How to get the perfect headshot on a budget

First impressions are very important in showbiz! Whether it's an audition or a photograph on your CV, unfortunately, you do get judged by your cover! However, this doesn’t meant that you should throw in the towel or bury your head in the sand and give up. Fortunately, we live in times when it has never been easier to find and access those who may be able to lend a helping hand. All it takes is a bit of time and a bit of correspondence. As it was once written in a somewhat famous book, “Keep on asking (nicely, in this case), and you will receive what you ask for.”
1. With a little help from your friends!
If you are living in today’s world, chances are you have one or more accounts with a social networking site. Why not announce to your world that you are in need of a photographer preferably with some extra time to Photoshop your gorgeous face into an even gorgeous-er face? Offer to buy lunch, refreshments, maybe celebratory drinks after your hard day’s work…or better yet, ask them if there’s anything you could do or get for them in return. If you have no such friends, maybe they know of someone who they can recommend. You don’t know until you’ve asked. Start from your close circle and work your way out.

2. Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
Okay maybe not the universe but certainly send a request out to the World Wide Web! There are several types of websites you can do this. Believe it or not, non-profit websites such as Freecycle, Freely or classifieds sites such as Gumtree can also be used to request services (I know this sounds a little off, but not those kinds of services). It is not uncommon to come across model requests for hairdressers going through training, or photographers looking for models to shoot in order to update their portfolio. If you have an account on a modelling website, such as ModelMayhem, you can contact photographers or even place an ad for a photographer. You can offer to pay for their time, or once again, there will be some photographers looking to update their profile. If you are unsure of their work, these websites also allow you to see their previous work, so you know what to expect as an end result. (When using classified sites, do not exchange any money online and meet beforehand preferably in public just so that you know who you will be working with. This is also a good opportunity to discuss the logistics, so that there are no misunderstandings. If you are not comfortable going this alone, take a friend with you.)

3. Call out to the universe!
Try your luck: search the internet by typing a combination of “free headshots” with the city that you live in or a city to which you would be willing to travel. You can even search for “headshots photographer in name of your city/town” and contact them via their website. Be polite, be concise and make them an (realistic and fair) offer. If you’re less concerned about your budget and more about getting that perfect headshot, this is worth giving a shot. Even if you don’t always get the photographs completely free, you either pay for the photos you want to take with you (in this case, you may need one or two) or have the photos for free and pay for the retouching or some other version of these scenarios. Either way, you could discover the opportunity to get the perfect headshot for you without emptying out your pockets.

4. When all else fails…D-I-Y!
Okay, you don’t want to spend a penny on headshots. You’re confident that you can get away with this doing it yourself. “How hard can it be?” you say to yourself optimistically. Well, if you own or have access to a good camera that takes high resolution photographs (it also helps if it has a remote control), sufficient lighting (either natural or artificial lighting), a tripod, and a computer that has editing software, and you could potentially do it yourself. If you are missing a tripod or a remote control you could always improvise; use a ledge or a stool or a desk, or if you don’t have a remote control operated camera then you set the timer (although this gets very annoying, having to constantly go back and forth). You could ask a friend to help, preferably someone with an eye for aesthetic beauty to tell you whether you’re smile is crooked or your hair out of place, or a massive shadow covering half of your face. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to play around too much with the retouching. Remember, the purpose of a headshot is that you look like you, not a magazine cover model. Take as many as you can; you can always delete what you don’t need. Perhaps get a second opinion on which ones you may be able to use. Then, pick a few that you like and retouch! There are tutorials on how to do this on YouTube where you can edit as you watch, or there are blog entries that have a step-by-step guide. Again, if you know of someone who can help you with this process, just ask! The worst that can happen is that they will say no.

Showbiz can be harsh, but have faith in the creative community; obstacles and rejection in the industry is inevitable, but it is the instability and element of surprise that makes it exciting. The suggestions are only a few methods that you can use to get your headshot on a budget, and you will probably come across other ways along your endeavour. Just make sure that at the end of the day your headshot doesn’t reek of sloppy and careless work; you wouldn’t want your headshot to turn into a shot in the head!

Written by: Aycan Garip - Visit author's website

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