Bespoke Headshot Sessions

Bespoke Headshot Sessions

Every industry has its share of common client misconceptions. Professional photography is no exception.

As a portrait photographer, one of the most frequent comments I hear from my clients is that they had no idea how much work goes into taking a portrait. The commonly held belief is that a photograph is an easy thing to take; Dress nicely, stand in front of a good camera, smile and the job’s done.

In reality, it’s a far more involved process.

I have a solid reputation as a photographer who puts a lot of detail into his work. I specialise in bespoke business portraiture – I create imagery tailored to my client’s needs.

How do I do this? I make time to meet with my clients first to discuss their needs, build rapport and prepare them properly for the studio session.

I thought this blog post would be a great place to go into a little detail about this first meeting and the considerations at play when I work with a client.

“It is much more likely that you’ll create portraits filled with character if you’ve taken the time to get to know your client and their needs before you touch the camera”

What happens at the first meeting?

This may sound like a very obvious question, but in photographic terms (at least to me that is), I have a responsibility to capture the character of my subject. I often remark that a photograph, though two-dimensional, has to be partly 3-dimensional – it has to convey personality and character. I feel very strongly that a good portrait is based on good rapport – There has to be a good working relationship between photographer and client.

1) Building rapport

I’ve run a business for quite some time now. I like to think that I’ve learnt lessons from my interactions with suppliers/providers and other business people that make me better at what I do. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that you create a good realtionship with your client the minute they know that you’re not seeing them as another paycheck. Sit down with them, talk about what they do and how they’ve come to be in their current position. What makes them passionate about what they do?

It may very well be my experience as a doctor, but I am very good at spending time with my clients. It helps that I am genuinely interested in them and what they do. Clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

In addition to building trust, this discussion also helps identify things to talk about during the shoot. It gives me an idea of their personality and what approach will work best to keep them relaxed and happ during the shoot.

I need to ensure that my clients leave our first meeting wholeheartedly believing 3 very important things:

– I truly know what I’m doing –

– Their needs will be met or exceeded –

– They will enjoy the time we work together in the studio –

2) Understanding their image needs

It may sound a little strange, but very often my clients don’t truly know the scope of what they need done. It is usually at this point that the penny drops and they truly understand the importance of the first meeting.

From a client’s initial perspective, all they need is a good portrait. They don’t generally haven’t considered colour, how it will best fit on their website or social media, the orientation of the image or what their future needs might be.

3) Preparing the client

We’ve established trust, and we know what images we’re trying to create. The next step is to help them prepare for the shoot itself. My aim with every bespoke client is to use the time we have to create as much variety as possible. Generally this is achieved in only 3 ways:

  • Different lighting setups and background colours.
  • Wardrobe changes.
  • Different expressions.

The aim is to put together a set of images that will meet their needs – current and unanticipated. VARIETY is immensely important.

This is where we discuss issues like clothing choices, colour of clothing to compliment the feel of the image, make up and grooming, smiling and expression (and how to perfect that prior to the shoot).

In addition, there are other small touches that I feel make the experience more enjoyable for my clients on the day of the shoot:

  • Music: I ask my clients to bring in a playlist of music that puts them in a great mood – the shoot is all about creating an atmosphere that is enjoyable for my client.
  • Timing of the shoot: I always suggest to pick a time that is not followed by anything urgent or important – this helps keep the session free from distraction. It’s amazing how many clients don’t consider this – and it makes a HUGE difference.
  • Pricing: As weird as it sounds, having my clients know exactly what the costs involved are helps immensely. I don’t believe in nasty surprises or bait-and-switch tactics when it comes to money.

4) Good business practice.

It would be wonderful to live in a world where business is conducted on a handshake – this is not that world.

Contracts and terms of trade are part-and-parcel of running a professional business.

The session ends with necessary formalities:

  • Signing the Booking Agreement. (Which provides contact info for reminder emails etc…)
  • Paying the session deposit.
  • Acknowledging the cancellation policy.
  • Setting a date and time for the shoot itself.

In most cases, my clients leave as friends and a very solid and trusting working relationship has been established. I like this approach because it has added a lot of humanity to my business – I enjoy the people I work with and I believe this attention to detail and level of care I bring to each client is the reason for my success.

But don’t just take my word for it – here’s what some of my clients have to say.

“As someone who has never had professional photos   taken, the thought was somewhat daunting. From the very first time meeting Rory I was made to feel at ease. It quickly became clear that Rory knew his stuff, and I was definitely in capable hands.”

“It’s not easy for me to look good, but you certainly did a great job. I was delighted with the extra effort and energy that you put into the entire project and you certainly exceeded my expectations for both professionalism and outcome.

It was very easy to work with you in conveying my ideas. You were always receptive and gave a lot of very helpful suggestions.

Normally I get very bored with the idea of sitting for photos for hours in the name of self-promotion, but we had a great time on the day and the preparation that you suggested I do certainly made the shoot very productive and enjoyable to do. 

I get great feedback about the images that you produced. “

“Working with Rory was great. He sat down with me the first time we met and got a really good idea of who I was and what I wanted. This then made the photo shoot go really smoothly and he seemed to get a lot more out of me, making the photos seem more genuine and more dynamic. 

I would definitely recommend Rory, as not many Photographers seem to take the extra time to understand the real intention behind what the photos need to portray.”