I'm currently working on filling out a huge list of questions here. If you have a questions that's not in this list, I may have is sitting waiting for me to write a complete answer. Feel free to send me a message with your question and I'll get back to you with an answer. I may just add it here if it isn't already.
Toronto Headshot Sessions

How long do you keep the shots from the sessions? 

We never delete anything. We have the original shots from our very first clients still stored and backed up. Your final keepers are stored using a third-party provider at no extra cost to you. They will keep your finals safe and accessible for the next ten years. If you ever lose the link to your finals, just email us and we can replace the link.

How quickly do I get my photos after the session? 

The normal turn-around time for final keepers is one week after receiving your selections from the gallery. But, we do understand that sometimes there are situations where you needed a great headshot last week. We can accommodate those situations on an as-needed basis. We'll never leave you in a lurch and make sure you hit that deadline.

Can you come on-site to shoot employees? 

Having a photographer come into your office space to take all the employee's headshots is a great way to update your companies presentation. It's also a nightmare.

I used to come on-site and do this for companies but I quickly learned the caveats of doing group headshots this way.

  1. It takes up your boardroom for the entire day. Forget having any meetings.
  2. There's always one employee that would rather be in on whats happening in the boardroom. That makes the person getting thier turn nervous and uncomfortable. And it distracts me.
  3. Employees know it's 'picture day'. The thought sit in the back of their heads until it's their turn. In many people it causes anxiety because they hate having their picture taken.
  4. Inevidibly there are employees that just can't make it on that particular day. They could be sick, on vacation, a business trip or even simply avoiding it altogether because they hate having their picture taken too.
  5. What about new hires? When you take on someone new their headshot won't look the same as everyone elses does. So do you get the same photographer to come in again for a single emplyee? That's expensive.
  6. Someone in the office has to manage when it's time for the next person. Either calling them on thier phone or running around the office looking for where they are hiding. That distracts this person from doing their regular job.

I figured out a better way to approach group headshots. One that solves all of these problems. It's less work for you as a company and the resulting headshots of your employees look better.

I provide a booking link to your company. Each employee books their own dedicated session in my studio. This could be during lunch or after business hours, even on Saturdays. I take my time with each of your employees quashing any concerns and answering questions. There's no one else there watching, no pressure and no rushing around. We can do wardrobe changes and I can also offer hair and makeup services if they like.

I want to provide a service to your employees that feels like a bonus they are being given. After all, they can use these headshots anywhere, not just for your company. Let's redefine 'picture day at the office' and give your employees an experience I'm sure they will enjoy.

Pricing for groups can be found on my pricing page near the bottom. https://torontoheadshot.com/pricing

Where are you located? 

The studio is located at 388 Carlaw Ave on the second floor in suite 202E. There is affordable Green-P street parking on both sides of Carlaw as well as some free spots on the side streets like Badgerow Ave.

How far in advance can I place a booking? 

Since I operate on advance bookings only, I currently accept sessions within 8 hours of the current time. For example, if it's 8 am when you book, the earliest slot you could choose would be 4 pm.

My booking page (https://torontoheadhot.com/online-booking) Will show you all of the available dates and times up to 120 days out from today's date.

How Long Are Sessions? 

That depends. But on average I spend at least an hour with clients. More often than not we end up shooting for an hour and a half but it can go longer.

It really depends on whether we are getting enough good shots for you to pick your finals from. I don't think it's fair to you to start a timer and then stop the session just because the timer went off. Especially if you're only going to have ten good shots to pick from. I like to see at least 40-90 shots saved in the gallery at the end of the session. How many wardrobe changes you've brought with you really contribute to how many shots you have to choose from.

How Much Are Your Sessions? 

I don't have pre-defined packages forcing you to figure out which one suits you best. I don't want to make things hard on you.

My pricing is a flat rate with options that you can add on to fit your use exactly. Sessions are $350 and include two expertly retouched shots which I call 'keepers.' Extra photos are $35 each and include professional retouching. Again, you choose as many or as little as you need. Most clients I have seen choose between 5 and 7 shots total. My all-time record client ordered 22 from their session!

You can read more about my pricing on the pricing page https://torontoheadshot.com/pricing/

General Headshot Questions

Should you smile in a business headshot? 

