How to Prepare for: Business Portrait / Headshot Photo Shoot


This article is intended for individuals or business groups who are going to have a portrait / headshot session with Chris Schmauch, the owner of GoodEye Photography + Design (but this is good info even if you’re using another photographer). It is broken down into three main sections in order to help you prepare for the shoot, what to expect during the shoot, and then what to expect after the session is over. I wrote this because I get asked about this topic often, and I’m kinda tired of writing the same email over and over again. Plus, I can add to this article as I think of new tips. Photographers, feel free to link to this page, but don’t reproduce the content (that’s stealing, man!).


Before the shoot…

Jump To: During the shoot | After the shoot

Why do I need a headshot, anyways?

If you’re like most people, the idea of a closeup photo of your face is about as compelling as smashing your thumb in your car door. Repeatedly. Lucky for you, I make the process quick, fun and relatively painless. The reason most people get their portrait taken is for business purposes – typically for social media and networking outlets (like LinkedIn), or for business cards – or even print advertising and industry publications. No matter where or how you intend to use the photos, one thing is for sure: your overall impression to clients / prospects / colleagues will be WAY more professional than whatever snapshot you’re currently using.


Where should I have my business portrait taken?

95% of my business portrait shoots happen at or near my clients’ homes or offices. I’m an on-location shooter, which means I conveniently come to you for your portrait session. I try to shoot outdoors, but weather doesn’t always accommodate. When I arrive to our pre-agreed-upon location, I’ll scope out the grounds around the location and nearby as well as get a walk-through of the interior, taking mental note of potential locations. Even if you think your home / office space is a terrible spot for photos, I can practically guarantee that I will see something that will work great. Typically the background is so blurry that you don’t have any context that gives away the location.


How do you deal with multiple employees & group photos?

First, please tell your employees about “picture day” so they can prepare appropriately; and be sensitive to those who don’t want their photos to appear online. Sometimes employees become “sick” on picture day, so consider some kind of positive incentive to make sure they arrive prepared. If everyone is on-site and ready when I get to your office, I generally try to get the group shots done right away, just in case people have to leave for meetings or other appointments. Then I’ll transition to individual portraits. It’s good to have a list to refer to if there’s a lot of people to photograph, and I prefer to work with people one at a time; a little privacy during the shoot will make each person feel way more comfortable in front of the camera. Once I’m done with an individual, I’ll send them to get the next person on my list. If you’d like to see full shoots I’ve done for businesses where we do both group and individual photos, see here and here and here and here!


When is the best time of day to shoot?

Because I use off-camera artificial lighting extensively during portrait photography sessions, I am very flexible in regards to weather, time of day, and location. However, that doesn’t mean some times are more ideal than others – usually the “worst” time to shoot is high-noon – or whenever the sun is at its peak height. The sun is most “harsh” at this time – and most natural light photographers won’t even attempt it. I can and do work with harsh sun routinely, but lighting isn’t the biggest factor for this type of shoot. I’ve found the most convenient time for people is around 10am – enough time to settle into work, but still look “fresh” from the morning.


What if it is rainy / foggy / windy?

Very few portrait sessions have to be postponed due to bad weather. Rest assured, though, that if I feel the weather will compromise the quality of the photos, I’ll be happy to reschedule with no extra fees. Wind is probably the biggest reason for postponements – especially if you have long hair. But usually we can fall back to an indoor shoot if that’s the case.


My corporate office has strict guidelines for employee photos. Can you meet those requirements?

If your company has strict technical headshot requirements, please forward those to me right away so I can make sure your portrait meets those standard.


During the shoot…

Jump To: Before the shoot | After the shoot

What should I wear?

To get the most out of your portrait session, you’ll want to have at least two different top options – generally something more professional, and another more casual; as different uses require different styles of dress. You definitely want a nice suit jacket for the professional look – for the shirt or blouse, I recommend sticking to solid colors, but something that will stand out against a darker suit jacket. Color is great, but consider the overall tone as somewhat neutral, and then adding splashes of color. For guys, maybe it’s a power tie – for the ladies, maybe it’s a colorful scarf. Feel free to bring your multiple tops, and I can give you my opinion on-site. Definitely avoid all black or complicated patterns. You’ll want this portrait to have staying power, as it’s not unusual for people to use them for a decade or more!


