their clients having the same great experience, or do results vary? You want to make sure that the photographer is reputable and pleasant to work with.

More on what to look for in a brand photographer.

Looking for headshots in Wilmington NC?

If you’ve stumbled upon my site looking for a photographer, hi! You nailed it. I’m Amanda Richardson, and I’m a brand photographer. I’m based in Wilmington, NC, but I travel all over for comprehensive, on-site personal brand photography. Learn more about personal branding, or inquire.

Frequently asked questions about headshots, headshot photographers, and brand photography

What makes a great headshot?

This depends on your purpose. Headshots for acting and modeling serve a different purpose than headshots for corporate or marketing use. Generally speaking, your headshot should clearly show your face in simple framing, without other distracting elements. It should be in focus, well lit (or well exposed, in photography language), and framed from the chest up.

If you’re a business owner or have a personal brand, you might want your headshot to connect with your brand well. Think about a location, colors, or expression that go well with the rest of your marketing materials. In this case, your headshot can show some personality and represent you well.

What to wear for my headshots

Are you tired of me saying it depends yet? This depends on your purpose. When I work with business owners, we suggest 2-3 different looks for your headshots. This allows you to vary your marketing content while remaining recognizable and on-brand. In addition, it allows you to represent both a formal and casual side of your personality. For situations like doctors and law offices, I would recommend wearing what you typically work in. This reestablishes consistency and trust with your clients

There are some colors and patterns that photograph poorly. In addition, you want to make sure that you don’t overdress or dress too far outside your comfort zone. Make sure the outfits still represent you! Read the details on what to wear for headshots here.

Chef Keisha Brynn headshot lake in background, grey sweater

Where can I use my headshots and brand photos?

Headshots are a staple in your brand photos. You can (and should!) use them practically anywhere! This topic is so important, we wrote a whole separate article on 12 ways to use your brand photos. Still, that hardly scratched the surface. Brand photography makes your company and your face recognizable. You should be using these images consistently throughout the client engagement process, from initial cold marketing, to inquiry, through client onboarding, and in re-marketing and re-engagement.

Should I use the same headshot on all my social profiles and bios?

This is up to your own personal judgement, but I think yes! Consistency makes you memorable. If someone is considering you and other companies, seeing your face on multiple platforms keeps you on the top of their mind. Plus, you don’t want people to have to do some investigation to figure out who you are. Be clear, be consistent, and be recognizable. Here’s some more thoughts on professional social media profile images.

How often should I update my headshot as a business owner?

Headshots should update as often as your appearance changes, or at least annually if you run a personal brand. As a business owner, the channels you market on matter. Google rewards content creators by prioritizing quality content in search results. Facebook rewards frequent posters in the algorithm. Great imagery stops scrollers on Instagram. So, if you are targeting new clients online, frequently updating your digital imagery is highly recommended!

When is the best time to get headshots done?

There’s no best time! If your business is seasonal and the context is necessary for marketing, then we’ll want to capture you in-season. Otherwise, you can get headshots done or plan brand photography sessions for all seasons. To make the most of your branding session, you may want to plan some shots around seasonal content, such as swapping out your blazer and coffee for a sweater and hot cocoa.

How many headshots do I need?

If you’re just talking about headshots, you only need 2-3 current images. If you substantially change your appearance, make sure to go back and update your headshots. Brand imagery is a much larger collection. While you might get a few dozen images out of a full brand session or session series, there are a few images that you should make sure are on your essential brand photo list. Your headshot is first! But you also need to make sure you have a great cover photo, images with white space, and more.

How do I pose for a headshot?

If you’ve hired an experienced headshot photographer, don’t even worry about this! Your photographer will guide you through posing, bring proper lighting, and may even have guides on selecting outfits and locations. Relax, and be yourself!

Bear Lake Reserve headshot photo of staff member fall leaves in background

More questions about headshots, headshot photography, and brand photography?

I would love to answer all your questions. I’m a brand photography nerd, and always want to know what’s on your minds! Drop your questions in the comments, or go ahead and send me an email. If this was helpful and you want more content like this sent weekly to your inbox, sign up for next week’s email!


Amanda Richardson

Personal Brand Photographer

Wilmington, NC

Updated for 2022

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