In the digital world, first impressions carry a lot of value. Often, professional business headshots will be the first thing prospective clients and business partners associate with you and your brand. There are however many options when it comes to choosing the right headshot option for you, especially when it comes to pricing. To convey the right look and message you need these professional images to make the right statement and how much you pay for them will influence the final headshot you put out to the world.
If you’ve considered a headshot, chances are that you have done an online search to get a better idea of the price range, and maybe you’ve become overwhelmed by the extensive range: a session can cost between $75 to $4000+.
What sets such a broad pricing range are the photographers’ different levels of experience, the type of headshot, and any additional services you might need (such as delivery, editing or retouching). While this can sound overwhelming, once you understand all the key items involved in the pricing, you —will be able to choose the option that better suits your needs and budget.
First things first. Professional headshot photography requires honing a specific skill set and prices are primarily based on the experience level of the photographer you’re hiring: amateur, professional or high status.
What sets the differences between each type of photographer? Let’s have a closer look at what the differences are.
1. Amateur Photographers
These are somewhat less experienced headshot photographers that are either starting out in the industry or don’t pursue photography professionally. They generally will charge somewhere between $75-$350 per session, and their portfolios will be a mix of good and average headshots.
I get it. A headshot is an investment and not everyone has the budget to hire a professional headshot photographer, but while some amateur photographers can deliver great images, remember that the price you pay will also be reflected in the quality of the work you will receive.
The most significant difference between amateurs and more experienced photographers can be pinpointed to lighting skills and bringing out the natural expression of the clients in the images.
More experienced photographers aren’t only comfortable with the technical side of the sessions (use of flashes, in-studio photography, etc.) but are also good at making you comfortable and at ease. Even when you don’t like being in front of the camera they can help you bring out the best-looking you, and capture it.
2. Professional Photographers
Professional photographers generally will charge somewhere between $350-$1000 per session. While it seems like quite a large pricing range, it all boils down to experience, coupled with supply and demand.
Headshot photographers that charge more are likely to have been in business for years, carrying a certain reputation, and typically charge as much because they’re still getting a high amount of business.
When it comes to professionals, every photographer has a particular style that makes their images stand out. By specializing in a particular lighting or editing technique, a clear photographic style will be reflected in a professional photographer’s portfolio. This style and quality are what you can expect when booking a professional session.
If you’re more concerned with quality and want to avoid having to do multiple reshoots to obtain the product you want and need, investing in a professional headshot is a great way to go.
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3. High-Status Photographers
High-status photographers will charge anything between $1000-$4000+ per headshot session, as they are considered celebrities in the photo industry; their higher-end status comes with a significant price tag for their work.
Don’t get me wrong, when you book a session you will obtain not only a high-quality product but also bragging rights of who you hired for the job. It’s not just about the headshot–it’s also about who you paid to take it.
What Types of Headshots Sessions Exist?
Having a better understanding of the level of photographers available and where their skills lay, the next thing you need to consider as a client is the type of headshot you want.
To help you narrow down the options, we can broadly divide all headshots into three different categories:
Traditional Corporate Headshots
These are head-and-shoulders or half-body headshots taken with a neutral backdrop for business purposes. Think of a LinkedIn profile, a business card, or a presentation. These images are the ones you will associate with a business brand and are more serious in tone. A corporate headshot can be considered as marketing material for either a single individual or a corporate team.
These are headshots taken in the subject’s natural environment and are more geared towards telling the story of the subject’s profession. When thinking of this type of portrait, think of a doctor's image taken in the hospital where they work, or a realtor's image taken in a house listed for sale.
Headshots and Personal Branding
These are more casual environmental headshots and can be completed in natural or studio lighting but maintaining a clear style and focusing on the subject's personality traits. This type of session will work better for influencers or those wanting to have more natural-looking images for social media purposes.
Additional Headshot Cost Items
When gauging the price of your next session, the final items to factor on the list are all those extra—but really important—details you might want or need as part of the final image you will receive.
A Headshot "Look"
This seems to be one of the most confusing terms when searching for headshot prices. Some photographers will charge per “look” and not per session. A “look” consists of a single lighting setup where the same background and outfit are maintained.
Every photographer seems to have their own definition of this look, so understanding how a photographer bases the pricing for the session will avoid any surprises or hidden session fees.
The goal of headshot photography is to receive a finalized image. You might want minimal touches done, you might want some specific features removed or altered. Ensuring you hire the right level type of photographer and discussing these before or during your session, will help in providing you with the retouched photos you had hoped for.
Every photographer has a different style; choose the style that appeals to you the most. Don’t hire a photographer whose style is different from what you are looking for.
Delivery of Material
Last but not least, you will need to know how your images are being delivered to you. Do you want all the photos or just a few high-quality ones? Do you want them as digital files or as prints? Thinking about this before you hire a photographer will narrow down the best options for you and it will also save you from having to pay additional fees.
Before committing to a headshot session there are a few things you need to ask yourself to help you choose the most suitable option:
- What is the main purpose of the headshot (rebranding, updating your online presence or company website, etc.)?
- Is the photographer’s style compatible with what you’re looking for?
- How long will it take for the photographer to process and deliver the final images?
- How will the files or images be delivered?
- What happens if you don’t like your photos?
A bad photo can make people think twice before buying your product or service. A headshot is an investment, and the large price range can seem daunting if you don’t know what to look for and what to expect.
Once you understand all the aspects that can determine the cost of a great headshot, you will be better equipped to choose the option that will benefit you and your business the most by increasing brand visibility, generating more leads and increasing sales.
Are you looking for a professional session? Click here to see my work. My name is Ivan Martinez and I have more than 36 years of experience in the field.