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What to Expect In A Headshot Session

When it comes to your personal branding there’s nothing more important than a great looking headshot. It’s often the first thing prospective clients, employers, and partners will see prior to meeting you in person. It’s your virtual first impression. Too relaxed and they might not take you seriously. Too uptight and they might think you're overbearing. Striking the balance of authentic, professional, and personable isn’t impossible. It’s really not even that hard. It’s a matter of finding the right photographer that makes you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera.

Below are a few simple tips and tricks for working with a headshot photographer and what to expect in your session.


Every photographer is different with their booking and pre-session requirements but you can generally expect the following:

• Booking your session online, over the phone, or in person. Nailing down a date and time that work best for you

• Pay any applicable deposit. There is often a deposit required to book which should be applied towards your session

• Pre-shoot consultation phone call or meeting prior to your session to discuss expectations, details, and answer any questions

Now that your session is in the books, your nerves may or may not be starting to build as you realize you have to step in front of a camera. For most people, taking a selfie is no big deal. But standing in a studio with lights, equipment, and being told what to do can be pretty intimidating. Don’t fret. You are in good hands. We have been doing this a long time and have worked with many people. We'll coach and direct you throughout the session to get the best possible headshots.


Upon arrival, if not already done beforehand, you'll sign an Image Release Form and, if still applicable, a COVID-19 Waiver prior to taking the first photo. The Image Release Form is a standard release giving the photographer permission to take your photo, retouch the images, and outlines any additional details. The COVID-19 Waiver outlines that you do not have any symptoms related to COVID-19 and other safety precautions. If you've decided to work with a makeup artist, which I highly recommend, you'll spend the next 30 to 45 minutes getting your hair and makeup done- getting all beautified. Once you're wrapped with hair and makeup, it's time to start shooting!

The first 10-15 minutes is generally a “warm up” period for both you and the photographer. They’re getting to know you as their subject just as much as you’re getting used to the flashes and awkward poses. If your photographer is like me, they shoot tethered. This is a huge plus. This means their camera is hooked up to their computer and the images pop up right after they take a photo. This helps for several reasons- we, the photographer, make sure we’re nailing focus, composition, and lighting. You, as the client, get to make sure you’re getting images that you love and can use. It’s a win-win.

Shooting tethered also helps calm nerves. Getting to see the first few batches of images generally helps relax you as the client. I’ve come to find that the photo shoot in your head is far scarier than the reality of the session. And when the images start to pop up on the screen, clients normally say, “OH! Wow! That’s actually not too bad!” and start to warm up and relax. From there on out it’s normally smooth sailing.


Congrats! You just had a great headshot session. What next? Photographers vary in their packages, processes, and workflows but here’s what my process looks like:

• Cull photos and deliver online proofing gallery to client within 24 hours of the session

• Client reviews gallery and selects images for included retouches

• Final retouched images are delivered within 48-72 hours after receiving the client selections for retouching

• Client updates profile photo on all social and professional profiles and gets ALL the likes and comments :-)

It’s an easy, seamless process and you should get a lot of miles out of your new headshots.


• Wardrobe: It essentially boils down to dressing as the best version of yourself- whether you're meeting with a big client or getting together with a friend for drinks at a trendy LA hotspot. Your headshot is a representation of you. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Generally, I suggest avoiding loud prints or patterns. Solid colors, simple cuts, and tasteful layers work best.

Regardless of session type, I recommend bringing a variety of options to your session: various colors, t-shirts, henleys, button-downs, blouses, dresses, jackets (casual and/or professional), etc.

• Trust your photographer. Posing feels weird and the lights are intimidating. Believe me, I get it. But it helps get the best images. Obviously if they ask you to do anything inappropriate or something that you’re uncomfortable with, decline and get out. A headshot session shouldn’t make you feel unsafe.

• Beware of super low rates or packages that seem too good to be true. They generally are. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Headshots are an investment but they’ll yield a long lasting return. For more info on how much headshots cost, check out my other blog post: How Much Do Headshots Cost?

• Relax and have fun! This is a professional investment in yourself. Get the most out of it! Don’t be afraid to try stuff, act like a model, or even direct the shoot for a bit. Like I mentioned in the previous point, being told what to do for a photo feels weird. But if it’s compounded by a stiffness or unwillingness to try something new or not be a goofball, it will make the photographers job that much harder and you as the client won’t be happy with the results either.

Ready to upgrade your image?
Published: April 7th, 2020
By: Tyler Coleman
Contact: tyler@typierce.com
Photo by: Alexander Dummer via Unsplash
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