Listening is the best medicine
The most basic acting technique class will teach that listening and responding honestly is a fundamental tool to creating a role. This translates to everyday life on a number of levels.
How often are you talking to someone, and after a short period of time, you realize they’re just waiting to talk and aren’t really listening to you? Especially in the look at me! society we live in.
Now I’m as guilty as the next person. As an actor getting headshots, I assume that because I’m paying for a service, my opinion means the most. After being on both sides of the camera, I’ve found this just isn’t true.
1: there is something about this photographer’s work you responded to. It’s imperative that you keep that in mind when you want to book a session.
I was having a conversation at a photography conference not long ago with a client that loved my work but wanted to shoot with me in a completely different way than my portfolio showed. I was surprised by how many other headshot photographers had their own stories like this.
Dos: yes you should be up front about what you’re looking for but listen to what the photographer says in response. This is especially true if the response contradicts what you’re thinking. It’s either a sign you need to rethink how to get the results you’re looking for and/or maybe this isn’t the right photographer for you. The goal is for you to work as a team, and if it’s clear that isn’t happening, then take a step back to understand why. Just like in rehearsal, when a character choice isn’t working, you adjust and try something else.
Thirdly: and possibly the most important, what you see is what you get. One of the first things you should do, no matter your profession, is look through the portfolio of who you want to work with. If you like the results then be open to how to attain them. If the work is consistent and you feel it will represent you well, then go for it and be open during the session. If not, then keep looking.
Your portrait or headshot is gong to represent you for years to come, so take your time and find someone you feel is collaborating with you.
“In work or religion you should pick and choose the things that work for you.”
— Johnny Depp