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17 Questions To Ask a Prospective Headshot Photographer

17 Questions To Ask a Prospective Headshot Photographer

The best way to get more auditions is to have great headshots. Here are my suggestions to help you find and choose a game-changing photographer that is a fit for you.

1. Do your research. Get recommendations from acting coaches, industry professionals, and actor friends. If you have representation, they usually have a list of photographers that they recommend. (Be wary if they only recommend one.) Your representation trusts their work, but you must connect and feel confident with the one you choose. If you don’t have representation, call agencies and ask the receptionist about the photographers they recommend. The names you hear several times are the ones you should look into.

Most reputable photographers have a website. View their pictures, prices, recommendations, and locations online, and check to see how professional their personal website is. Make sure that the photographer’s specialty or main body of work matches the type of photo(s) you are looking to get – commercial, theatrical, modeling, dance, etc. Money is often a factor, but know that the least expensive is not usually very good and the most expensive is not always the best.

2. Ask questions. Here are some questions I strongly suggest you ask.

Do you shoot film or digital photos?
What exactly does your price include? Hair and make-up? Proof prints or CD? Final prints? Retouching?
How much time do you allocate for the session?
How many “looks” – clothes changes or setups—are included? How do you define a “look”?
Approximately how many shots will I have to choose from?
What is your payment policy? (Don’t pay in full before the shoot and/or don’t make the final payment until the shoot or ideally after you receive or can see your photos.)
Do you have a monitor to see the pictures during the shoot?
Do use a studio and/or go on location?
If on location, where do you go? One location or several? How do we travel there?
How do you manage the light?
Do you help with wardrobe selection?
Do I receive proof sheets, 4 x 6 prints, a CD and/or see the proofs on a website?
How long after the shoot before I receive or can see the proofs? The CD? The final prints?
If I am not pleased with the photos, what options do you offer?
What ideas do you have on how to shoot me?
What qualities in me do you want to capture?
What types of roles could I play that my pictures should capture?

There are really no right answers for these questions. What you learn and how the photographers answer you will help you with your selection.

3. Evaluate the photographer’s work. At your meeting, ask to see numerous photos from a single shoot. Sometimes a photographer only gets one good picture from a shoot, and you want several choices. Evaluate the photos for the following qualities.

Pictures capture genuine personalities. Subjects are not trying too hard to depict something that does not look honest.
The actor is in focus and the background is subtle—not distracting.
The lighting is flattering. Photos are not overexposed, too dark, or have distracting shadows
The subject’s facial expressions are natural and capture different facets of actor’s personality—playful, introspective, sensitive, sexy, vulnerable, business-like, etc.
The subject’s eyes have life and are not fixed or lifeless.
The subject’s smile is genuine—not posed.
The subject’s face and body angles are attractive.
There is a diversity of poses, setups, and backgrounds.
Hair and makeup are not distracting, messy, or overdone.
Wardrobe is flattering not distracting or emphasizing unattractive body areas.

4. Consider the photographer’s personality. You are only with the photographer for a short time. You must be comfortable so you can be freed up and accessible. The photographer you select should be professional, communicative, creative, supportive, friendly, and fun.

5. Check the studio or location set-up. If the shoot is going be in a studio, check the lighting equipment, monitor, camera(s), background, and the place where you will be changing and preparing. Is it a professional setup and are you going to be comfortable shooting there?

By utilizing these five steps, you have a very good chance at getting headshots that will assist you in getting not only more auditions but the auditions that you are really right for, thereby giving you a better chance of booking work.

To learn what industry pros look for in headshots, watch my Agent Submission video featuring three L.A. commercial agents and my Casting Director’s Submission video featuring four L.A. commercial casting directors.

Carolyne, a casting director, working actress, and director, is considered by agents, casting directors and students, the best Commercial Audition Acting Coach in Los Angeles. Since 1982, the Carolyne Barry Workshops have been one of the most successful, full training Acting Schools. Ms. Barry and her coaching staff have trained thousands of professional actors. The comprehensive acting, commercial, hosting, and musical theatre workshops and the teachers offered in her programs have often been voted the BEST by the Backstage readers. Follow Carolyne on Facebook and

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