“My mate’s got a smartphone with eight cameras and 70 billion mega pixels! What do I need a professional headshot photographer for?”
In case you don’t know the answer to that question, or are wondering if it is really worth investing in professional headshots, here are a few reasons why.
Whilst it is true that smartphone cameras are great and keep getting better, they are best suited to candid shots capturing life events. Oh... and selfies. They rarely come with a trained photographer with years of experience in getting the best results and expertise in retouch, and are not an appropriate tool for conveying a professional impression.
Whether you are an actor or a business professional, headshots are an important marketing tool. It’s not just how your face looks though, it’s how professional your headshot looks. There’s no point spending hours crafting that perfect post or investing time in building your professional network, when your photo is conveying the message that you don’t really care.
So what makes professional headshots better than what your mate and his phone can do?
Equipment, Light and Detail
Whilst some smartphones might pack in as many megapixels as a professional DSLR or mirrorless camera, there are a few areas they don’t compare. A smart phone image might look good when viewed small, but when you zoom in you’ll really notice the difference.
To start with, the sensor in a professional camera is much bigger than those found in smartphones. The largest sensor in a smartphone at the time of writing this article is approximately 14mm x 9mm. Compare that to a full frame DSLR with a sensor size of 36mm x 24mm. With a bigger sensor, more light is captured and therefore more detail.
Then there is the lens. Professional photographers will often use what’s called a ‘Prime’ lens. This is a fixed focal length lens, usually at 50mm or 85mm for portraiture. These lenses are much larger than the tiny ones found on smartphones and can allow much more light through to the sensor. Again, more light equates to more detail. They also pack in far more elements than those tiny phone ones, and just the lens alone can cost as much, if not more than your mate’s super-duper wizzy smartphone.
In addition, those of us who do this for a living have taken a lot of time to understand how different light and lighting setups will affect the subject.
You can read my post on retouch here, so I won’t go into too much detail. In most instances professional headshot photographers will enhance the final images that are delivered to you. Retouch is post processing of images to enhance them beyond what is captured by the camera. It takes time and expertise which will be factored into the price you pay.
Capturing the best of you
A professional photographer also has to understand how to get the best out of their subject. If you are not comfortable during your photoshoot the images will look awkward, like a deer in headlights. Professional photographers have years of experience, plus tricks and techniques in helping people feel comfortable and getting the right look for the job, whether that’s an actor’s headshot that casting directors will go for or a professional headshot with gravitas.
In summary, when you invest in a professional headshot you are benefiting from the investment the photographer has made in the equipment and skills to take detailed, striking images, capturing you at your best.