[Written By One of Top Headshot Photographers Vanie Poyey]
I recently had an interesting consultation with someone on the phone.
She LOVED my work and she was very much interested in shooting with me. As usual, I started to ask questions about “type” and any notes she may have from her reps to share with me.
Her response was that she had done headshots with “types” in the past and it didn’t work for her, so this time she wanted to shoot “general” headshots.
Sabrina Miller: From top left: Casual Business/Edgy Heroine/Creative Professional/Best Friend or Sidekick
WAIT WHAT? HOLD ON THERE!
That statement is a red flag for me on so many levels.
First and foremost, my entire brand is built on consulting you on defining your types and getting specific with your headshots. I’m not the “general” headshot photographer AT ALL.
I’m not going to be able to please someone looking for just general headshots.
So naturally, I had to dig deeper.
I asked for her website so that I can take a look at her past photos and see how she’s defining “types.”
Jamie Hill: Edgy Thug / Blue Collar / Military
Jerry Chu: Guys’ Night Out / Caroline Dingwall: Casual Business-Student
Leah Verrill: BBQ Mom / Casual Business-Secretary / Blue Collar
Turned out, all her photos had the same expression in different outfits. In fact, all her photos had a recurring theme, which was “sexy,” even when it wasn’t appropriate for that particular “type.”
For example, when trying to look like a Mom, she had a seductive face, and therefore was contradicting the message of the “type.”
Of course I explained this to her, and as we continued to talk, she complimented my work again, and expressed how much she loves the personality in my shots.
“YES! THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT’S MISSING IN YOUR TYPES,” I SAID.
Then she went on to say how much she loved the bright colors in my work. Blush.?
And then came the statements which reminded me my antennas sensed a red flag.
Dartagnan Woods: Hip Friend / Athletic / Guys’ Night Out
Christina Orloff: Casual Business – Office Girl / Best Friend
She showed me two sample photos (probably grabbed from the web) that she really liked and wanted to emulate.
Mind you, not only were these two sample photos lacking personality, they looked nothing like my work.
They were of beautiful women, looking extremely sultry, in dark and moody settings, with dark and moody backgrounds.
I HAD A BIT OF A HEAD SCRATCH MOMENT.
The first question in my mind was why wouldn’t she find a photographer with a portfolio resembling these images? After talking a bit more, I realized she is not going to be a convert.
I respectfully told her I’m not the photographer for her and referred her to another colleague I thought would best suit her needs.
HERE’S THE THING. She wanted something from me that is not in my wheelhouse, not my jam. I think she liked ME from what she gathered on my website, and she liked my work, but in fact, my work isn’t right for her.
Lestarea Williams: Detective / BBQ Dad / Edgy Criminal
Janéy Friend: BBQ Mom / Casual Business
In fact, if she did work with me, I’d do my best to give her what she wants, but it wouldn’t come naturally to me, and I would surely disappoint her. She won’t get the results she wants, and I won’t have a happy client.
UNFORTUNATELY, I can’t always sense in advance when I’m not the right photographer for someone.
A few people will sneak past my radar and end up wanting “beauty” shots the day of their session, like the client whose manager called me saying she didn’t get any upscale high fashion shots from our session.??♀️
Brittani Ebert: Casual Business-Teacher / BBQ Mom / Upscale Business-Lawyer
Jay Jee: Upscale Business-Detective / Edgy Anti-Hero
If you’re one of those people who only wants to look pretty in all your shots, know that while there is nothing wrong with that at all, first and foremost, make sure you’re on brand.
Shooting with a photographer who specializes in making everyone look like a super model may satisfy your immediate desires, but it won’t gain you traction in the business if you’re not *ACTUALLY* that type.
Second, always make sure that the images you want to end up with are in her portfolio!
Ever shot with the wrong person and realized afterward?
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