Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One


Four Keys to Headshot Photography - Part One by Orange County Photographer, Mark Jordan Photogaphy

Professional Business Headshot Portrait

PREFACE: What is your Headshot photography communicating to your client’s community and their potential clients? It cannot be overemphasized, people do equate the quality and credibility of your your client’s craft by the HeadShot they present to the world – 90% of which is made at the subconscious level.

Long gone are the days of putting forward one’s best foot – it’s been replaced by one’s face. First impressions are indelible. That is to say, unless your clients are aware of the lasting message intended with their headshot, the odds are it is saying something about their identity other than what they wish. More than likely, it is also doing more harm than good.

At its very core, a Headshot portrait is the silent yet ever present ambassador to community and business connections. If your client is going to splurge in any area of self-promotion, a prudent businessperson will begin with a supremely crafted, professional portrait.

So then, what makes a Headshot “stand out from the crowd”? In my week short lecture I actual cover ten key components, but to keep our discussion pertinent and tidy, Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One will limit this post to the Four Key Factors. I like to think of these as the 3Ps and 3Es:

Four Keys to Headshot Photography by Mark Jordan Photography

Business Headshot by Mark Jordan Photography

All components of Four Keys to Headshot Photography are vital, but were I to list them in degree of importance, as written, they are in reverse order. Because the nature of blogging restricts my coverage of them, I’ve limited my post to just these four. Even then, each are rife enough in content to cover on a single blog. Subsequently, I will discuss them in four parts, each section containing this intro and closing comments. So then, here we go, Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One.


The direction and ultimate success for your Headshot photography is largely due to the groundwork you lay. I prefer to meet with every client before we photograph them. However, for the vast majority of clients looking for an outstanding headshot, this is not an option. Why? It requires a great deal of their time to move and shake, and thus, rarely do they feel the need to add yet another appointment to their busy schedule. I’d like to think that they also have a sense of trust in my work and are confident they’ve made the right right choice.

David Pack – Publicity Headshot

Consequently, you will soon discover that Headshot bookings primarily rely on one’s written communications (i.e. email) and telephone eloquence. Those who most effectively communicate what they have to offer, and how their offerings are best suited for their client’s needs, are going to find themselves booking most of their inquiries. It’s as simple as that.

Since the vast majority of my inquiries arrive by email (which means my SEO work is having its intended effect), I depend on a swift and effective email response. Approximately 70% of these initial email inquiries result in a followup phone call. Both my email letters and phone discussion are key to helping my potential clients recognize that I am the right studio for their professional headshot needs.

Once I know precisely what is it my client needs, I can then go about assembling all the elements to make it happen. The variables are limitless. However, if the Headshot need in your community is anything like mine, the conventional Studio Session is king.

Even then, I call upon my Boy Scout motto: be prepared. “Planning,” therefore, as you may have surmised, is just as much about what they need, as it is where.

This is where your expertise will be relied upon, and what Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One is all about.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography by Mark Jordan Photography

Actor Headshot by Mark Jordan Photography

As you know, there is a great deal of information that you know and desure to pass on to your client regarding the superiority of your work. However, be careful – it can be a trap. Please keep in mind that your goal is not to prove how much you know, but how much you care. After all, no one cares what you know until they know how much you care.

Therefore, be assured that people do catch on rather quickly as to who is simply trying to sell them and who is looking out for their best interests.

Consequently, my inquires are focused on meeting their needs, which means asking questions – questions centered on their ultimate purpose.

For instance, by far, most clients looking for a business headshot today request them solely for LinkedIn. Consequently, they do not need a High Resolution Digital File (HRDF) where a simple Web Resolution Digital File (WRDF) will suffice – nicely I might add. The price savings for your client is considerably. I believe it is advantageous to all to point this out.

Yes, a client might call thinking they need an HRDF. However, when you discover their headshot need is limited to posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, Manta, et al, your very next opportunity is to demonstrate that you’re truly focused on they’re bottom line, not yours! It is as this moment that it’s vital to point out what’s BEST for your client.

On a side note, it might be relevant to note that I allow my clients full, unlimited complimentary use of their HRDF, just as long it is not in their possession. They simply forward us the graphic/web designer who may request their HRDF, and we forward it to them at no charge. Again, our goal is to best meet the needs of our clients (while looking out for our own tush). 

The more options you have to offer your clients the better, but to a point. Though your mind might be a fertile ground for endless possibilities, our task is to synthesize – not make the decision more confusing.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography - Part One by Orange County Photographer, Mark Jordan Photography

Publiciay Photo for Midi Abair Live in Concert

When you LISTEN to what THEY require, present a few options which will best meet their need, they are then positioned to make the best choice for what benefits them the most. Ergo, everyone is happy.

Since most clients, more often than not, do not know exactly what they’re looking for, I believe is it incumbent upon us, as professionals, to shine a light. When you do this often enough, making it a veritable habit, you’ll earn clients for life.

Though the confines of this blog precludes an indepth account, suffice is to say, I believe in a candid, straightforward approach: “this what I do, how I do it, the cost of differing options (minimum and maximum price), and when you can expect to receive it.” Client’s appear to appreciate it – it’s working.

I do have an extensive list of questions to ask, though not all will be voiced at our first contact. Besides gleaning their goal, other questions as to style, clothing, feel, background preference, timing, etc., though perfunctory in nature, must come across as sincere and fresh. The operative word here is enthusiasm.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One by Orange County Photographer, Mark Jordan Photography

Jay Lim, of Top Shot fame, in Character for Headshot

It also helps when your love what you do and truly care. If you have to fake it, you have yet to find your giftedness – it would be best to find another line of work.

If it’s just not your style to let your enthusiasm show yet you love creating headshots, I suggest putting yourself inside the callers shoes. Do all you can to stretch yourself, feeling their angst and confusion. Once you do you’ll forever be touched by the overwhelming sense of gratification you derive from developing a servant’s heart. Ultimately, for me, that’s what efficacious planning is all about.

This Concludes Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One. PART Two, POSITIONING, is next.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography by Mark Jordan Photography, Orange County Photography

Greg Vail, Headshot Portrait

So then, when it is all said and done, how might a Headshot photographer know that the session went well?

A successful Headshot photographer is one who often hears from his clients: “My goodness, THAT was quick/fun!” Or my favorite: “Boy, that was painless!” Should you be fortunate to hear these compliments, or variations thereof, count yourself a blessed photographer – move on, and then repeat for a lifetime.

Should you like to learn more than Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One was able to convey,  you might want to inquire about my LOYD Program (lunch on your dime). Should you wish to then learn in a more intensive course, my consulting fees are reasonable. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge.

Anyone wishing to explore the possibility of having our studio create their professional headshot, the next step is to either contact us by email or give us a call (949.888.8071). I’ll spend whatever time it takes to familiarize you with prices and process, as well as arrange a time to meet and discuss your Headshot needs.

Mark Jordan
Master Craftsman Photographer
American Society of Photographers
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
Orange County Photographer of the Year
3-Time Honoree -EPCOT’S World’s Greatest Photographers Exhibit

When looking for a professional Orange County Family Portraits photographer, or Orange County Headshots Photographer please call 949-888-8071 or complete our online request form.

Four Keys to Headshot Photography Part One

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