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Class Overview

Lesson 1 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

1. Class Overview


Class Trailer

Class Overview


Getting Headshot Clients


Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals


Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies


Payment and Delivery for Groups


Six Styles of Business Headshots


Headshot Lighting Gear


Posing Basics for Headshots


Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Basic Seated Pose for Headshots


Head Position for Headshots


Expression Sells the Image


One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model


General Q&A


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model


Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn


Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Extracting a Single Subject


Creating a Headshot Composite


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution


Shooting Headshots in Volume


Lesson Info

Class Overview

(applause) Hello and welcome to Creative Live. My name is Kenna Klosterman and I am your host, and this is The Business of Professional Headshots with Gary Hughes. Now Gary Hughes lives in Orlando, Florida. He is a wedding photographer, headshot photographer, photographer of humans, as he said earlier. He is also world renown for being the cohost of the podcast PhotoBomb. And you've got to check that out. Please help me welcome back to the Creative Live stage, Gary Hughes. (applause) I told you I was gonna dance on. How's it going? And you fulfilled that promise, Gary. I did. This is going to be a ton of fun. Not only are we going to learn so much but we're gonna have fun doing it. Is that right? Yes, we're gonna try, we're gonna do our best. So, Gary, we have a lot of photographers out there who might be wedding photographers, might be portrait, might be babies, might photograph families, might be in that beginning phase of starting a business, trying to figure out what ...