With all of my experience, I've come to learn that there are two types of people in the world. Those that smile with teeth and those that don't. I myself love to see headshots with a good duchenne -more on that later.

Which one of the two you are does not really matter. But I think a smile does help tremendously in how you are received by viewers of your headshot. People that smile are more approachable and deemed easier to work with and get along with. This attribute is more important now than it has been at any point in the past.

It used to be employers would hire the super educated. But nowadays, employers are more and more looking for people that really fit the team they have already built. One super smart new hire that doesn't work well with the rest of the team ends up destroying the companies culture.

Understand this though, not just any smile will do. It has to be authentic, it has to be real. People can spot a fake smile from across the room. We specialize in getting the right expression at the right time to produce some of the best headshots in Toronto. Don't just take my word for it, read what my clients have said about their experience https://torontoheadshot.com/testimonials

About the Duchenne comment, did you know that studies have shown there are TEN distinctive different types of smiles? (https://www.healthline.com/health/types-of-smiles)

what is the difference between a portrait and a headshot? 

The label 'headshot' sometimes gets stuck on portraits that it really shouldn't be. First up, let's understand that a headshot IS a type of portrait. A portrait is simply a picture of a person. A headshot is a specific type of portrait.

The term itself, 'headshot' alludes to the subject matter. It's a picture of a person's head. That's it! Nothing else is really in the shot. Not their chest or their hands. Not their waist nor their legs. It's just the head. If any other parts of the body are included in the shot, it's not a headshot. I've seen many headshot photographers promoting their services as headshots when they are more a 3/4 length portrait.

Unsplash search results for headshot
Searching on UnSplash show a lot of non-headshot examples

A headshot picture of a woman
What a real headshot looks like

Another thing that I feel about corporate headshots that differentiate them is a corporate headshot is not suited to experiment with edgy styles or to be too artistic. Its main purpose is to introduce and identify a person visually. A close-cropped portrait on the other hand can be a lot of fun to play around with look and feel. It really boils down to where and how the pictures are going to be used.

Can headshots be black and white? 

Headshots have been around for a long long time. Well before the time that even colour film was widely accepted. Hollywood, the consummate consumer of headshots went years well after colour film came out insisting that actors' headshots have to be black and white.

Nowadays colour headshots are the normal go-to but it's not like black and white is automatically ignored. Headshot or not, black and white pictures in general just have a different feel to them. Due to the lack of colour in the image, it's as if a layer of complexity is removed. They seem to feel easier for your brain to process in a way.

I offer all of my clients the option to have any of the headshots we take in black and white in addition to a colour version. Many clients have jumped on the opportunity and sometimes the shot looks better in black and white. You'll know it when you see it.

To sum it up, no, headshots don't have to be black and white nor do they have to be colour. You choose which you would like to use or which you would prefer.

Should I wear my glasses for a headshot? 

This is another personal choice that is entirely up to you. But, in my opinion, if you wear your glasses most of the time then they should be included at some point during your session.

How about a compromise. There's no headshot law that says you have to wear them in all of the shots. Get some shots with the glasses and some without. That should cover all the bases and give you options.

Some of the concern with wearing glasses in your headshot comes from the dreaded glare that glasses can cause. Well, let me put you at ease. We are professionals and know all of the tricks to light you perfectly yet avoid all of the glare caused by your glasses. Combined with expert retouching and your glasses will be crystal clear.

what are headshots used for? 

A professional headshot can be used for a number of different things. Obviously, the first one up is LinkedIn. The majority of people that book with me are looking for a headshot for LinkedIn. That being said, many clients are self-employed entrepreneurs. Many have websites that market their services and professional headshots help present them and their brand effectively.

Another place where headshots are used, quite commonly, is on corporate organization boards. Basically a hierarchal chart of where everyone is positioned in a company. These could be accessible internally by employees but some have them listed on the company website to introduce potential customers to the staff they'll be working with.

why are good headshots expensive? 

This is a controversial topic for some people. Many photographers avoid it like the plague. But I didn't want to ignore the elephant in the room. I'm not starting an argument here. This is just how it looks from my perspective.

