I posted up to my social media recently that I strive to be "one of the best" headshot photographers in NYC." Actually, I also posted shortly after that "I'm one of the best headshot photographers in NYC!" I wasn't grandstanding, more of a motivational type of statement where I discuss my desire to really work hard and focus on getting better and better. Part of this came from a discussion I had with a fellow photographer/friend where we talked about the very subject of "best headshot photographer!" What does that mean exactly and how do you know who the "best" is? Well, I think I've figured it out and the answer is....
Well, it's not that simple really. But let's see what we can come up with.
When I first mulled this topic over in my mind, I couldn't help but think of Penn & Teller's show "Bullshit" (season 3) episode where they talk about the concept of "The BEST" of...whatever and most people's obsession with having to have...products or goods, services that are considered..."The BEST!" If you've seen the show, you know by now that "the best" is really nothing more than marketing language used to suggest to consumers that something is actually worth spending extra money on. Well, in the world of headshots, you most certainly want the best you can get. But how is best actually defined and does spending more money guarantee that you're actually getting...the best?
Here's how I see it - There's no such thing as "the best headshot photographer" or the "best headshots!" There are headshot photographers that shoot headshots and then there's "the BEST headshot photographer for YOU!" What that means simply is that out of the many choices of photographers an actor can choose, some of them may not be right for any number of reasons. Pricing may be one factor. A young actor studying theater and waiting tables at night, barely making rent and bills may not have the budget for "the most expensive" headshots. For them, the best headshots will be headshots they can afford. Outside of price, what about style? While there are some basic similarities to a headshot, there are many photographers with different styles of lighting and set ups. Some shoot exclusively in studio while many shoot exclusively on location. Some do both. Some use natural light only while others may use strobes/speedlights or a combination of both. The BEST headshot is going to be the headshot that fits the style that YOU like and want. Another consideration and perhaps an overlooked one, is making sure that the photographer is actually BEST for you. regarding comfortability. When searching for someone to shoot your headshots, it's important to get a sense of the photographer's personality and their way of working. Checking referrals, reading their info on their website, asking around from others who have shot with them before can help in making the decision as to whether a particular photographer is BEST for YOU to work with. It's not uncommon to find a photographer who has decent work yet, they don't work well or "play nice" with people. Or perhaps they're personality is too zany, over the top or just the opposite, too drab and boring. Making sure you find someone you're comfortable working with is a critical part of getting the BEST headshot that will serve you well.
Now, let me just make something clear so there's no confusion. I'm not suggesting that all of the above considerations should be more important than finding someone who does GREAT work. Above all, the quality of photography should really be of highest consideration. A headshot photographer's work should most certainly live up to industry standard as far as lighting, composition and overall professional look. Just keep in mind, spending the most, doesn't guarantee the BEST. Yes, often times there's a reason why you'll pay a premium for a particular person's work and most likely, that photographer's work is probably great. And yes, often times, you get what you pay for. It's just that in the business of headshot photography, with so many photographers to choose from, a bit of research, shopping around and really taking your time will turn up plenty of options and plenty of great photographers. Any of which may in fact just be....the BEST for YOU!
Let me know your thoughts, experiences and feel free to LIKE or SHARE if you found this post helpful!