There are a lot of reasons one photographer might charge more than another….
TIME: I don’t have time limits to my sessions…I hate feeling rushed and I certainly don’t want my subject to feel rushed. So be careful of that cheap “one hour” session price some people may offer. I am also happy to spend the time needed before your shoot to send you suggestions for wardrobe, show you sample shots to help you prepare and answer any & all questions you may have.
EXPERIENCE: I have been shooting for most casting agencies and managers in the Baltimore/Washington/PA area for over 20 years. I am on the suggested photographers list provided by AFTRA/SAG. This experience has taught me that the best acting headshots are not necessarily the prettiest picture of you. They are a tool to show your personality and should represent the real you. Not the “Instagram filters, overly retouched…let’s make my eyes bigger and my nose smaller with these apps version of you.” Embrace what makes you different and show your quirks.
Why hire an experienced professional? Because the cheapest photographer is probably just starting out, putting together a portfolio, or is doing photography part time to supplement another income. WHILE THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT– all of us started somewhere — his or her rookie status probably means the $75.00 photographer hasn’t a clue about industry standards for headshots, won’t know proper lighting or retouching and contrary to popular belief, you can’t learn all that by watching a few YouTube videos.
On the other hand, just because a photographer is the most expensive, doesn’t mean they are the best either.
For a brief period, I stopped shooting and became a director for a casting/modeling agency. It was short lived, but I learned a lot about why some casting people choose one person over another. Since the headshot is the first step in getting that coveted role, some people thought if they traveled to New York and hired a photographer, they would get a significantly better headshot than if they used someone locally. So the logic was “if I pay more, it must be better…right?!” “If I pay to have someone in NY do my headshots, I am more likely to get that audition…right?!”
Let me explain why this is flawed thinking on so many levels. First, just because someone lives in New York or LA, that doesn’t make them a better photographer…it just means they pay way more studio rent than I do. Photographers in larger markets have to charge more to survive. Paying more doesn’t always get you a better product. Do I believe you should pay for a great product…absolutely! There are some really talented photographers in the Baltimore area, each with a slightly different style and personality.
“SO YET ANOTHER REASON to invest in your headshots– because it means you’re invested in your craft, which in turn means you’ll be taken more seriously.”
APPARENTLY, IF YOUR HEADSHOT DOESN’T LOOK PROFESSIONAL, the experience from the casting side is that if they call you in, you’ll likely be green (inexperienced), thus deterring them from calling you in at all.
This is a quote by one of LA’s top headshot photographers, Vanie Poyey, and I couldn’t agree more. Even if you are just getting started, if you want to present yourself as an actor worth hiring, you should approach all aspects of the business as a professional.