Why the $200 Headshot Doesn’t Work

[Professional Headshots by Vanie]

I recently had a phone conversation

with an actress who had just spent $150 on headshots, but her agents were not happy with the shots.  After seeing them, they suggested she get headshots taken by one of the photographers on their preferred list.

She told me that her favorite photographer on their list was too expensive, and that her NEW budget was $200.  She’d decided to do her own research and found me… but her budget was $200.

Lindsey Wilson: Edgy badass / Love Interest / Office Girl

Ellin Britton: Heroine / Artist or Hipster

I think you know where I’m going with this…  she wasn’t going to pay for MY services either, because I’m also too expensive”.

My advice to her was that she spend the big money with the photographer she liked that was on her agents’ preferred list.

My reasoning was that while her budget is $200, she will now be spending a total of $350 because she has to reshoot, and yet she might still not have headshots that work!

I’ll get to WHY in a minute.

Diane Sargent: Date Night / Doctor / Suburban Mom

AT THAT POINT, she will have learned a lesson—you get what you pay for– and will have spent $350 for nothing.

Having learned her lesson, she’ll eventually spend the $500 on the expensive photographer, rocketing her TOTAL spent to $850.

Of course, she may not learn that lesson, and continue to spend $200 over and over again, putting her career on hold, and risk losing her agents.

Steve Connor: Professor / Villain

Liz Hackworth: Teacher / Edgy Friend / Heroine

Why might the $200 photographer not provide her with headshots that work?

Because the $200 photographer is probably just starting out, putting together a portfolio, or is doing photography part time to supplement another income.

Anastasia Stanfield: Studious / Hip / Disney Kid

WHILE THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT– all of us started somewhere — his or her rookie status probably means the $200 photographer hasn’t a clue about industry standards for headshots.

The reason agents and managers have a preferred list is not because they simply feel like it or they want to make your life more expensive (thus miserable), but because the photographers on their list consistently provide them with the standards and quality casting directors look for in a headshot.

Don’t take my word for it– see for yourself how casting directors judge your headshots.

Read this article and follow the link to the provided SAG panel.


I love helping you by putting out this free information (often written on weekends and evenings) so please help me spread the word by commenting and or sharing this post on your social feed!????????


  1. Vicki

    I understand that newer photographers start out charging less money but here’s my question: why do seasoned, or preferred, photographers feel a need to charge more for headshots? They’re still industry standard headshots, shot in a 1, 2 or 3 hour session! Am I paying for their knowledge? Or their different lens’s? Or a name that’s become successful in the headshot arena? Just curious. Thanks!

    • Vanie Poyey

      Hi Vicki, I can’t speak for everyone else but in my case you’re paying for the value add of a photographer who gives you more than just headshots. I provide the knowledge base and resources to make sure you come in prepared and have a successful shoot. One such example is this blog and another being my consultation videos (which you may receive by emailing us) as well as monthly tips to my list. Also when a photographer is successful, that almost always insures your success with the headshots they produce, thus the higher price. This is not taking into consideration the higher cost of operating at a large level like studio rent and insurance etc. Hope this sheds some light!

  2. Cari

    How much are your headshots for my 10 yr old daughter who is with an agency.

    • Vanie Poyey

      Depends on how many outfits and who you shoot with! I’ll email you all the options.

  3. Le-Anne

    Thanks for all the helpful info!


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