How Much To Pay For A Stunning Professional Headshot?

In the competitive job market today, having a professional headshot is no longer optional; it is an unwritten requirement. So how to take a professional headshot? Is there any preparation for the shooting session? And how much do headshots cost? All answers are below! Let Jobandedu by your guide!

The Importance of A Professional Headshot

In brief, a headshot is a photograph of a person’s head and face. Additionally, it is a part of your personal brand. This professional photo will increase the professionalism and impression of your resume, thereby increasing the chances customers will come to you or recruiters will have more sympathy for you.

Find out how to make better preparation for your job application here: Job application

So, get ready for a headshot session now! But should you hire a photographer or take your own headshot to save money? The answer is both, but we slightly suggest the former. Whatever your choice, this shoot requires specific preparatory steps for a practical session and the best results. So, how to take a professional headshot?

How To Best Prepare When Having A Professional Take Headshots For You?

How Much Do Headshots Cost?

Indeed, it is not easy to say precisely how much it costs for professional headshots. There are several factors leading to price variation. Besides the skill gap of photographers, services and duration per session contribute significantly to the headshot rates. 

Also, the photography rates can vary widely between cities. For example, getting headshots in Los Angeles or New York may be more expensive than in Austin or Nashville. Meanwhile, it costs less to take headshots in Los Angeles or New York than in Austin or Nashville. 

So, how much do headshots cost? What are typical pricing ranges for a session? Are there any other criteria to keep in mind? Let’s dive in quickly to figure out!

Less Than $75

Generally, photographers charging this price are often beginners or amateurs. This learning-by-doing stage is mainly to gain experience. When opting to take professional headshots at this price, you will run the risk of low image quality. These so-called professional photos may turn out to be unprofessional. Of course, that’s not always the case.

To avoid this matter, check their previous work. Otherwise, do not work with these photographers if you can not view their sample shots. 

A helpful tip whenever selecting the photographer is to look at the worst photos in their portfolio and judge photographers by those. A portfolio typically only contains the photographer’s best images. Therefore, if they include any terrible ones, consider that your pictures may be worse than those.

How To Best Prepare When Having A Professional Take Headshots For You?
An example of photography portfolio – Source:

$90 – $150

These photographers typically know how to take headshots with an acceptable quality level or higher. However, you might come across a photographer who doesn’t know how to direct you into great expressions at this competitive price.

Ensure to check their portfolio since the genuine expression is the key element for a stunning headshot. Do your research and ask if these photographers have a professional studio with professional equipment, especially lighting modifiers.

Some photographers who charge this price may have a limited number of lower-quality lenses in comparison to the numerous prime or zoom lenses that a more professional photographer typically has. Lenses, besides lighting, play a vital role in taking headshots.

These photographers typically know how to take headshots with an acceptable quality level or higher
Lenses’ price variety contributes to the cost variation of a headshot – Source:

$200 – $800

In general, photographers charging this price tend to be the professional ones. They have built their reputation over the years. Thus, they have a large client base, and word of mouth is the primary approach they get clients.

Therefore, these photographers know how to provide you with excellent headshots. However, be sure they offer a reliable warranty in case you are not satisfied with the final images.

$1,000 – $1,500

These are usually high-end photographers, so you get your money’s worth. You can expect headshots comparable to the $1,000-$1,500 range, as most of them will bring out the best side of you in no time. They have makeup artists, great studios, and high-quality equipment to create stunning headshots.

These are usually high-end photographers, so you get your money's worth
The service will get your money’s worth – Source:

Furthermore, these photographers frequently get the most and greatest client feedback and reviews. Therefore, if you hire one of these professionals, you may not only be satisfied with the photos you receive but also with the quality of the accompanying service. You may get what you pay for.

These high-end photographers typically book clients who do not care much about budget but are more concerned with quality. These clients want the best results and definitely do not want to waste time reshooting because of their previous unsatisfactory session.

$2,000 Or Higher

Some photographers blow up the cost for a headshot when misleading clients into having to pay $2,000 or even $3,000 for headshots. Obviously, it is not always true. You either pay for a well-known photographer or get deceived at that photography rate. 

Though at what price, remember to check out their portfolio before reaching the final decision. Also, if you have never heard of their name before or you cannot find much information about them on the Internet, stay away.

What To Prepare For A Headshot Session?

Before The Shooting Date

Plan Your Shooting Date

We suggest booking at least a week in advance to limit the possibility of scheduling conflicts. In case you are not feeling well, or need more time to prepare, or something unexpected happened, do not forget to contact the photographer to reschedule.

Make sure you have enough time to prepare for the shoot comfortably. Otherwise, haste will probably show on your face.

