Breaking Into Headshots

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Vraeyda, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. Vraeyda

    Vraeyda TPF Noob!

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    Hei fellow photo-philics!

    I'm a photographer who has been working on architectural fine art, corporate, and on-set photography for two years, and I want to break into the Headshot Industry. I know that being able to take a killer portrait is going to increase my business, yet how I should get started is evading me.

    Any thoughts? Ideas on composition, lighting, marketing as a newbie?

    One idea I had was advertising (at the start) an incredibly reduced rate for Headshot/Portrait Sessions until I got the portfolio in the swing, but would it be less trouble/better in the long run to find friends and go out on fun shoots for free/portfolio? I want to be fair to other photographers out there, yet at the same time as a newbie to headshot portraiture I'm having a bit of a loss as to how to begin.

    Any pointers?
    Vrae


     
  2. Mrgiggls

    Mrgiggls TPF Noob!

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    This is going to be good.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If you start running a business/offering a service at a very low price you'll pick up clients. However if that low price is uneconomical for your company to run with long term and you aim to increase that price to a more competitive level you'll hit a wall where your current (lower price) client base that you've built up will likely be unable/unwilling to later pay for your services at the higher cost. As a result you'll have to go back to scratch to rebuild a new client base.

    It would be far better to build the client base you want to have from the start; charging a competitive price for your services based on your cost of doing business, your overall desired profits and also on the market competition in your area.

    Producing a portfolio of results shouldn't be too hard and should be something you could easily acquire through friends or even paid models for posing (you could also consider trade for time with models). Remember to get in writing a clear contract between you and whoever you deal with (because you will want to advertise these for your services; esp in the start when you might not have a larger base of photos to work with).
    In addition if you work with models try to keep any additional components to the shot minimal - any makeup should be standard not specialist unless you're able to provide that service yourself/at addition client cost (in short make sure you're presenting the product you can make not one that you cannot).
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012
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  4. pgriz

    pgriz Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Well, for starters, any new venture needs to feed a need that is isn't being met. So what needs does a "headshot" industry fulfill?

    Well, there's the corporate headshots for the annual reports, the cafeteria walls, and the in-company exhortations to quality and productivity. Of course, depending on the company,some officers would perhaps like to have someone else's photo instead of theirs just in case the law catches up with them - then they could plausibly claim it wasn't them.

    There are also passport headshots. Hard to compete though with $5.00 Costco. On the other hand, if you can figure out how to make passport photos that are flattering, you'll be laughing all the way to your yatch in the Cayman Islands.

    Then there are the formal portraits of happy couples... Yet given that divorce seems to be more popular than marriage, perhaps there is a market for the "ex-partner" pictures, probably deliberately shot in an unflattering fashion and laminated onto a dartboard.

    There are the school headshots... With a desperate need (like the passport photos) for someone who can make the dorks, geeks, and unpopular look as good as they would like to look. Definitely an untapped market.

    Whichever way you decide to go, you have to think out of the 8x10 box, as that is being filled by many photographers who wish they studied harder and went to dentistry school.



    What?
     
  5. jake337

    jake337 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  6. cgipson1

    cgipson1 TPF Noob!

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    If you are good.. and already have a decent portfolio that has any portraiture in it, I would just advertise. I wouldn't even offer greatly reduced sessions... maybe a small discount at the most. If you haven't been shooting portraiture.. I would suggest a lot of practice there, before you try and sell it.

    Questions about composition and lighting? I don't think you are ready!
     
  7. jake337

    jake337 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Exactly! I wouldn't worry about the marketing aspect until you have a great product to market.
     
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  8. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't think you need to be worry about being unffair to other photographers... if you want to build a portfolio (which really only needs 10-20 images) why not join Model Mayhem and offer TFP (Time for Print) sessions with local models? That will allow you to get your portfolio built while staying out of the "industry".
     
  9. MReid

    MReid TPF Noob!

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    good one
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I agree with the advice that starting off with low prices, probably isn't the best way to go about it. Inexperience isn't a reason to charge less. If you need a portfolio, then shoot friends, family or anyone you can. You could charge for these, but make it clear that you're building a portfolio and thus they are modeling for you, which offsets the cost that you would normally charge.

    Vancouver has a thriving movie & TV industry...the music scene is probably the biggest in Canada, besides maybe T.O. I'd guess a decent fashion industry as well. So I can imagine that there is a good market for people needing or wanting head shots. As with most things, it's not so much what you know, but who you know. If agents and talent coordinators know your name (and that you're good) they might send starie eyed wanna-be actors, models, musicians etc.
     
  11. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You might start with an "introductory sale price" for a "limited time." Maybe a coupon with a short shelf life. Just be sure to show your target price and the savings.

    For instance: "Get our PR session, including choice of pose, general retouching and two files (one for printing and one for web use), a $200 value, now just $95 through the end of April."

    Just a thought.

    -Pete
     
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  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    That sentiment was already expressed in post #2 in this thread...I have to disagree...it feels like this thread is already almost played out...
     

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