If you look up headshots NYC, you’re confronted with a list of potential New York photographers that seems to be a mile long. You don’t have the time or the energy to go through the entire list, so how do you find a headshot photographer in NYC?
First off, before you can choose a headshots photographer, you need to be ready with the answers to these five questions:
- What will you use the headshots for? Will they be personal? Professional? Or both?
- Do you want your headshots to be done in a studio setting with a background or backdrop, or are you looking for headshots to be done outdoors, on location?
- Do you want multiple looks, outfit changes, or hair styles?
- Do you want or need a make up artist to be present during your headshot session?
- Finally, how important are cost and the location of the photographer to you?
The style and setting of a headshot can convey many things. An in studio headshot with a grey background and flat frontal lighting can suggest authority and confidence in a corporate headshot, whereas the same grey background, used with a different lighting ratio on the face and accent lighting, can convey candor and emotional intelligence in an actor’s headshot. So you should ask yourself, first and foremost, what your headshot should achieve.
If you’re a doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur or a business owner, your headshot should reflect your expertise somehow, although it doesn’t have do so literally (by having you pose in your office, for instance). If your headshot will only be used for your dating profile or for your social media profiles, it’s probably best to keep it casual; look sharp but be comfortable, in a setting that says something about you. In general, you should avoid trying to use the same headshot that you use professionally in a personal capacity, as the expectations of the people viewing your profile or the page that features your headshot will change based on the context; think, for example, about how you react to images that you see on a dating or social media site versus how you react when you view the About Us page for a particular business.
In studio headshots can be done in an actual studio such as New York Photogenic’s or on location, using a portable backdrop, and getting your headshots done in a studio not only makes it easier for you to schedule a session, since you don’t have to worry about the weather (you don’t want to get headshots taken in the rain or a snowstorm, for instance), but also makes it easier for the photographer to make adjustments to the lighting that add to or reduce the drama of the shot. However, doing an in studio (or simulated studio) headshot does make your final photos seem more formal, to some extent, which may not work as well for you if the final images are for purely personal use, as discussed above.
Getting a headshot done on location can complicate your session somewhat, as noted, because of the weather. High humidity, extreme heat or cold, and high winds can easily ruin a photo session, and these are variables that are beyond the photographer’s control. There’s also the problem of finding a suitable location; if you don’t have a location picked out, the photographer may choose one for you, but will it be close enough to where you work or live to be convenient? Alternatively, if you have a location that you’ve scouted yourself, will it be convenient for the photographer? These are all things to consider when you’re planning any sort of headshot session outdoors.
In general, if you are using your headshots for one application and only one, you don’t need multiple outfits, but it is always a good idea to ask your photographer how many changes are allowed during your headshot session if you have any doubt about whether you need to wear a jacket or suit coat or want to try one shot with a tie and one without. Many photographers include a certain number of looks or outfit changes as part of their typical headshot package; others have less hard and fast rules about what you can or can’t change into. Just remember that if you do need to be photographed in more than one outfit or with multiple looks, you should come prepared with clothes that are wrinkle free and ready to be worn; if you’re doing a studio headshot session, your photographer will have a wardrobe rack or something similar where you can hang your clothes.
Many people believe that it is incredibly easy to retouch photos with modern imaging software, so much so that there is seldom a need for an on site make up artist during the typical headshot session. While it is relatively easy to remove small blemishes such as moles, freckles, and pimples during a retouch, it is more difficult to reduce the shine that’s produced on different areas of the face by natural oils during post-processing. A make up artist helps with this by applying a base or powder to reduce any shiny spots on the skin while he or she brings out the subject’s best features and diminishes those that are a little less flattering. Does this mean that you have to have a make up artist when you get your headshots? It doesn’t, but when make up is applied by a trained professional, there is always an obvious difference in the yield of the final photographic product, whether the person being photographed is an actor, a model, or a business executive.
Finally, consider how important the cost of your headshots and the location of the photographer are to you. Although it’s always possible to overpay for any service in New York City, getting headshots shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive, and if you are spending more than $350, even with a make up artist included, then you are spending too much. In terms of location, if you are looking for a photographer with a studio, it makes sense to find someone who is close by where you work or live, but bear in mind that choosing photographer A, whose portfolio is paltry, over photographer B, whose work is impressive, simply because A lives across the street from you when you would have to hop in a cab to get to B’s studio, isn’t going to save you any time at all if you end up having to re-shoot your headshots.
As you consider different packages and online portfolios, look for similarities between one photographer’s work and the next, and then check to see how much variety there is in the photographer’s galleries that you like. Are on location and in studio headshots included? Are many different styles of headshot photography apparent? Now consider the packages or the quotes that you’ve gotten from the New York photographers you’ve contacted: how many retouched images are included with each one? And does the photographer include an after-the-session consultation with you, as New York Photogenic does, to help you select the images that you like the most?
It can seem daunting, but getting headshots in NYC can be easy, if you ask the right questions of yourself and your prospective photographer. And if you need help, you can always contact us; we can provide a quick quote the same day which will give you something to compare against. After all, this is New York: you’ve got lots of photographers to choose from!