Three Reasons Why Headshots Are Expensive

by | Jun 21, 2021

If it’s your first time scheduling a headshot session, you might experience sticker shock at the going rates from headshot photography studios.

Even though HeadShots Inc’s pricing is extremely competitive relative to other photography studios, our entry-level option ($150 for 15 minutes) still occasionally raises eyebrows among headshot newbies.

So, without any further ado…

Here’s Why Headshots Are So Expensive:

Reason #1: Experienced Photographers Are In-Demand

First off, I’d just like to point out that you can actually get extremely cheap headshots from a junky studio/startup for like $49. (Check out Snappr for $59 headshots.)

However, the photographers working with those types of platforms typically aren’t very experienced and may/may not have the right gear to make you look your best.

In the race to the cheapest prices, these tech platforms recruit college students, Uber drivers, and other gig workers – to be your “headshot photographer.” 

While they have a OK camera, and maybe three or four decent portfolio images, they have no idea how to consistently get results that customers are happy with. 

Bluntly, successfully capturing hi-resolution close-up photos of people’s face that they actually like…is pretty hard. 

You need to try different angles. You need to try different lighting setups. You need to try different poses. You need to have the right gear.

Newbie photographers, or photographers who don’t specialize in headshots, don’t know how to mix-and-match those elements to get you a photo that you’ll actually like. 

They’re not really a “professional photographer”, as much as they’re a “random person with a camera”.

Do you really want your #1 personal & professional branding image to be crafted by “a random dude with a camera”? Probably not.

Meanwhile, experienced headshot photographers, like those at HeadShots Inc, can rip through 25 photos in 15 minutes. As a result, even in 15 minutes, we can get you a huge variety of poses, lighting styles, expressions, and angles.

Because we focus on one service, and stay booked all day, we know exactly what to do in 99.99% of situations.

Reason #2: Commute & Setup Eat Into Our Rates

Most people don’t suck at math.

They say: “15 minutes x $150 = $600/hour…why the hell should a photographer make $600/hour??”

First off, see reason #1 above. Second off, while we bookmark our rates to roughly $500/hour, we rarely actually make that much.

Headshot photographers don’t just teleport to your location of choice with all their gear.

Every session requires commute time and setup time (which we don’t charge you for)  in order to be 100% ready to maximize the time during your shoot.

And, if you book a random time slot at our studio…let’s say one that’s super convenient for you, but doesn’t have other sessions before/after for us, we don’t bill you for our commute time. 

We’re also available to communicate with clients before the shoot – and that takes time.

Got a question? We’re happy to answer.

I can’t tell you how many people we’ve saved from cringey results by answering questions before their shoot.

“How do I prepare beforehand?”

“What do I wear?”

“What glasses should I bring?”

“Which photos of the ones we took do you recommend?”

All that stuff is included, for free, with your session. It takes time to communicate, and reduces how much we earn per hour, but it’s 100% worth it for our clients.

Reason #3: Quality Retouching Takes Time

I have yet to meet a single client (out of thousands I work with every year) that enjoys the following virtues:

Perfectly white teeth

AND

Not a single stray hair

AND

No acne

AND

No wrinkles they want removed

AND

No bags under their eyes

Tasteful retouching is 100% worth paying for, because the stuff we list above is very distracting in high-resolution still photography.

If you have a tiny pimple on your cheek in real life, probably nobody will notice. People you meet are looking at your eyes when talking to you + you’re both moving around too much to notice details like that.

In a high resolution professional headshots, a pimple sticks out like an ambulance siren pasted onto your face. It’s also not really representative of you, because it’ll be gone in two weeks.

However, tasteful retouching isn’t easy. We have dedicated headshot editors that retouch photos all-day every-day. 

You can’t just throw your headshot into Facetune and expect a good result when shown in hi-res. (Facetune “editing” tends make your skin blurry on your face.)

All the retouching we provide is done by hand in Photoshop and Lightroom. You can learn more about it here.

All headshots are also reviewed by two sets of people to ensure quality. 

We ALSO have an unlimited revision policy. If you want a change/tweak, just let us know!

It adds to the cost, it’s 100% worth it for a good end-product.

Not just because good retouching is worth it, but because bad retouching can ruin your headshot.

Summary

You get what you pay for! In the grand scheme of a career, paying $150 to $400 every two to three years isn’t that big of a deal. 

Particularly if a great headshot helps you get a better job, improve your sales #s, or get attention for your company.

Invest, and enjoy the benefits. You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

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