1. I have always been a firm believer that testimonials are the clearest indicators of professionalism in the headshot industry (or any industry for that matter). One of the first things you should look for when deciding on your photographer is not only the rating, but the content of the rating: Do the reviewers mention getting their photos in a timely manner? Do people seem to be very passionate about suggesting this photographer or seem just satisfied enough? You can learn a lot about what experience to expect before ever walking through the door, so start your search here.
2. I rank this number two, but I’m sure the first thing you are really going to look at is the portfolio. There are a lot of factors here and just because they are titled “headshot photographer” doesn’t mean their styles match your needs. There is an abundance of locations who can give very standard, close-crop and flatly lit headshots, but perhaps you are an actor who needs one personable commercial shot and a secondary dramatically lit pose: this is where the photographer’s ability to really utilize light and verbal guidance comes in. Take a thorough look at their portfolio and ask yourself if it has a wow factor and if YOUR application could use THIS style.
3. The quality of a website is also a very clear indicator of a photographer’s professionalism: an updated website shows an individual who keeps up with modern technology while the organization and overall presentation says everything about how they will likely be with their delivery of photography goods. Does the website seem a bit messy and hard to navigate? Chances are, that’s how everything from the invoicing to their editing may be. Is everything clean and streamlined? This photographer has taken the time to care for their presentation and it’s almost guaranteed that it will translate into the way they operate with their clients.
4. Get on the phone or shoot an email to this headshot photographer. How quickly did they get back to you if they weren’t able to answer initially? Did they respond to that email with proper grammar and punctuation? How did you feel while you talked to them? Conversing with your photographer will be insight into how comfortable you will be getting your headshots done by them and how easy they will be to get in contact with. If you have an important deadline to meet, this will be key!
5. Finally, pricing should be part of your deciding process (but lower on the priority list). There’s a great saying, “Good photography aint cheap and cheap photography aint good.” Headshot photography pricing can certainly range from $100-1k (depending on the project), but so long as the price is feasible, you have to then consider how beneficial the headshot will be: How many applications are you submitting this headshot on? Is this going to be the face of your professional LinkedIN profile? How important is it to have wowing headshot in a stack of other applicants? How long will you be using this headshot? Chances are, you’ll get anywhere from 6 months to a year of use (though I know many who push it longer). When you consider this and the work you may land by utilizing a great headshot, does the price still seem unreasonable?