Some people look at headshots as just a simple picture of themselves. Others look at them differently and consider them part of their marketing, crucial to their success -I'm in the latter group if you hadn't guessed already. Which camp you are in typically determines your viewpoint on the cost involved.

Being a photographer is an expensive endeavour to get into. Professional cameras, which will work and keep working when the going gets tough, are not cheap. Then there are the lenses that can either produce a glorious esthetic or ruin everything. With glass, you get what you pay for.

That being said, cameras and lenses are investments. If you buy quality equipment, you're good to go for quite a long time. The real clincher is, running a business is not a cheap endeavour. I mean, a real business, not a hobby. So let's try and break stuff down.

I can't work out of my house. That doesn't professionally present the business. Would you be comfortable coming to my house and going down to my basement studio next to my kid's toys and my treadmill? I thought not. So I have a dedicated studio space that presents the business as a real business to business-minded people. That brings with it rent, insurance and utility costs. Websites, at least a good one, are not free either. What about advertising? You're not going to get clients if no one knows you're there, right? Did you know that every time you click on my AD in Google it costs me about $4? That's just to bring you to my website, without you booking a session or paying me anything! I haven't even gotten to household expenses like food, rent or a mortgage, let alone making any profit at the end of the day. What about credit card processing fees, bank fees, professional services like accounting. It all adds up quickly, and none of that is cheap either.

There's the thought process that if I made the prices cheaper, I would get more bookings. Well, I could have gone that route; many headshot photographers in Toronto have and charge low fees. But there's a severe trade-off. I would have to do 15-minute sessions and pack as many people together as I could. I tried 15-minute sessions in the past as I was figuring things out. I stopped. Not because I wasn't making enough -which I wasn't. The real reason is you can't get any good headshots in 15 minutes! So you end up paying the price for those 15 minutes rapid sessions.

I don't want to waste people's money or time by producing garbage. You'll eventually go and get them re-taken somewhere else because you hate how you look. So I chose to deliver quality instead. Produce something you'll be thrilled with. I want to produce work that makes you want to come back again to do it all again in a year.

In closing let's try to put things into perspective. Peter Hurley, a mentor of mine who works out of New York and is constantly booked charges $1500 for a headshot session. Without including any final shots. Those are extra. Some would say "well he's in New York that's why he charges that amount". My answer to that is Toronto was just given the crown of being more expensive to live in than either New York or Los Angeles. At $350 including two shots, I charge significantly less than Peter Hurley does.

how often should you get headshots? 

This is a personal question really, it's all up to you. I would say on average every 3 years is about as long as I would space them out. While your headshot is going to be seen as the first introduction to you. Eventually, you are going to meet people in person. When that happens you do want to resemble what you look like in your headshot. If you're still using the same headshot that you took ten years ago, you're going to look quite a bit different than you do today.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal but it is another subconscious trap. People were shown one thing but delivered another they were not expecting. That bait-and-switch feeling people will get can label you as untrustworthy.

Can headshots be taken outside? 

I have seen many photographers take headshots outside during the Covid-19 lockdowns; that was pretty much the only option in town. It's also a personal style thing for each photographer.

In my opinion, aside from being an actor, headshots should never be taken outside. Corporate or business headshots should always be taken indoors in a controlled environment. Headshots that are taken outdoors or with a brick or window background are too busy and distract the viewer's attention.

I realized this after reading the book titled. Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug. The book is about user interface and website design. The TLDR is that confusing websites cause people stress. If things aren't where you expect them to be or it takes too many clicks to get where you want to be. If you stress people out too much, they move on. I immediately connected the dots regarding headshots. The same thing applies. On a smaller scale but it's still there because we are human and our brains still need to process visual information the same way.

The increased distraction with a busy background causes the viewer's brain to work harder. This extra energy use, however minor, can leave a subconscious feeling about you. As a result, you, the person, end up getting labelled 'tiring' without them even realizing it.

Can't I just take my headshot with an iPhone? 

Technically, sure. But it's not the camera that makes a great headshot. We, humans, connect to other humans through emotions. Your iPhone is going to take a picture of you but it's not going to really show who you are. There's a reason the word photographer refers to a person because it's a person that is getting the shot. It's the person, the one behind the camera that is doing the magic. The camera is just the tool we use.