Do you ever have a headshot complaints?
- What is the complaint?
- Is it valid?
- What Can do about it?
I felt I had to write this blog post because of a recent experience I had with a client. He had headshot complaints – about 2 weeks after we took them! Initially he was thrilled with the headshots. During our shoot he thought they were so good he did a short recommendation video telling people how good they were!
Then came the complaint…. Via a text message!
He was angry that he hadn’t had any castings so far and he felt as though he’d wasted his money on my services!
Obviously my first thought was what could I do to rectify the situation? Should I offer to reshoot his session, or even refund his photography fee if he was so unhappy? And I questioned myself, why was he so unhappy?
I took a few minutes to go over his headshots and see if there were any errors I had made. I looked into ways I could have done a better shoot for him and given him better headshots. I couldn’t find one. I checked the lighting, the composition and the style of his headshots and couldn’t find any headshot complaints. I add at this point I’ve been shooting headshots for actors for over 20 years and have photographed over 20,000 happy clients. I’m also the author of ‘The Headshot Bible – 50 Tips For A Perfect Headshot’. So without blowing my own trumpet, I know what I’m talking about.
Going back over his text message and his headshot complaints I realised he was unhappy with the results of his headshots and not the actual photos themselves – though he hadn’t made that distinction!
I thought back to our session and remembered a little about him. He was a guy in his mid-twenties with a full head of grey/silver hair and a dark beard. He was also quite short in modern terms – about 5ft 7inches tall, and he spoke good English with an eastern European accent.
In his career so far he’d been working in the TV and Film extra/background artist fields for about a year or so and wanted to make the transition into full time acting. He knew he needed great headshots to help him catch the eye of casting directors in this transition, so came to me. (I later learned that he hadn’t gone to drama school or acting classes, in fact he didn’t have any tarining or experience of any kind!).
To cut a long story short, he didn’t have a good selection of clothes in neutral styles – the clothes he brought were a very definite statement including a brand new made to measure dinner jacket, trousers and bow tie.
It turned out that he hadn’t had any auditions from the photos yet even though he’d only been using them for about 2 weeks. Therefore he felt justified with his headshot complaints because he’d had no auditions!
It was clear to me that he didn’t understand the business he was entering into and how limiting his grey hair made his castability. You don’t see too many roles in film and TV for young men with a complete head of grey hair. In my book ‘The Headshot Bible – 50 Tips For A Perfect Headshot’ I cover many of the mistakes he made before his session and the ones he made during and after the shoot. I even offered him the eBook before his shoot so he could prepare properly before his shoot -I said I would deduct the fee for the book from his headshot session, – but he declined.
From a headshot photographers point of view it’s crucial you investigate all headshot complaints thoroughly, including your whole process from start to finish. You must give full consideration to the concerns of an unhappy client and ascertain what their real complaint is, it’s important to explore all avenues to obtain an agreeable outcome. Within this framework as a headshot photographer you should completely understand the market you are working in and what styles of headshot are applicable to it, and ensure your photos meet the client’s needs. You should examine your photographs and make sure your lighting, composition and exposure are correct for the relevant market.
What is the moral of this story?
Well the moral of the story as it says in tip no.1 in The Headshot Bible is – Preparation Is The Key. Without proper preparation your headshot session starts out on the wrong foot and you are unlikely to get the very best out of it. No matter how good your headshot photographer is.