I’m nervous / uncomfortable with photos…

I don’t have any tequila in my camera bag, and I know this would really help some people – but I think the big thing for some people is they just don’t feel super comfortable in front of the camera. I assure you that you are in good hands; I will direct you the entire time, and promise to be very quick. It’s normal to feel nervous about a new situation, but remember you’re being guided by a professional that knows how to make you look your best.


How long does the actual shoot take?

If I’m taking photos of just one person, the shoot typically lasts between 15 and 45 minutes. It depends on the different locations we’re shooting at, and how long your outfit changes take. If I’m shooting multiple employees, I spend about 5 minutes with each person at a single location.

How do you deal with shiny skin?

If you tend to have shiny/oily skin, it will definitely show since most of my photos use flash-based lighting. Ladies, usually this can be easily remedied with a light matte-finish powder or blotter paper. Guys, I recommend what I personally use – an oil-mattifier like this one that is like a really light lotion that soaks up oil without leaving any residue (ladies can use this too of course). I usually keep some in my bag if you forget.


Do you bring a backdrop?

I rarely need to use a backdrop, but it’s always an option to bring one if, say, the corporate guidelines require it.



After the shoot…

Jump To: Before the shoot | During the shoot

How much do the digital files cost?

I charge a $249 – $999 creation fee which reserves my time, covers travel, shooting, editing and presentation (amount depends on distance and how many individuals I’m photographing). You then have the option to purchase files individually as you need them. Business-use rates for digital files (with no usage limitations) are $100/ea for print+web use (hi-res) and $50/ea for web-use only (lower-res). So the bottom line is it doesn’t cost much up front to get a full suite of magazine-quality photography that you can pull from as you need for years to come.

There are two rates for commercial use of the photos – Web-Only ($50/file) and Print+Web ($100/file). (Ask about day-rate pricing if you need ALL the files)

The web-only files are approximately 900 x 600 pixel, fully-edited JPG files. You can use these in email campaigns, social media outlets (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), your website/blog, digital photo frame, or any other digital-medium.

The print+web files are HUGE, approximately 7,300 x 5,000 pixel fully-edited JPGs. They can be used for glossy magazine ads, any print collateral (business cards, books, handouts, displays, posters, billboards, etc.) – and of course any of the above web uses as well.


If I like a photo, but want it cropped, does this cost extra?

Nope! Any photo can be cropped as much as you need without losing any quality.


I want a black and white version, does this cost extra?

If you purchase a file, you get any and all versions included at no extra cost. See my “Buy Once, Get Multiple Versions!” article for more details. In a nutshell, you get the original image, any cropped versions, and any black and white versions as well – all included in the original price.


If I get a low-res “web-use” file now, then discover I need a hi-res version later, how much does that cost?

You definitely don’t need to pay full-price; you only pay the difference, which is currently $50.


How many photos can I expect to see from my portrait session?

Anywhere from 5 to 50, it just depends on how long we shoot. For individual sessions, I like to get at least three different locations/environments, and with multiple outfit changes. If I’m shooting a bunch of employees, then there might be only a few photos of each person to choose from.


What’s your turnaround for seeing all the photos?

This could be anywhere from a day to a few weeks – it totally depends on my existing workload at that time of the year. Winter / early Spring shoots typically have the fastest turnaround.


Do you do skin / teeth / eye touchups while editing?

Unless you have a giant pimple in the middle of your forehead, my editing is typically restricted to overall image adjustments. However, feel free to request any additional edits after you see the photos – I can usually accommodate most requests at no additional charge. Any photos that are purchased will definitely get the extra attention – think: tired eyes, stained teeth, blemishes, wrinkles. Nothing too crazy or fake looking, though. Just a little “optimization” if you will 🙂

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