How Long Does a Headshot Take? - from a top san francisco corporate headshot photographer
Often when I start working with a new corporate headshot client their first question is, "How long will all this take?" My first answer, which I'm well aware is not exactly what they're looking for is, "It depends." Because it really does! Whether we're shooting on location or against a background, wardrobe, hair and make up choices -- all these things can alter the timeline for headshots.
While most clients are focused on the end product -- their shiny new headshot -- every photo actually has three stages: prep, shoot, and post.
Prep for a shoot is mainly consultation. The location, the look and feel of the image, clothing, hair and make up, and budget are all things we'll discuss in detail in preparation for your shoot. Consultation can take a long long time because you may not know exactly what you want. We'll spend time sending inspiration images back and forth until a mood is reached and then we aim to shoot something in that realm. Of course, we never copy a photograph exactly: there's no creativity in that, and it's just plain old plagiarism!
Once all the prep work is complete, it's time for our shoot! The shoot is executing our ideas from prep with a few alternatives. We'll also be choosing the final images while on set, so we can be sure I leave with exactly the shots you wanted to get out of the shoot. Depending on number of final images desired, the actual shoot can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours.
The shoot starts with me setting up all the lights, getting them exactly how they should be, doing test shots, and then doing more test shots. Once you arrive, more tweaking needs to be done because you may be a different height than the assistant who is standing in, or wearing a different outfit that looks different on camera. Once we're set and I start shooting, you're being carefully watched by the assistant behind the camera or at the monitor station to make sure everything is perfect that no hair is out of place, the collar and buttons are all perfect and that you don't get too hot (read: shiny) under the lights.
Though arguably the least glamorous part of the process, a considerable amount of time is spent in post production importing images, cataloging, keywording, color correcting, and then doing actual work on the individual photos. There is no such thing as batch when it comes to a portrait!
I look at each photo individually and assess what needs to be done to make it look it’s best. I then process the photo and send it out for your approval before providing you with the final -- fantastic! -- images.