they are passionate about doing. Why should any photographer out there who's watching care about the business of professional headshots? It's an excellent question, Kenna, and I appreciate you asking it. (laughs) I do all that stuff too. I do portraits and weddings, but headshots are a terrific sideline if you have another business. And if you're looking to get into photography it's a completely almost ignored genre that is really profitable. So the three reasons why you should get into professional headshots are money, and money, and also more money. So that's basically it. And it's pretty rewarding too 'cause sometimes you get tired of all the emotional selling and your clients are very unattached. Right. To their professional headshots from an emotional standpoint. So it's cool to work on the left side of the brain a little bit too, so a nice relief from other stuff. Fantastic. Well, I know we have a lot to cover. So much. So much. It's so great to have you back here at Creative Live. I'm gonna go join the folks in the chat room. You're gonna leave me? I am gonna leave ya. I know you can do this. (laughs) It's gonna be fun. Alright, thanks, Gary. Okay, see ya later. Hey guys, good morning. On the west coast it's morning anyway. This morning my assistant, Derek, texted me at 5:00 a.m. Pacific time, and I was still asleep, he said, "I'm logged in, I'm ready to watch, I'm really excited." "Derek, it's Pacific time. 9:00 a.m. Pacific." So, sorry for my people back home. Again, my name's Gary, I am a photographer from Orlando, and I wanna give out the first award of the day to Lenna because she came from Atlanta to be here in the audience. Is that like the farthest anybody's traveled? I mean that's pretty crazy. Alright, so no pressure on me then. So let's go back a little bit to what Kenna was talking about. This is a really cool topic for me because I got into this business accidentally. I started out doing weddings, portraits and a lot of other things and working in the entertainment industry, but as a byproduct of how the market went this sort of became one of our biggest profit centers. And so I know a lot of photographers have gotten into the business in the last ten years. Right, a lot of people have discovered photography and wanted to make it their living, which is a really cool and exciting time because some of the best work is being done that's ever been done. But there's other areas of photography that aren't as popular right now, so what are the things that people get into when they start into photography? Like weddings? Okay, absolutely, what else? Weddings, portraits, families, babies, that stuff. There's a low entry level to that genre because you don't necessarily need to have a studio, right? You don't even necessarily need a lot of equipment. You can do a lot of that stuff just natural light and using what's out there in the world, which is really cool. But what happens I know a lot of photographers that come into photography and they start doing these other things, and once your business gets established and you create a reputation in the community a lot of times what can happen is you get inquiries for these other things. So somebody you know will work at a law office and they'll go, oh, you're a photographer. I need new pictures, everybody in the office needs new pictures. And that immediately becomes intimidating because you're doing something that's outside your wheelhouse, something that may even require using lights that maybe you haven't used before. Or something that's outside of the genre where you've worked. And I've seen photographer friends of mine turn down really good jobs because they just haven't done it before. So I wanted to make this program specifically for those photographers out there that wanted to add a really cool income stream to what they're already doing or people looking to get into the business, analyzing it from that businessperson standpoint. 'Cause you get into photography because we love it, isn't that right? It's something that you wanna do. 'Cause if you really wanted to make a lot of money you'd go to dental school or something like that. But get into photography and if you're doing it analytically, from a business standpoint, you want to go in and look at your market and see what's underserved. And the vast majority of photographers out there are concentrating on weddings and portraits and families and babies, high school seniors, stuff like that. Whereas this is a whole underserved market, so if you wanna add a lot of income and sort of get away from a lot of the competition, there's a big dog pile of photographers all fighting for like the same wedding clients. And then there's all these corporate clients, and our economy at this point has recovered to the point where let me tell ya, companies are spending money like it's going out of style on stuff like this, especially big companies where the real good money is. I shot a convention a few months ago in Orlando, and I was doing headshots at the convention for about 400 people, and this company spent $12 million on a convention for 2,000 people. It's an obscene amount of money. They gave away Corvettes and helicopters - not helicopters, but they did give away two Corvettes, and this is the sort of thing where to give you a bunch of money to come do pictures is nothing to them. You don't have to fight over what they're gonna spend, you just say, this is how much money we want to spend. You say, yes, I'll do it for that, and then the job is yours. So we're gonna talk a lot about that. Let me find my clicker over here. When I was in college I took a class on speech. And my professor told me that when you're gonna give a speech, which is, this is what, like 12 hours of content we've gotta get through in the next couple of days. You gotta tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. So this is the part where we're gonna talk about what we're gonna talk about. Okay, so here we go. First we're gonna talk about how to get clients. This is the biggest thing, 'cause we're gonna cover the business of this and then we're gonna get into the mechanics of actually making it happen. But you can't really have a headshot business without clients, so that's pretty important. So I'm gonna tell you what we did to start out and how we continue to get clients. And then we're gonna talk about managing your inquiries. For corporate headshots, you're gonna come at it from a completely different way. If you think of a wedding inquiry comes in, what do you do when somebody sends an email or a phone call and your reaction is like this. OMG, congrats on your wedding. I'm so excited for you. Thank you for getting in touch, blah blah blah blah. Which is great for weddings because it's somebody's wedding and they expect you to be excited about it. It's a totally different world and it's a completely different way of approaching clients. And so we're gonna talk about exactly how to do that. We're gonna talk about pricing, how to create pricing for headshots, and how bidding on big jobs, because I know a lot of people that have had these inquiries and they bid on stuff but they don't do it quite right, and so they don't get the work, somebody else does. So we've developed a really cool strategy to bid on the jobs, and I get nine out of ten jobs that I bid on, because of the way that we bid, and I'm gonna teach you guys how to build together a quote structure that will enable you to get those jobs. Is that cool? Sheldon, I saw you get excited, bro. You ready? Okay. Can we bring that a little bit closer, just so I can see that? And then we're gonna talk about equipment and prep. One of the things that really is disenfranchising about education and workshops sometimes, has anybody ever been to a workshop where you go and the instructor shows you all this cool stuff, and then says, "Oh, if you buy this stuff, then you can do what I do"? You know what I mean? And I sort of hate that, 'cause sometimes entry level, to get there is a lot of money that you may not have, and I'm the cheapest man in the world. I don't like spending money on anything. I still have the original alien b's that I bought like nine years ago. I haven't even had to change the bulbs. Like I just don't like to buy new equipment, you know? Every time I have to buy something I just shed a tear. But we're gonna talk about the different levels of equipment. I'm gonna go from using speed light, which pretty much everybody already has, to do I'm gonna do all these different types of headshots. All the way to studio equipment that's more costly and cumbersome, stuff like that. We're gonna evaluate what equipment's best and what you want to do. But you can get all this stuff done with like two lights when you're doing headshots. It's really, really easy, I'm gonna show you how, live and in person with real models. I know, that is awesome. Then I'm gonna show you six different styles of doing these professional headshots. There are so many ways to do things. The number one thing I gonna tell you about photography workshops is, you're gonna find your own way to take the photos. I'm gonna give you the six things that I get asked to do the most, 'cause nine times out of ten when you get an inquiry for a professional headshot, especially if it's on a large scale, they're gonna be asking you to match something that they already have. When you shoot for a company that has offices in 30 states and they want you to do pictures for their office in one city and one state, a lot of times they'll send you a style guide that's gonna say, okay, you have to do it like this. So I'm gonna give you the six things that I do the most in the business headshot world. And then you can apply any style you want. If you have one particular way of doing things and that's how you want to do them, if you're a big name and you've got a style and people come to you for that style, that's one thing, but the rest of us bread and butter, day to day photographers may not have a reputation that commands people to come to us for our specific art. So I'm gonna teach you the way that I do it, and I cannot wait to see all the negative comments from people about the way I do stuff. Because I really, I do it as bare minimum as possible. Everything I do, from how I shoot to Photoshop is gonna nauseate a lot of people. So take what you can get from it, apply it to your own business. It's just the way I do things. This is the stuff I do most commonly. And then we're gonna do lighting and posing very specifically on different lighting patterns, things that I get asked to do. And then the number one thing people have trouble with I think when getting into professional headshots is, and this is sort of a gender line. This isn't 100% true, but I feel like me have a lot of trouble posing women and women have a lot of trouble posing men. In general. Obviously there are exceptions on both sides. The world is a lot different than it used to be, and so there are traditional ways of doing things. But I'm gonna give you poses that are gonna work for both all the time. And there are tons and tons of poses and ways of doing things outside of what I'm gonna show you, but I'm gonna give you something that's gonna work most of the time, and you can build on it from there. Is that cool? Okay. Feels like we're gonna learn a lot of stuff. Really cool. And then we're gonna do retouching and extracting. Retouching is a thing where people are gonna hate me the most, because I hate taking a long time on stuff. I don't work in a ton of layers. I don't save everything as a PSD. I do everything really, really like down and dirty, but it's really quick and really easy. And if you do your lighting right and your posing right that flatters your subject, you shouldn't need to do that much, and there will be exceptions, but you should keep it to a point where you get about 95% there when you take the picture. And that's what we really wanna strive for. And then extraction is something that you're gonna get a lot of requests for. For example, a company has a particular look, and their design team for their website, 'cause I'm shooting for websites almost exclusively, websites, billboards, advertisements. These are digital usage. Very little printing in this type of work that I'm gonna talk about. They're gonna want to cut the person out and put it on something else. Or apply it to their own branding. So when they go to a photographer and they say, they're not gonna tell you to match the background, there just gonna cut it out and put whatever background they want. So you have to learn to shoot specifically for extraction. Get that information from your client knowing when they're gonna do it. So we're gonna shoot for extraction, we're gonna have the computer, I'm gonna cut it out, put it on the background, do the whole nine yards and show you how to do it, and you're gonna go, "I can't believe how easy that was." By the way, guys, we're on Creative Live. (laughter) I'm so excited. I'm not famous at all. How did I get here? I feel like that broke the ice a little bit, don't you? Alright, that's cool. (laughs) Okay, and then we're gonna talk about shooting for volume. Because this is honestly where the largest amount of money comes in for your average photographer. There are different business models that you can put together and different ways of making money. I know photographers that shoot professional headshots and they do $1,500 to $2,000 a client, a more boutique business. You're gonna get into that sort of like (mumbles) type of stuff where you're really delivering a high end quality product. And then I know photographers that shoot in the medium, they're in the $300, $400 range, somewhere around there. And then I know photographers that are shooting hundreds and hundreds of people, conventions, trade shows, stuff like that. The biggest problem you're gonna run into with that is making it consistent. How do you sit down, light it, pose it, shoot it, make them comfortable, get a good expression, in 20 seconds? And we're gonna do that.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

