Wondering how to be nice to your headshot photographer? Not really? That’s OK. But checkout these five things you can do to help ensure a pleasant photoshoot experience for all.

Most clients are a joy to work with. They make the experience positive for themselves and the photographer by being thoughtful, courteous, and following a few simple rules. Unfortunately, there are always exceptions. As a reminder, here are some things to be sure to do – and don’t do – to help make a photoshoot a pleasant experience for all:

1. Do arrive on time (or five minutes early). If your session is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. and you arrive a half an hour late, you are not only cutting into time reserved for you (i.e., potentially reducing the number of images you will have to choose from), but negatively impacting a photographer’s schedule for the rest of the day (e.g., delaying retouching images, making callbacks, releasing images). You might also hurt other clients schedule for that same day.

2. Do pay your bills on time. If invoices are due the same day and you agree to do so, then pay them per the agreement. Not paying a booking fee on time, for example, leaves a photographer wondering whether to release a requested time slot to someone else. If you requested a particular Saturday and someone else needs a weekend, if the photographer is thoughtful, s/he might contact you to find out the status of the booking fee payment and to let you know someone else needs that time slot. However, back and forth mothering is not pleasant for anyone. Potential clients don’t enjoy status calls, and photographers don’t enjoy re-validating requests. Most photographers soon enact a no-payment-no-booking-date policy (with no calls or notice) for this reason … potentially leaving you without a session scheduled. Not paying for a completed photoshoot on time can delay retouching images and delivery of those images. While untimely payments are rare, when they do occur, they cause a photographer to tighten rules for everyone.

3. (Child Photoshoots) Do bring expected signed releases with you as required. Don’t forget them. I recently modified my booking process for minors. I now require a signed minor modeling release and a standard booking fee ahead of time, before even booking the session. Why? I don’t want a pleasant photoshoot experience tainted by having to make repetitious follow-up calls to receive signed forms previously agreed to by a client.

4. Do let the photographer preview your wardrobe selection. I have clients text me images of what they plan to bring. More than once, before I made this step part of my pre-consultation workflow, a few clients arrived with either not enough choices or items that didn’t photograph well. Sometimes an item was not flattering. Other times a scoop neck was too deep. Men’s jackets were too tight; blouses too distracting. Still other times an item didn’t hang well, fit well, or created a ton of wrinkles. Clothing issues happen with men and women. It’s not gender specific. Also, I have noticed people are a bit shy about bringing a lot of clothes to a photoshoot. Do take comfort knowing that headshot and portrait photographers expect clients to bring wardrobe choices.

5. Retouching preferences. On rare occasion, after discussing preferences with a client during a photoshoot selection process, when a client reviews retouched images they notice something additional they want retouched – or they didn’t want retouched. Four items come to mind – beauty marks, eye size differences, root hair color, and personal anomalies (e.g., large nose, bad teeth, scars). If you have a tiny beauty mark you want to keep, do point it out ahead of time. If you color your hair, do retouch your roots before the photoshoot (or do mention you’d like them retouched). Hair roots can incur an additional charge depending on how extensive the work performed is. If you want eye size adjusted (most people have slight differences), mention this ahead of time. If you have a feature that bothers you, point it out. As a professional photographer, I have a retouching workflow and techniques I follow for consistency. There are things I routinely look for and things I don’t alter. I see imperfections as beautiful and part of what make you unique. However, if you want specific features altered, be sure to mention them before your images are retouched. If you want your eyes a lighter shade of blue, mention this. I normally would not do this. I would enhance someone’s eye color by staying true to a natural color, but I would not change eye color shades. Be precise and descriptive. If you have a mole with a blemish under it, there is a good chance it will be removed. Skin touch up and blemish removal are common. If you want to keep that mole, mention this. If you are older with severe eye wrinkles/lines, they likely will be softened to fit your age but not removed entirely. If there are lines you want removed totally, mention them. If you have badly yellowed stained teeth, the degree of yellow will be minimized but will not turn a bright white. I try to stay true and consistent with a person’s natural looks. See the pattern? Features are improved, softened, and minimized to fit an individual, but not totally removed, unless they are a temporary defect like a blemish. The point is, as a general rule, retouching requests agreed to ahead of time can usually be accommodated at no charge. Afterwards, however, when images have already been retouched, exported, uploaded, etc., additional charges might be required. Again, make sure you review a photographer’s portfolio ahead of time for clues on what finished images look like. For help reviewing images and what to look for, be sure to read the blogpost “Finding the Best Portrait or Headshot Photographer Near You.”

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