How Your Attitude Can Make or Break Your Headshot Session

Professional Headshots Los Angeles


Over the last 25 years,

I can count on one hand how many times I either wished I cancelled a shoot or I did cancel a shoot. Clearly, not many. But when a new incident occurs, I’m reminded how important attitude is.

I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE BROKE AND UNHAPPY. That was pretty much the majority of my teens and twenties. I know exactly how hard it is to navigate this business when you’re not in a good place emotionally.

And I also know how hard it can be to shift your attitude or change your mindset.


it’s hard to see how your bad attitude is contributing to bad outcomes in your life. It’s even harder to see that you are accountable.

Andrea Fantauzzi: Office Girl / Love Interest

Brooke McDougal: Midwestern Blue Collar / All American Best Friend

NOTHING HAPPENS TO YOU IN A BUBBLE. Everything is action and reaction.

That’s why it’s important to change your mindset before you take the next step in your career, whether that would be taking new headshots, enrolling in an acting class or joining a coaching program.

Otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure, or worse, wasting a ton of money when you’re not ready to shine.

On a side note, I highly recommend listening to Gary Vaynerchuck’s podcast to shift your big picture mindset.

I also recommend WENDY BRAUN to shift your mindset specifically in the acting business.

Durshara Kirby: Office Girl / Brian Fowler: Suburban Dad

Elinor Keyes: Love Interest / Office Tech / Edgy Heroine

One of my associate photographers

recently had a client come in for a session who was clearly in a bad place. She began to cry during the clothing consultation and again when she saw her photos.

No matter what my associate offered to change, add, with makeup, with hair, with lighting, wardrobe etc., there was no pleasing her. His professional suggestions were also turned down.

After it was over, he felt defeated and exhausted for having to play therapist and she wasn’t happy.

FOR ME, THE SHOOT WOULD HAVE BEEN OVER. I would have called it off at the first sign of emotional instability.

But it takes experience to know that. It’s taken me the experience of not calling off these kinds of shoots to know that I need to call them off.

Shortly after, I received the phone call from the client expressing her woes. Some of the things she said were so distorted from the reality that took place that day, I quickly realized this was an attitude issue.

Gregory Dockery: The Hero / The Best Friend

The only thing I could hope for

was that she be happy with her retouches. But even then, everything we did was wrong and too much but she also turned down the chance to review another round of proofs with the retouching she preferred. She preferred to “live with it” no matter how much we offered.

But she had sent us an iPhone photo her husband had taken of her explaining how she liked that lighting (horrible overhead lights), the natural no retouching look, and her comfortable expression. Yup, we too were wondering why she hired professionals if she was happy with that photo.

Her parting words with our studio were not kind and full of blame. Perhaps she wanted a refund but here’s the thing about refunds, we don’t refund money for services that are rendered. She can’t return our time and we can’t return her money.

I offered for her to pay me the difference in package price for a re-shoot but that offer was turned down.

Guilford Adams: Business Executive / The Entertainer

Jaelin Daily: Hipster / Jason Silva: Gamer

Lynsey Arce: Fitness / Girls Night Out


However it’s a reminder that your attitude can make or break your session.

This client had it in her head that she didn’t like photo shoots and she created a very dramatic situation that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Her session turned out terribly… for her.

IN FACT, every single time (that handful I was telling you about) we had a situation turn out like this, there was a common thread. It starts with a concerned phone call about the upcoming shoot followed by a bad attitude immediately upon stepping foot into the studio.

I’ve learned to stop the shoot when I sense that bad attitude, whether it’s never smiling, pouting the entire time, complaining that the makeup artist is too young and therefore doesn’t know how to do makeup or complaining about insecurities, or worse, crying.

Tia Cosey: Middle Management / Edgy Down and Out

Photographers aren’t trained psychologists

and we don’t always know how to react when a client cries. We are taken off-guard but we want to please. Most importantly, we are human too and unpleasant attitudes make the shoot unpleasant for us as well.

When a session is unpleasant for us, we can’t do our best work.

This is true for any collaborative setting whether it would be on set or in a class. No one enjoys working with unpleasant people and in fact, these people are considered difficult and often don’t get jobs when word gets out.

WHILE IT’S HUMAN TO GO THROUGH HARD TIMES, when a person immediately blames everyone else, it’s important to understand their role in how situations transpire.

After the fact, if they were to look inward, hopefully they would see that they are accountable for how things turn out and hopefully they learn how to change their mindset next time.


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. Cindy Harris

    Wow, yes, so important to be honest with oneself if you’re really not in an emotionally secure headspace for a photoshoot, You have to be rested, hydrated, secure in who you are. You also have to trust the other artists in the room (the photographer, the HMUA, etc) It’s a day at work, make no mistake.

    • Vanie Poyey

      That’s a good way to put it. “It’s a day at work”!

  2. Gary tatarian

    Mindset is everything! As an entrepreneur your mindset is the key to productivity and growth! Having a growth mindset goes a long way in business and having the right attitude makes it all the more easier to accomplish your goals.

  3. Susan McGinnis

    Thoughtful words, Vanie., that make a lot of sense. Thanks for the blog post.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *