How to Avoid a Failed Headshot Session

As I wait for Season 6 of The Walking Dead to return tonight with a new episode, I thought about a client I had just the other day, who had many concerns during her headshot session. 

This is a completely normal circumstance to come across, and typically doesn’t bother me too much. 

People will typically have concerns during their session for several reasons… 

A.  They’ve previously had a traumatic, or just plain lame headshot experience.

B. They have unrealistic expectations. Or, they think that photographers are magicians.

C. They don’t love the way they look. I mean, in life. They don’t love the way they look in  life.

D. They have been receiving few auditions or have been out of work and have now put too much pressure on this particular headshot session to change those circumstances.

E. They’re hangry.

Whatever the cause may be, there is usually a trend with how these concerns manifest themselves during a session.

That manifestation always takes the form of a question.

That statement above is extra important to remember, and that is why I’m writing about this subject today. The client I had just the other day had many concerns, and they were all voiced as a question, not a statement.
What do you mean by ‘concerns’, Emily?

“Do you think my hair needs to be fuller on the top?”
“Do you think the green background is too much green with my shirt?”
“Is that edge lighting too much light on my face?”
“Do you think this lipcolor is too pink for this look?”
“Do my eyebrows look too filled in?”

I’m suspecting that concerns are voiced as a question because when a concern is just a seedling, people are looking for a second opinion. However, when the only other person in that room is your photographer or stylist, you are seeking the second opinion of the people who made the choice that is concerning you to begin with.

It’s important to remember these things: 
Your photographer and/or stylist do not want to do a bad job! They have made every choice consciously, and believe these choices to be in your best interest based on their professional experience. 

Only YOU know YOU! Your photographer and stylist just met you. So when it comes to subjective questions, such as, “Do you think my hair needs to be fuller on top?” “Do you think the green background is too much green with my shirt?” etc., ONLY you can know what you want the ‘correct’ answer to these questions to be.

Be confident in your choices and communicate. If you are thinking you would like more volume on the top of your hair, instead ask, “May I have more height on the top of my hair?” If your hair will look absolutely ridiculous as a result of this choice, then your photographer or stylist will tell you. But ALL we can do is make suggestions. YOU are solely responsible for choosing how you ultimately will look in your images.

The detriment to asking a subjective question to the people who made the particular choice that is concerning you to begin with, is that your answer will always be the same, “I think it looks fine, but would you like something else?”
The subtext to this answer is, ‘I made that choice on purpose… If you do not want it or do not like it, then you need to let me know.’ 

Photographers are not magicians nor are they mind readers, and they are certainly not there to sabotage you. What good would that do for our businesses?

Take control of your choices. Be responsible. Don’t be hesitant. Say what you want as a request, not as a question.

Obviously, be polite, be kind, and communicate.

These actions will generate the best possible results.

Now go out there and have a fabulous, fun, and successful headshot session! Go you.