6 Styles of Headshots
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Melville McLean

Gary Hughes is possibly the best teacher I have seen here and that is a very high compliment. His business analysis is simple and to the point. His set ups and techniques are simple and straight forward, no easy task in itself. His interactions with his models/clients are finely developed and reduced into the fewest but most important key exchanges. He teaches by example how to interact and direct. If you are a high volume photography with brief time per sitter, you might especially appreciate his tips. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep a tight, well structured class going live for so long at a time. His intelligence, wit and personality are all in his favor but it is the content itself that is most impressive. I am not a portrait photographer but I have 30 years of commercial studio experience. He knows what is most important, leaves out the rest and has organized the material in anticipation of most difficulties that arise so that it rests in a seamless, smooth, coherent learning experience. All of his practical advice is excellent. Just understand that his work is about doing a relatively large number of shots in the most efficient way rather than a lot of time spent on a few clients for a completely different format [presentation like very large prints. In fact he is especially pragmatic. He emphasizes that you do not have to own the most expensive equipment but you absolutely do have to know how to use the equipment that you already have. And I am telling you this as someone he makes fun of in his course with fancy cameras and Profoto lighting gear. He is an advocate of all thought out approaches as well as relying on skills and knowledge. You will understand how and why to make all of his key, conventional light and posing set ups. He makes everything sound simple and doable -- and with his help -- it is. What you have to appreciate is that it is up to each individual to acquire the specialized skills to make our work compelling enough to be competitive. The unspoken truth that we all face is that talent plays a key role as well and that it takes time to become every accomplished. But I have also seen concentration, commitment and hard work result in developing innate talents that blossom in very successful careers. Mr Hughes reduces every step into the clearest, most essential components. He is self effacing both as a photographer and post process retoucher but he is very good indeed and does not waste time overdoing images that cannot benefit from a larger format presentation. Everything is appropriate and practical. He has already removed everything that does not matter for his purposes for us that would only interfere with the concise, clarity of his presentation.


I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch this course. It has not only provided valuable lighting set-ups, but also great basics for posing.!. The Photoshop extraction technique Gary demonstrated was icing on the cake. Gary did a great job teaching and I greatly admired the technique in which he taught. Thanks for a great class!


This was an excellent class! The class covered so much information and great tips and ideas. Gary is funny and has an easy going approach, which makes the class that much more enjoyable. As a struggling pet photographer, I have been trying to find something to supplement my business with that does not involve children/babies, or shooting weddings again and headshots seemed to be a great option. After watching this class, I feel confident building up a headshot component to my business. Definitely recommend this class!

Student Work