Indicate Specific Requirements In Advance, If Any

During the photography session, the photographer will consult you to style appropriately. But if you have more specific shooting needs, for example frame, pose, background, etc., please tell in advance so that the photographer and post-production team can prepare.

What To Prepare For A Headshot Session?
Tell the photographer your specific requirements in advance, if any – Source:

Having A Good Sleep Before The Shooting Day

Lack of sleep not only makes your eyes red and puffy but also makes you mentally sluggish and tired. Photoshop can help change colors or remove some blemishes, but it cannot help you show the best image of yourself.

Know Your Own Face

Review your favorite photos to see which colors and angles fit you best. Also, if you have trouble with your hair, try to address it on this day.

Know Your Own Face
Review your previous photos to see which angles are the best – Source:

On The Shooting Day

Pick The Right Outfit

Depending on your career field and desired position, you can choose the corresponding outfit. However, we recommend dressing as if you were going to meet an important partner.

Avoid colors that are too bright or vivid. Also, limit the use of jewelry and accessories. Do not forget to iron and dust your garments before arriving.

In general, you should wear an elegant color and have a certain contrast between layers of clothing. For example, you can consider a white shirt with a dark blue vest or a light blue shirt with a black vest.

Five Minutes Before Shooting

Hair Check

Yes, still hair. A few strands of hair on the face can be post-processed, but it will ruin the whole image if the hair is not in place or the wrong style.

Face Check

A flashlight will reveal greasy facial skin. A layer of foundation will be very effective in this case. Even if your skin is dry, stop applying moisturizer for four hours before the shoot.

If you do not wear makeup, use a wet towel to wipe your forehead, nose bridge, cheekbones, and chin just before the shoot. Then pat dry with paper. These steps will reduce the appearance of skin lightening.

Outfit Check

Tighten collars, flatten shirts, hide undershirts if you do not want them to be exposed, remove or adjust necklaces.

Glasses Check

Dirty glasses will significantly affect the photo. Hence, we recommend wearing anti-glare glasses if possible. If your glasses are prone to glare, but you often wear them, it would be best to continue wearing them. However, you and the photographer will have to be more patient to find the best angle.

Be Comfortable

Indeed, the headshot needs to show your style and demeanor. Stressing or overacting is something to avoid. You can ask to listen to your favorite songs or talk to the photographer to create the most comfortable atmosphere.

Take Your Own Headshot

Appearance Preparation

As the nature of the headshots is a close-up of the face, a light makeup layer will make your image much nicer. Do not put on too much makeup, and choose suitable outfits that match your concept.

Focal Length

Markedly, focusing is essential in headshot photography, so pay attention to the focal length when you take your own headshot. For headshots, you need to have a focal length of at least 50mm. With this focal length, your photos will be extremely sharp and bring out the contours of the model’s face.

Headshot professionals’ popular headshot focal lengths are 85mm and 105mm, and some even prefer 135mm.

Let’s take a look at some examples of different focal lengths:

Take Your Own Headshot - How Much Do Headshots Cost?
Different focal lengths – Source:

Light Setup

Whether you use natural light or artificial light, ensuring that every element of your photograph is bright enough is always an important principle. When you take your own headshot, you can mix both natural and artificial light in your frame. In addition, lighting sources such as flash or reflector may create high-contrast pictures with a reasonable emphasis.

Light Setup - How Much Do Headshots Cost?
Flash or reflector may render a reasonable emphasis – how much do headshots cost. Source:


Before shooting to take your own headshot, you should adjust the model so that the model’s face matches the lens at a suitable angle. Many poses can create beautiful photos, so you can shoot from many different angles and choose the best one.

Here are extra tips to pose and look natural in your headshots or personal branding photoshoots:

How to pose (and look natural!) in your headshot or personal branding photoshoothow much do headshots cost

Novel Ideas

Most photos are frontal headshots and quite monotonous. You can make your photos more interesting by creating a template and concept representing your personality or daily habits in the photo. Thus, your photos will become much more unique and impressive. However, make sure they match the nature of the job you intend to pursue.

Photo Editing

This process is the last step and also a very important one to help you get the picture you want. Add the necessary effects such as contrast, add light, or whatever you feel is appropriate for your photo.


Hope you have grasped the steps to prepare for a headshot shooting session. When answering the question “How much do headshots cost?” keep in mind that a higher rate does not always guarantee higher quality or better customer service.

Emma Anderson

Emma Anderson is a career consultant and freelance writer for JobandEdu by night. Layla assists students, and new hires in determining a suitable career path and walk them through the application process. She decides to pursue writing since she thinks everyone should have access to information about potential careers, such as the application process and the company's culture. She's into writing, driving her with stuff that interests her in all her good reads.