The Secret to Saving Money on Your Headshots
(and how to find the right photographer for you)
I get it. Quality headshots can be very expensive. When I left Rutgers MFA Acting program I spent over $1200 for my shots (and this was years ago). I thought I was making the right decision but I was wrong. Sadly, that money went out the window and I had to start all over again. Why? I made the biggest mistake any actor can make when getting headshots: I chose the wrong photographer for me. And was it costly. Had I known what I know now, I would have not only saved over a thousand dollars but I would have worked more often and early in my career as an actor. Below you'll find what you need to make sure you choose the right photographer for you so that you can get onto to more important things like booking your butt off for the jobs you deserve. In just three steps:
Step One - Finding Your Top 3
You want to find not one but three photographers. There's a reason for this and I cover it below. But first, I want to talk about how to find your top 3. In order to do that, I need to talk about how NOT too.
- DO NOT GO TO YOUR FRIEND WITH A CAMERA! DON'T DO IT! Why? Because more often than not they're not professionals. I'm not saying they're bad people (or even bad photographers), they're just not professional. What does it mean to be a professional? Professionals are people that are fully invested in their careers. 100% in. Let's be honest, if your photographer isn't fully invested in their own career they are never going to be fully invested in yours. In fact, they probably won't even be photographers in a year. While going to your friend might seem like a good way to save money on your headshots, it's not. I can guarantee you this because many of my clients went and paid their friends a hundred bucks or so before they came to me. But after they realized the shots weren't going to help them book work - they knew they needed to do something different. Had they have followed what I'm going to share with you below, they would have saved money simply by not wasting it.
- DO, go to your friends and colleagues and ask them who they went to. Just make sure they were happy with the photographer. This is the best way to find your top three. Why this way? There's just too much noise out there. Diving into the internet and hoping to find a photographer is not only time consuming, it's risky. When you think about it, the way you usually find anything you might need in the service industry - you go to trusted friends and colleagues. Whether it's a doctor, hair stylist or yoga studio. You always go to your trusted friends for a referral. It saves time, energy and money. Once you have three photographers there's a second step. Read on...
Step Two - Interviewing Your Top 3
You must sit down face-to-face with your top 3 photographers. 15 minutes with each is all you'll need. Why is this a must? Had I done this when I was out looking for a photographer after graduating with my MFA, I would have never gone with the person I went with. Were they a bad photographer? Nope! They have done a lot of good for a lot of actors. But they weren't the right photographer for me. To note, if any photographer won't agree to give you 15 minutes of their time before booking a session, move on! Seriously. The only way to know if this is the right photographer for you is to sit with them for a bit. Just like dating, you'll know right away if this is the person for you. But I want to give you some things to consider/ask them when you have your meeting:
- Is this person committed to helping you book work, or themselves? How do you know? Easy, are they focused on how they're going to help you or are they just telling you how great they are as a photographer? If the latter, move on. Your headshot photographer's function is to help you book work. That's our job. And, ironically, smart photographers know that if they help you book work they're automatically going to work more as a result. It's win/win.
- How do they work? Do they just show you a couple of photos on the back of their camera? Or do they stream all of the images to a laptop or desktop and go over them with you one-by-one. Everybody looks good on the back of a 3" screen. But when you see yourself on a monitor and are able to compare side by side images, that's when you become part of the process. In short, will this photographer include you as part of the process or just run you over?
- Can they help you manage your psychology and look absolutely certain in your photos? Does this photographer have the skill set to do this. If they don't, you have to keep looking. We are attracted to certainty as human beings. If your photographer can't set you at ease and bring out the very best in you - no amount of fancy lighting and make-up will fix that. If they can't help you do this, you won't work because you'll be unattractive in your photos. This has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with your energy and how well you photographer can coach you.
Step Three - Pick One!
Pick somebody and fully commit. That means showing up to the session and saying "Yes!" How do you say "Yes!"? You simply trust yourself and trust your photographer. The rest will take care of itself.
The reasons above are why I'm happy to sit down with anyone who is considering me as their photographer. I want it to be the right fit. If it's not, it won't help either one of us to work together.
Want to schedule a free consult? Use the form below and a member of Michael's team will reach out to you to schedule.
ONE MORE THING!
I hope you found this helpful but I have to say there's so much more to headshots than what I can share here. In my 60 minute seminar that I give at places like The Actor's Studio School of Drama, Maggie Flanigan Studio and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts I cover everything you need to know about headshots and how to effectively market yourself as an actor. Until this point, you would have had to be enrolled full time in one of those programs to have had access to the seminar. And for places like the Actor's Studio School of Drama that would cost you $42,177 per year (if you can get in). I've frequently been asked if I offer it online. The answer is yes. I'll be launching an online version of my seminar: How to Win at the Headshot Game and Effectively Market Yourself as an Actor in the next few weeks. It's the accumulation of everything I've learned as an actor and pro headshot photographer here in New York. No matter who you are or what market you're in, this online seminar will save you money and teach you what they can't don't and won't teach you in acting school. Sign-up below to get notified when the course becomes available.