Music is such an intangible art , and when someone can’t hear you play, your headshot is the next best tool you have to showcase your personality. Representing yourself with quality imagery is so imperative in this business, and I love helping musicians stand out from the crowd.
Here are five recommendations for finding a photographer that you love:
1) You know what they say– you get what you pay for.
As with any product, the amount that you invest usually correlates with the level of service that you receive. When you bought your handmade instrument, you received much more personalized attention than you would have if you bought your instrument from Walmart (which is possible, in case you were wondering!) . Walmart makes money from selling a large volume of instruments manufactured in bulk. Fine instrument craftsmen make money from selling a fraction of that number, but they make the customer experience amazing from end to end so that the final product is carefully crafted and more valuable in the customer’s eyes.
Which is the right model when choosing a photographer — lower prices and less commitment, or higher prices and higher commitment? That choice is up to you. If you are truly invested in creating a professional end product, it’s worth hiring a photographer who can commit the time necessary to plan your project from start to finish and provide you with a mind-blowing level of customer service.
2) Choose a photographer whose personality clicks with you.
Headshots are a very personal experience because you’re entrusting your personal brand to your photographer. If you thought practicing your poses in front of the mirror was hard, now try it without a mirror in front of someone you’ve never met before! For this reason, it’s important to audition your photographer and make sure you click with him or her before you book your session. Give them a call and see how the conversation flows. Are there any awkward pauses? For those three minutes, are you laughing or waiting for the conversation to be over as soon as possible? You should feel a connection to your photographer as if he or she were your friend. It’s that personal connection that will help draw out your true personality during the session and eliminate any awkwardness you might feel.
3) What you see is what you get.
If you’re looking for a white seamless background for your headshots, then make sure you find an example of that in your potential photographer’s portfolio. If you want to be photographed in warm, glowy sunshine , then look for that aesthetic instead. Photographers generally exhibit the style of work that they feel is their strongest, so it make sense to hire a photographer who specializes in the aesthetic you want.
If you want to get a better measure of a photographer’s consistency, try looking through their blog instead of their portfolio. Whereas portfolios usually feature individually strong images, blogs feature many images from one session. This will help you get a more realistic idea of what to expect in your final images. Look for variety within each session– the more looks you have, the more material you’ll have to help you build a website or CD booklet.
4) Read reviews.
Beyond the overall star rating, take time to read online reviews of photographers that you’re considering. These reviews will usually provide a little insight into what it’s like to work with the photographer. In particular, look for comments about customer service, help with session preparation, and the vibe of the session itself.
5) Short is not always sweet.
For those of you who are camera-shy, I get it (I became a photographer so that I could be BEHIND the lens, not in front of it!). Your first instinct is probably to be done with your headshots as soon as possible, but please reconsider! The more time you spend with your photographer, the more time you’ll have to open up and let your true personality shine. You’ll also pick up posing tips and tricks along the way that will help you look and feel your best. By the end of the session, you might even find yourself forgetting about that weird black box in front of your face and (gasp!) enjoying yourself! I find that the majority of the time, my clients’ favorite headshots end up being the ones that we took toward the end of our hour and a half together.
Kate Lemmon specializes in photographing headshots for musicians in Boston. A graduate of New England Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music, Kate is passionate about supporting the careers of her fellow musicians.